Debate all you want but numbers show who are favorites to win Sprint Cup title

1 Comment

Last week I wrote the latest Chase prediction numbers, showing that Clint Bowyer – even on the 16th place bubble – has an 89 percent chance of making it into the Chase.

His closest competitor via simulation and historical driver performance, Kasey Kahne, has a 7 percent chance of getting in – because he is too far back on points and his limited number of wins in recent years.

However, that led to some healthy debate – including one example from the guys on “Tradin’ Paint” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, claiming that the “numbers” would have given Ryan Newman no chance in the Chase last year. Some of the callers also claimed that the numbers were not as accurate as they would like.

Well here’s the thing, we ran the numbers for 2014, exactly as we have been running the 2015 numbers.

And Ryan Newman’s chance to make it into the championship round was a healthy 18 percent.


“Image source: Andrew Maness, Pit Rho”

The numbers gave him a 76 percent of making it past the first cutoff point, a 50 percent chance of making it past the second cutoff, and an 18 percent chance of getting into the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. At the start of the Chase, the model gave him a 2 percent chance to win the title – and obviously that number grew as the Chase continued.

In the same way, we know in 2015 which drivers have performed well – and which drivers have not. We know where they are in the points standings. We know how they have done in this equipment and at upcoming tracks. That’s where we get the numbers. Each new race gives us new information to adjust the numbers. But for now this is what we know.

And what the numbers say – based on everything we know right now – is that Kevin Harvick has the best shot to win the title – at 25 percent. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the other drivers with at least a 10 percent chance of winning the title as well.

Contrast that to Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, and Paul Menard. Collectively, they have such a tiny chance of winning the title. It’s not zero – but it’s way less than 10 percent, that’s for sure.

Their chances definitely are lower than the first group. Part of the issue with the Tradin’ Paint analysis was claiming each driver in the Chase would have an equal 1-in-16 chance of winning it all.  In March Madness, a No. 1 seed is a much bigger favorite than a No. 16 seed. In the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks wouldn’t have 50-50 odds if they played each other. In the NBA, you almost never see a champion seeded outside the top three. These are real trends, backed by historical performance. Sixteen drivers might make the Chase, but they are certainly not equal.

Let’s face it: that first group is stronger than this second group. Drivers in the second group could technically still win it all, but it won’t be what people expect.

And that’s why they run the races. Each week we have new results, new performances to add to our knowledge, new changes in the points standings, new eliminations. All those things cause an adjustment to the models. Clearly there are more than 16 guys who could be in the Chase right now, but once the Chase starts, that number can only be 16 – and it only goes down. By the final race it can only be four. Until they’re eliminated, everybody is still in it. But some people have a better chance than others.

Eric Chemi runs data journalism for our sister network CNBC, including a heavy dose of sports analytics. Prior to that, his NASCAR analytics have been part of television broadcasts to predict race winners, and he consulted for Sprint Cup teams on their strategy, statistics, data, and analytics. He graduated with an engineering degree from MIT.

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

ARCA Showdown
Leave a comment

ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

social roundup
Ryan Blaney Twitter
Leave a comment

NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.


Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

Joey Gase
Joey Gase Twitter
Leave a comment

Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter