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Who is NASCAR’s best in the last 100 Cup races?

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One hundred Cup races is nearly three seasons. That’s a good way to look at how drivers and teams perform with driver contracts often lasting three years.

The numbers over the last 100 Cup races can prove interesting. Among some of the takeaways:

  • Jimmie Johnson has 14 wins but only 33 top-five finishes. That means 42.4 percent of his top-five finishes are wins.
  • Both Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick have 72 top-10 finishes in their last 100 races, meaning they have scored top 10s in 72 percent of these races. Harvick led the way with 52 top-five finishes, thus he’s averaging a top-five finish in more than 50 percent of his starts in the last 100 races.
  • Kyle Busch‘s numbers are a bit lower than some because he missed the first 11 races of the 2015 season after his injury at Daytona in the season-opening Xfinity race. Still, he ranks toward the top in wins, top-five and top-10 finishes during this stretch.
  • Brad Keselowski and Logano rank in the top three in wins, top fives, top 10s and poles in the last 100 races, showing the strength of Team Penske over this period.

Here’s a look at the numbers in the last 100 Cup races among active drivers. (Only drivers who have Cup confirmed rides for the 2017 season are included).

MOST WINS IN LAST 100 RACES

14 — Jimmie Johnson

13 — Joey Logano

10 — Kevin Harvick

10 — Brad Keselowski

  9 — Kyle Busch

  7 — Matt Kenseth

  6 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  6 — Denny Hamlin

  5 — Martin Truex Jr.

  3 — Kurt Busch

  1 — AJ Allmendinger

  1 — Aric Almirola

  1 — Chris Buescher

  1 — Kasey Kahne

  1 — Kyle Larson

MOST TOP 5s IN LAST 100 RACES

52 — Kevin Harvick

50 — Joey Logano

39 — Brad Keselowski

36 — Kyle Busch

33 — Jimmie Johnson

31 — Denny Hamlin

31 — Matt Kenseth

28 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

23 — Kurt Busch

18 — Kyle Larson

17 — Martin Truex Jr.

13 — Jamie McMurray

MOST TOP 10s IN LAST 100 RACES

72 — Kevin Harvick

72 — Joey Logano

64 — Brad Keselowski

58 — Denny Hamlin

55 — Matt Kenseth

53 — Jimmie Johnson

52 — Kyle Busch

51 — Kurt Busch

44 — Martin Truex Jr.

43 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

38 — Kyle Larson

38 — Ryan Newman

33 — Jamie McMurray

32 — Kasey Kahne

28 — Clint Bowyer

MOST POLES IN LAST 100 RACES

10 — Kevin Harvick

  9 — Joey Logano

  8 — Brad Keselowski

  6 — Denny Hamlin

  6 — Matt Kenseth

  5 — Kyle Busch

  5 — Kurt Busch

  5 — Martin Truex Jr.

  2 — AJ Allmendinger

  2 — Austin Dillon

  2 — Chase Elliott

  2 — Jimmie Johnson

  2 — Jamie McMurray

MOST DID NOT FINISHES (DNFS) IN LAST 100 RACES

14 — David Ragan

12 — Aric Almirola

12 — Landon Cassill

11 — AJ Allmendinger

11 — Kyle Busch

10 — Matt DiBenedetto

10 — Matt Kenseth

10 — Kyle Larson

10 — Danica Patrick

10 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  9 — Trevor Bayne

  9 — Jimmie Johnson

  9 — Kasey Kahne

  9 — Paul Menard

NASCAR America: Matt Kenseth unable to realize potential due to team’s mistakes

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Sunday’s pit road mistake — having seven crew members over the wall when only six are allowed — not only knocked Matt Kenseth out of the race, it also knocked him out of advancing in the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

As a result, Kenseth lost out on his bid to earn a second Cup championship in what could potentially be his last season in the Cup series.

And it wasn’t the first time Kenseth has suffered through issues not of his making this season and in prior seasons.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan all gave their thoughts on what happened to Kenseth — and they didn’t hold back, either.

Click on the above video to hear what they had to say about Kenseth’s misfortune and how it could potentially impact his legacy going forward.

 

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s picks for Championship 4

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On Monday’s editions of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave his predictions for which of the eight remaining championship-eligible drivers — including Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott — will make it to the Championship 4 round.

In addition to Johnson and Elliott, Junior also makes it known in the above video that he’s also pulling for Ryan Blaney. He may even throw in a surprise to his picks.

Our NASCAR America team of analysts go over Junior’s picks and give their take, as well.

We don’t want to spill the beans of who Junior is picking here, so click on the video above to find out, as well as what our analysts think about his picks.

 

 

 

Long: Kyle Larson’s playoff exit significant to title contenders

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Lost among questions about rules, confusion on pit road and chaos on the track Sunday was just how significant Kyle Larson’s departure from the playoff is.

The owner of four wins this season, Larson was one of the few drivers who typically could race with Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch on the 1.5-mile tracks and some even considered Larson the championship favorite if he made it to Miami.

“I think Kyle Larson was going to be the car to beat, and still will be the car to beat at Homestead,’’ said Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch. “Now that he’s not in the (playoff) mix anymore, it probably opens it up for the rest of us.’’

Said Kevin Harvick: “I think you eliminated the best car at Homestead. That’s a big deal. For everybody.’’

Larson entered Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway with a 29-point cushion before his title hopes ended when his engine blew with nearly 200 laps left. He finished 39th.

“It’s crazy,’’ Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., said of Larson’s playoff exit. “You can’t ever be safe, for sure.’’

Sunday marked the first time since 2013 that Larson failed to finish a race because of an engine failure. His first two career Cup races ended early because of engine issues that season.

Larson’s departure was as shocking as Busch’s exit in 2014 when he entered the elimination race at Talladega second in the standings with a 25-point cushion to advance to the next round.

Now a spot many presumed would be taken by Larson is open for someone else.

WORK REMAINS

Jimmie Johnson overcame two spins to finish 11th and advance to the Round of 8, moving a step closer to an eighth championship.

Crew chief Chad Knaus, though, wasn’t pleased after Sunday’s race.

On the radio afterward, Knaus said: “That was a pitiful performance.’’

Knaus had more to say after the race, telling NBC Sports:

“We ran like (expletive deleted). It was a bad weekend. We managed to capitalize on some other people’s misfortune, which was great for us. We’ve got some work to do. I don’t know what’s going on. We definitely don’t have the speed that we need.

“Good news is we’ve got three really good race tracks coming up for us, at least historically. Very optimistic heading into Martinsville and going to Homestead this week to test, so hopefully we can hit on some stuff there to take to Texas. We obviously have run well there in the past. Phoenix has been a really good race track for us as well. We’ve got three great opportunities. Just got to do the best.’’

Knaus is right to be concerned. The second round was mistake-riddled for the team.

The pit crew failed to tighten all the lug nuts late in the race at Charlotte, forcing Johnson to back up partially into his stall to remedy the issue, costing him time and positions.

An error by the team’s spotter led to the crew working on Johnson’s damaged car before the red flag period had ended, leading to the team being parked. The team had hoped to run one more lap after being collected in a crash to gain at least one more point.

Then came Kansas’ woes with the lack of speed, an ill-handling car and a seven-time champion causing back-to-back cautions.

“It’s no real surprise that mile-and-a-halves have been a little bit of a struggle for us this year,’’ Johnson said. “We’re putting in the effort. These guys are working around the clock. I’m looking under every stone I can to try to find something as well. We just don’t have the speed yet.

“We’ve got a real opportunity at Martinsville. If we’re able to win there … it sets us up for Homestead.’’

COMMUNICATION WOES

The communication issues Matt Kenseth’s team had Sunday wasn’t the first time for that team and crew chief Jason Ratcliff in the playoffs.

In the penultimate race of the 2013 season, Kenseth struggled all weekend and then had a disastrous pit stop when there was confusion on if the team would change two or four tires. After the call was made for four tires, Kenseth had to back up because the car was on the air hose.

The result was a 23rd-place finish that left Kenseth so far behind Johnson needed only to finish 23rd or better in Miami to win the title. Ratcliff apologized to his crew on the radio after the race for the effort.

Sunday’s scenario was different but communication again proved key and a miscue will keep the team from having a chance to race for a title.

“That’s one thing about that pit stall (closest to pit entrance), makes it difficult,’’ Ratcliff said. “You get to pit road really quick. You have a little less time to communicate. Thankfully, we don’t fall under the damaged vehicle policy that much. Other than last week at Talladega we did. We missed a head count there.’’

So what happened?

“Two of them were holding tires (over the wall),’’ Ratcliff said of crew members. “We have a gameplan. We have a gameplan that has worked really good for us all year and … I don’t know if someone missed the call there or I didn’t communicate properly. Typically, it boils down to communication and that’s what happened there.’’

When Kenseth was told on the radio that he was being parked for having too many crew members work on his car while under the five-minute clock for crash damage, the former champion sounded incredulous that his — last? — chance to win a title ended in such a way.

With no plans announced for next year, there’s no guarantee Kenseth will be racing for a championship again. Now the goal becomes a win.

“We’ve had some great runs at Martinsville and there would be nothing greater than going there and finally getting that win with Matt,’’ Ratcliff said. “That would be special. Would it make up for not having a shot at Homestead? No, but it would be sweet to have that happen with just a few races to go in the season.’’

PIT STOPS

The final eight Cup playoff contenders include four former champions — Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. There has been a first-time champion in three of the last five years, which could be a good sign for playoff drivers Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. … With winning the pole at Kansas, Truex Jr.’s team earned the first pick of pit stalls also at Martinsville this weekend because qualifying is on the same day as the race there.

Memorial service to be held Friday for Furniture Row Racing team member Jim Watson

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A memorial service for Furniture Row Racing crew member Jim Watson will be held Friday in Lincolnton, North Carolina, his family announced Monday.

Watson, who served in a number of roles for both the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr. and No. 77 of Erik Jones, passed away Saturday night after suffering a heart attack in Kansas City, Kansas, where the teams were preparing for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race.

Watson was 55.

MORE: Furniture Row Racing crew member dies of heart attack

MORE: Long: Tears turn to cheers for Furniture Row Racing

The memorial will be from 4-6 p.m. ET Friday at the Warlick Funeral Home, 125 Dave Warlick Drive, in Lincolnton.

Watson’s obituary was included in the announcement of the memorial service:

Watson was born Sept. 27, 1962, in Kenosha, Wis., to Betty Paulus Watson and the late David Harrison Watson. He is survived by his wife, Laurie Ann Watson; a daughter, Brittany May Watson; his mother, Betty L. Watson; brother, Mike Watson; stepchildren, Eric James Conover and fiancé Claudia Rodriguez, and Matthew Sean Conover; Michael Patrick Conover, and wife Michele, and Nicholas Ian Conover; three grandchildren, Patrick Michael Conover, Michael Winston Conover, and Coleton Daniel Conover; nieces, Jennifer Watson and Katie J. Ballou; and many other uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to hatsalive.org.