Forecasting the future: Performance at Chase tracks this year provides hints in title race

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Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway marked the final one at a track that hosts a Chase for the Sprint Cup event this season before the Chase begins in September.

While the past doesn’t necessarily predict the future, here’s something to consider: Kevin Harvick had the best average finish at tracks that will host Chase events. His average finish was 4.4, including a win at Phoenix.

The eight Chase tracks that have hosted a race this season are Phoenix, Martinsville, Texas, Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte, Dover and New Hampshire.

Jimmie Johnson won three of these eight races – Texas, Kansas and Dover – but a 35th-place finish at Martinsville and a 40th at Charlotte dropped his average finish at Chase tracks to 14.1. That didn’t even make the top 10 among best average finishes.

Only two drivers among the top 10 in best average finishes at Chase tracks this season won a race there: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick.

source: Getty Images
(Getty Images)

Earnhardt’s average finish of 13.5 ranked ninth. He was hurt by a 43rd-place finish at Phoenix and a 36th at Martinsville. He won at Talladega and scored top-three finishes at Talladega, Texas, Kansas and Charlotte.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ran at eight of the 10 Chase tracks this season – the series won’t run at Chicagoland Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway until the Chase.

Here’s a look at the best average finishes for drivers at Chase tracks that have hosted a race this year. Wins at those tracks this season are in parenthesis:

1 – Kevin Harvick (1 win) … 4.4

2 – Martin Truex Jr. (0 wins) … 7.4

3 – Brad Keselowski (0 wins) … 7.9

4 – Joey Logano (0 wins) … 10.1

5 – Jamie McMurray (0 wins) … 11.8

5 – Ryan Newman (0 wins) … 11.8

5 – Jeff Gordon (0 wins) … 11.8

8 – Kurt Busch (0 wins) … 13.0

9 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1 win) … 13.5

10 – Kasey Kahne (0 wins) … 13.6

11 – Jimmie Johnson (3 wins) … 14.1

12 – Aric Almirola (0 wins) … 14.1

13 – Carl Edwards (1 win) … 14.9

14 – Matt Kenseth (0 wins) … 15.4

15 – Kyle Busch (1 win) … 16.0*

16 – Denny Hamlin (1 win) … 16.0

* Average is for three races – ran only at Charlotte, Dover and New Hampshire among Chase tracks.