Breaking down Kevin Harvick’s statistical domination of 2018

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

For most of 2018, the Cup title  appeared to be Kevin Harvick’s championship to lose with Kyle Busch pursuing closely.

NASCAR Statistical Service’s year-end report bears that assumption out.

Harvick led nearly every statistical category with Busch a close second.

In the championship race at Miami, Harvick faded ever so slightly and was only second best in many of the following statistical categories while Joey Logano stepped up to fill the void.

Average Running Position

Harvick’s average position on track in 2018 was 8.09 with Busch following in second at 8.17. In the final race at Miami, Harvick had the second-best average running position (3.10) behind Logano’s 2.80.

Driver Rating

The driver rating is NASCAR’s attempt to create an overview of each driver performs in a race. It takes into consideration the driver’s finish, average running position while on the lead lap in green flag conditions, average speed and fastest laps as well as a bevy of bonus points. Perfect is 150.

Harvick’s average driver rating for 2018 was 115.5; Busch was second with an average of 109.3. Logano was best at Miami with a 137.1.

Harvick had a perfect driver rating at Las Vegas in March.

Fastest Early in a Run

NASCAR tracks a driver’s speed during the first 25 percent of a run to determine who is fastest early.

At Miami, Harvick was ranked second in this category with an average of 161.799 mph. His average rank for the season was 3.97; Busch was second at 5.19. Logano had the fastest average at Miami with 162.088 mph.

Fastest Late in a Run

NASCAR tracks a driver’s speed during the last 25 percent of a run to determine who is fastest late.

When a driver is fastest early and late in a run, he is hard to beat. Harvick’s average ranking for this stat was 4.90; Busch was second at 5.59. Kyle Larson topped this category at Miami with a 153.843 mph average. Harvick (153.218 mph) was second.

Giving some credence to Martin Truex Jr.’s belief that he would have caught Logano on a long run is the fact that the No. 78 was third best (153.043) at Miami; Logano was sixth (152.437).

Fastest Laps

Harvick ran the fastest green flag lap 14.7 percent of the time during 2018; Busch was second at 11.3 percent. At Miami, Larson had the fastest lap 22.2 percent of the time. Harvick was second best at 15.7 percent.

Fastest on Restarts

Harvick tied Busch in this category with an average ranking of 6.81. Logano was best at Miami (165.199) with Harvick second (164.220)

Green Flag Speed

NASCAR tracks the average speed of each driver under green flag conditions. Harvick’s average rank for the season was 3.07; Busch was second at 4.44. In this category, Harvick led the field at Miami with an average of 157.484 mph. Truex (157.360) and Logano (157.183) were next on the chart.

Laps Led

Harvick led 1,990 laps during the season (19.6 percent), which was the most; Busch led the second most at 1,469 (14.5 percent). Logano led the most last at Miami (80) with Harvick second (58).

Laps in the Top 15

This is one of the few categories Harvick did not lead in 2018. He was second best with 8,665 laps in the top 15 (85.4 percent). Busch edged Harvick with 8,777 laps (86.5 percent). At Miami, five drivers spent all 267 laps in the top 15. They included the Championship 4 of Logano, Harvick, Busch and Truex plus Aric Almirola.

Percentage of Laps Run on the Lead Lap

This statistic helps explain the one above. A big part of the reason Harvick did not have the most laps inside the top 15 was because he and the team had a propensity to make mistakes in the pits that cost them a lap in the middle portion of several races.

Harvick spent a sixth-best 87.7 percent of the time on the lead lap for the season. Logano led this category with 90.5 percent.

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COTA Xfinity Series results

COTA Xfinity results
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

AJ Allmendinger led 28 of 46 laps Saturday to win the Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

Allmendinger held off William Byron to score his first victory of the year and 16th in the Xfinity Series.

MORE: COTA Xfinity results

MORE: Xfinity points after COTA

Ty Gibbs placed third and was followed by rookie Sammy Smith and Justin Allgaier.

Smith, Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, who placed sixth, and Sam Mayer, who finished seventh, will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash next weeked at Richmond after being the top four full-time Xfinity finishers Saturday.

Austin Hill remains the points leader after six races but saw his lead shrink to 15 points on Riley Herbst. John Hunter Nemechek is third in the standings with 220 points, 29 behind Hill.



AJ Allmendinger wins Xfinity race at COTA

AJ Allmendinger Xfinity COTA
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

AJ Allmendinger overcame damage from a restart to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

This is the second year in a row he has won this race. It is Allmendinger’s first victory of the season and 16th career Xfinity win.

MORE: COTA race results, driver points 

William Byron, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, finished second. Ty Gibbs placed third, Sammy Smith fourth and Justin Allgaier fifth.

Smith, Allgaier, sixth-place finisher Daniel Hemric and seventh-place finisher Sam Mayer — the top four full-time Xfinity drivers — will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Richmond Raceway.

Allmendinger won the first stage and then pitted. When a caution came out shortly, it put him 21st in the field. On the Lap 20 restart, his car suffered damage when he was hit going into Turn 1.

Allmendinger worked his way through the field and took the lead from Sheldon Creed on Lap 33 when they made contact and Creed spun. Creed fell back to 23rd and finished the 46-lap race in ninth.

“He was struggling through the triple right-hander and I tried to make a move in the left hander and make sure I stayed off him,” Allmendinger said. “Slid in behind him and he was struggling. I popped out and thought I’m here at least. It’s just a tough angle.

“When I turned in, I thought I had a point that I was far enough alongside. He turned in. It’s just kind of a tight corner, at least the grip-side of the racetrack. If William wasn’t right behind me, I’d probably been more patient. But I kind of felt like whoever got to the lead first might be the guy that won the race. I knew that I needed to be aggressive. … It’s not what I want. I thought I was far enough along.”

Stage 1 winner: AJ Allmendinger

Stage 2 winner: Sheldon Creed

Who had a good race: Josh Berry placed eighth after suffering damage to the front of his car on the first corner of the first lap. It is his fifth consecutive top 10. … Riley Herbst‘s 10th-place finish gives him his ninth consecutive top 10.

Who had a bad race: Austin Hill, who had won three of the first five races this season, had mechanical issues early and finished 37th in the 38-car field.

Next: The series races April 1 at Richmond Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1)

COTA Truck race results: Zane Smith wins


Reigning series champion Zane Smith won Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

The victory is Smith’s second of this year.

MORE: COTA Truck race results

MORE: Truck points after COTA

Kyle Busch finished second and was followed by Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain.

The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.

Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.

Stage 1 winner: Christian Eckes

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.

Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.

Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.

Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
COTA winner Zane Smith’s truck catches fire after he did his burnout on the frontstretch. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.