Tuesday, October 30, 2012

By The Numbers, Jimmie Favored Again In Texas

Johnson leads the series to Texas
With just three races remaining in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, it’s a four-man battle for the championship. Five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson leads challenger Brad Keselowski by just two points in the race for the title, while Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne remain on the fringes of title contention. 

Of the four championship contenders, five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson once again appears to be the best bet for Victory Lane Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. The current Sprint Cup Series point leader has one win in 18 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas, with eight Top-5 and 13 Top-10 finishes and an average finish of 9.7.  

Johnson has just one finish outside the Top-10 in his last five Texas starts; a 14th-place showing last fall. He finished second behind winner Greg Biffle there in April, after leading 156 laps. 
By comparison, Keselowski has struggled at Texas, with an average finish of 25.3 in eight career races there. Those numbers are somewhat skewed by a 36th-place finish earlier this season due to a failed electronic fuel injection component, but his Miller Lite “Blue Deuce” has often struggled at TMS. Since joining Penske Racing, Keselowski’s best Texas finish has been a 14th in August of 2010, and he has three finishes of 30th or worse.

Lifetime, Keselowski has an average Texas running position of just 23.2, 27th-best among active Sprint Cup Series drivers.
Like Keselowski, third-place point man Clint Bowyer has never won a Sprint Cup race at TMS. He does have three Top-5 and seven Top-10 finishes in 13 starts there, however, good for an average finish of 13.3. His average running position at the Fort Worth oval is 13.4, ninth-best among active drivers. 

Fourth place contender Kasey Kahne is a former winner at Texas Motor Speedway, having driven to Victory Lane in the 2006 Samsung/Radio Shack 500 for Evernham Motorsports. He also has four Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes there in 16 career starts; good for an average finish of 18.8. His average running position of 16.0 is 16th-best among active Sprint Cup Series drivers at Texas. 

Trailing Johnson by 26 and 29 points, respectively, Bowyer and Kahne will need strong runs Sunday – along with some stumbling by Johnson – to position themselves strongly for a championship run in the final two races at Phoenix and Homestead.
Photo: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images North America

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