Even if you win the most races in a year, you’re not guaranteed a championship or the best average finish over the season’s 36 races.
Just ask Joey Logano, who finished 2015 with the second-best average finish after winning six times.
NASCAR Talk takes a look at the top 10 average finishes among Sprint Cup drivers who competed in all 36 points races.
2015 Sprint Cup Champion Kyle Busch missed the first 11 races of the season due to injury and finished with an average finish of 10.8, which would rank third. His brother, Kurt Busch, missed the first three races due to suspension and finished the season with an average of 11.1 that would tie for fifth.
Even with the removal of the Busch brothers, Matt Kenseth, who was suspended for two Chase for the Sprint Cup races, just would miss the top 10 with his average of 14.3.
- Kevin Harvick; 8.7 – Were you expecting someone else? Harvick won three times in 2015, but the real mark of his consistency was finishing second 13 times, the most since NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison did it 15 times in 1970. He topped his average from his championship year, which was 12.9. He also tied his best average, also finishing with 8.7 in 2010. That year, Harvick also won three races.
- Joey Logano; 9.2 – Logano, the wins leader in 2015 with six, earned a top-10 average for the first time in his seven full-time seasons. His average has risen every season since ending 2011 at 19.1.
- Brad Keselowski; 11.1 – Keselowski finished the year with just one win (Auto Club Speedway), but he also fell victim to one only DNF (engine failure in the Daytona 500). Thirty-five races later, the Team Penske driver had his best average finish since the 10.1 he earned in his 2012 championship year.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 11.3 – Earnhardt may have won one more race in 2014 (four), but he consistently ran better in 2015, topping his average finish of 12.2. His 11.3 this season is also the best of a full sesaon in his career (he had a 10.9 while missing two races with a concussion in 2012).
- Martin Truex Jr.; 12.2 – Yes, Truex had the best season of his career, earning career highs in top five (eight) and top-10 finishes (22). But he didn’t end 2015 with his best average finish. That came in 2012 with an average of 12.1. The likely difference was the two DNFs that Truex suffered in consecutive races (Sonoma, Daytona).
- Jimmie Johnson; 12.8 – The last two seasons have seen the No. 48 team earn its two lowest average finishes in Johnson’s 14-year tenure. He finished 2014 with an average of 15.3.
- Ryan Newman; 13.5 – A year after earning his career-best average finish (12.7), Newman posted his second best. In neither year did Newman visit victory lane. His 2015 total is better than his average from 2003 (13.9) when he won eight races. That year he also had seven DNFs to his one in 2015.
- Denny Hamlin; 13.6* – Hamlin earned his best average since 2012 (12.8). (*Hamlin started all 36 races, but Erik Jones completed the spring Bristol race.)
- Jeff Gordon; 13.7 – Gordon finished his Sprint Cup career with his second-best average over his last four years but only his fifth best since 2008. His best total over the last seven years of his career was 10.2 in 2009.
- Carl Edwards; 14th – Edwards tied his 2014 result totals in wins (two) and top fives (seven) and added one more top 10 (15) to increase his average finish from 15.1 last year.