Race Weekend Central

Numbers Game 04/23/2012

by Garrett Horton

To say it’s been a rocky start for Jeff Gordon would be a huge understandment. His two finishes of 35th or worse eclipses the number of top-5’s he has this year – one, which came last week at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has three top-5’s in 2012, just one short of the most he’s had in a year since 2008. His four top-5 results last season were the most since his rookie campaign with Rick Hendrick.

The last four races have averaged only 3.25 cautions. The short track Martinsville was the only one that had more than three yellows, with seven.

Since crashing out of the Daytona 500 and finishing 42nd, Jimmie Johnson has averaged a sixth place finish the following seven races, slightly below Greg Biffle’s 5.9 average result in all eight races in 2012.

While no race has been won from the pole in 2012, seven out of the eight races have been won by a driver who started in the top-10. The only time a race winner started further back was when Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag at Phoenix after starting 13th.

By finishing ninth at Kansas, Carl Edwards now has 11 consecutive top-10 finishes at tracks that are a mile and a half in length. The last time he finished outside the top-10 at one of these tracks was last May in the Coke 600 at Charlotte, when he finished 16th.

The highest up a driver in points without a top-5 finish in 2012 is Joey Logano, who sits 12th in points. His best finish so far was a ninth-place effort in the season opening Daytona 500.

The worst points leader Greg Biffle has finsihed all year – he finished 13th at the two short tracks, Bristol and Martinsville.

Denny Hamlin picked up his 19th career win on Sunday, which is the fourth most since his rookie season in 2006. Hamlin trails only Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and JGR teammate Kyle Busch in the win column.

Martin Truex led 173 laps on Sunday, the second highest total of his Cup career. The only time he led more circuits in a race was five years ago at Dover, when he paced the field 216 times en route to his first and only career victory. This comes a week after leading 69 laps at Texas, which is now his fifth highest total for laps led in a race.

Hamlin’s win at Kansas was the 199th victory for the car number 11, passing the No. 43 for most all time.

Going back to last season, Martin Truex, Jr. has scored a total of 363 points over the last ten races, more than any other driver.

Dave Blaney, who came so close to winning the Daytona 500, has completed just 2066 out of a possible 2526 laps this year, fewer than any other driver who has started all eight races.

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