Win and Advance in the Chase, Win Again and Eliminate a Chaser

Martin Truex Jr. was caught a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway. He was fast, so fast that he all but unlapped himself. Fast forward to this past week at Dover International Speedway and Martin Truex Jr. was real fast. He was so fast that he almost lapped the field. When he won there were only six cars on the lead lap. Truex has now won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Wining one race automatically advances you to the next round of the Chase. Winning another race may keep another competitor who may have needed to win from advancing. In this case it did not since Kyle Busch already had enough points to advance. It does get one to question what could be done with multiple wins in the Chase. Can there be a way to encourage and reward it.

Here is an idea. What if drivers win multiple races in the Chase and an extra driver is eliminated from the Chase in each round of a multiple win. For instance this round Martin Truex Jr. won two races in the first round. The next round of the Chase is the Round of 12. Since he won an additional race then the next round could have only 11 drivers; 16 drivers minus the scheduled 4 plus an extra one.

Kevin Harvick won the second race of the Round of 16. If he should win another race in the Round of 12 then another driver would be eliminated for the Round of 8 such that there would only be 7 drivers in that round.

Extrapolating out if Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. should happen to win three races in the Round of 12 then there would only be 5 drivers in the Round of 8.  If this pattern continues then Harvick and Truex would be left to fight it out at Homestead Miami Speedway.

If Truex were to win all three races of the round of 8 then he would win the Championship prior to Homestead Miami Speedway.

Think about it. Right now you win to guarantee to advance in a round but you race to maintain your position in the standings to advance. This format throws some Offense into the game. Win and advance. Win again to eliminate your competition. This just ramps it up to a whole new level.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 321972 Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images

Does Anyone Have Anything for Superman at Martinsville?

Jimmie Johnson has as perfect a driver rating at Martinsville Speedway as a driver can have of 118.4.  This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action from the Easter break. Does anyone have anything for Jimmie Johnson?

To reiterate a perfect driver rating is 150. The only way a driver can have a perfect rating is if they lead all the laps and win the race. It is impossible for a driver after many races, in this case 22 races to have a perfect rating. A dominating driver will have a rating of 120. Johnson is almost there.

If it was up to me we would race at Martinsville more than two times a year, it’s a special place for me, and my Lowe’s team.” Johnson added, “I had a great weekend off with the family, we are still so excited to have won California and heading to one of my favorite tracks. I’m ready to get back behind the wheel.

Martinsville is one of the hardest tracks in NASCAR. That is what makes Johnson’s driver rating so impressive. There is hope though.

Denny Hamlin, the winner of this race last year, also has an impressive driver rating of 110. Of active drivers Hamlin is second only to Johnson in wins with five to his eight.  Jimmie Johnson has not won this race since the spring of 2013.

I think it will be another fight this weekend to get the win at Martinsville. We have had a lot of success over the years at that track and seem to battle the same guys each year for the win.” Hamlin added, “Jimmie (Johnson) is obviously strong there and our teammates will be tough to beat. Friday’s qualifying is big in terms of getting a good pit stall and on Sunday it’s important to have a mistake-free race. Any sort of issue or penalty can get you a couple laps down in a hurry and spoil a good day. I believe our FedEx Camry will be up front competing for another win.

As Denny Hamlin noted it is important to have a mistake-free race. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick will be there to pounce and scoop up the win. Last year Joey Logano and his teammate Brad Keselowski worked well together but just couldn’t get it done in spite of leading many laps between them in both races. They will also be a factor. If any of these drivers can qualify up front and race mistake free they will have something for Johnson or Hamlin.

If you cannot get to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 it will be broadcast live on FS1 Sunday April 3rd, 2016 at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 318109 Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

Driver Rating
Martinsville Speedway
STP 500
Provided by NASCAR Statistics Stats Represent Points Races From 2005-Present
Rank Car Driver Team Avg. Finish High Rating Avg. Rating
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s 6.9 149.1 118.4
2 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground 8.1 141.1 110.6
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nationwide 11.9 133.1 99.4
4 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s 75 15.1 133.4 96.5
5 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s 14.7 129 94.6
6 15 Clint Bowyer Aaron???s 13.7 127.9 92.5
7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil 14.9 121.9 89.7
8 2 Brad Keselowski AutoTrader 15.5 114.9 87.8
9 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald???s 16.8 114.4 86.9
10 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar 14.5 109.6 86.5
11 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General 13.9 134.6 85.9
12 19 Carl Edwards Arris 15.5 121.1 81.5
13 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy / Haas 21.2 115.8 80.2
14 14 Brian Vickers Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 19.2 112.4 79.4
15 5 Kasey Kahne Panasonic 20.5 112.8 77.5

2016 NASCAR Sprint Unlimited Driver Breakdown, Yes it’s confusing

The NASCAR Offseason is over. OK, not quite over but there will be some NASCAR racing beginning with the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race. Here are the drivers who will be entered into the race trying to get a head start on their week in Daytona and perhaps a jump on a great Daytona 500.

This year’s race will consist of two segments, 25 and 50 laps, with a competition caution coming after Lap 25.

The Sprint Unlimited consists of those drivers who have won a Coors Light Pole Award the previous season plus former Daytona 500 pole winners. Drivers who entered at least one race last year and have also won a previous Sprint Unlimited can also enter this race.

2015 Pole Winners:

AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano

Former Sprint Unlimited Winners:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (’03, ’08)
Tony Stewart (’01, ’02, ‘07)

Former Daytona 500 Pole Winners:

Austin Dillon (‘14)
Danica Patrick (’13)
Martin Truex Jr. (’09)
David Gilliland (‘07)
Greg Biffle (’04)

2014 Chase Contenders (Not Already Qualified for the Race)

Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman

In the Race via Their 2015 Points:

The Sprint Unlimited field is limited to 25 drivers. If for some reason the 25 driver field has not been filled with Pole Winners, Previous Limited Winners, Daytona 500 Pole Winners or Chase Contenders the rest of the field is filed by driver points.  This is where the rest of the entry list can get confusing.

There are 23 drivers who are eligible for the 25 driver field. That leaves two spots open for Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson.  Jeff Gordon retired and is not entering the race. That adds Casey Mears to the field on points.

Tony Stewart is injured and will not be entering the race. SHR has appealed to NASCAR that on this late date they had prepared a car and spent much money and effort on it. NASCAR has allowed them to enter the race even though the driver may or may not be otherwise eligible. The candidate for that car is Brian Vickers if he is medically cleared to race and it appears he may have.

If any other driver does not enter the race then the next driver on the bubble would be Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and David Ragan who both do not have a ride. Trevor Bayne, who does have a ride, would be next.  At this point in time that driver would be David Gilliland who as of this writing does not have a ride. If he is not in the race then Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would be.

This race has been won by only nine different drivers since 2001. #14-Tony Stewart (07, 02, 01), #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (08, 03), Dale Jarrett (04), #48-Jimme Johnson (05), #11-Denny Hamlin (14, 06), #4-Kevin Harvick (13, 10, 09), #41-Kurt Busch (11), #18-Kyle Busch (12), and #20-Matt Kenseth (15).

As for the race itself and what to expect it gets much simpler. Those drivers who somehow excel at restrictor plate racing will figure prominently in this race. The odds are very good that one of those nine drivers, who have won this race since 2001, will repeat.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the Sprint Unlimited it will be broadcast live on Fox, Saturday February 13th starting at 8 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 304913 Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona – NASCAR Style

Every year at this time NASCAR fans long for the new season to begin. A sure sign that the NASCAR season will be soon is the running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. It is that time again and the long cold winter with NASCAR is about over.

This is the 54th annual running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This race features some of the stars of all forms of racing. This year is no exception. We have three NASCAR drivers entered into the race.

AJ Allmendinger will share driving duties for the DP Class No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda HPD Michael Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian with  John Pew, Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Olivier Pla. This line up of drivers except Olivier Pla and team are the winners of the Daytona Prototype Class in 2014. Olivier Pla replaces Justin Wilson who died in August of last year after being struck in the head by debris from another wreck in an Indy car race.

The Rolex 24 is such a tough race to win. Every year teams show up and they have a lot of speed in their racecars. In the end, the race itself is the toughest thing. If you don’t get to the end of 24 hours, then you don’t have a shot to win so that’s the focus.”  Allmendinger added, “No matter what, it’s going to be difficult. There are a lot of cars here that have a lot of speed but I really do think we have the best line up, the best team and the best car and if we get to the end of the race we’ll have a great shot to win.

Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson will share driving duties for the DP class No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing with Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. This line up of drivers and team are the winners of the Daytona Prototype Class last year. Last year Jamie McMurray etched his name into the record books by becoming the third driver to ever win both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Daytona 500. The other drivers just happen to be racing legends A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.

Both of these teams have been the class of the field in recent years leading NASCAR fans to think that this race is dominated by teams that have NASCAR ties. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Most of the teams have the best drivers from all forms of racing. Click for a full entry list for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The Rolex 24 is a very interesting race in that several different classes of race cars race at the same time. Imagine if NASCAR held a very long race in which there were Sprint Cup Cars, Xfinity Series Cars and Camping World Truck Series trucks on the track at the same time. It makes for some interesting racing watching those cars that are out classed get passed by those that obviously have a large advantage.

When you consider the strategy that can be played by those drivers who are not too tired by setting up passing those slower cars; the interest level gets raised a bar or two. Then those drivers who are not fresh try a similar move and disaster strikes. That in a small nut shell is what this 24 hour race is all about. I recommend watching as much as you can.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway it will be televised on a combination of the TV and the Internet. It will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) Saturday January 30th 2016 from 2-4 PM ET then on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) from 4-10 PM. At 10 PM the race moves to the internet streaming live at imsa.tv until 7 AM Sunday. FS1 will pick up the coverage again at 7 AM ET until 10:30 AM ET when the race switch back to FS2 until 1 PM. The race will finish on FS1 until 2:40 PM ET. This race is a timed event so it will finish promptly prior to 2:40 regardless of the laps run so plan accordingly to see the finish.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 304272LAT Photo USA for IMSA

2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona TV Schedule
Start End Network
Saturday January 30th.
2:00 PM 4:00 PM FS1
4:00 PM 10:00 PM FS2
10:00 PM 7:00 AM imsa.tv
Sunday January 31st.
7:00 AM 10:30 AM FS1
10:30 AM 1:00 PM FS2
1:00 PM 3:00 PM FS1
* All Times ET

 

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule

The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is upon us. The 2015 season was full of drama and excitement with Kyle Busch overcoming everything to be the Champion. We don’t know if 2016 will have the same level of drama and excitement but we do know that it will be the last season for the Sprint Cup Series. There will be a new title sponsor for 2017.

This past year we were treated at every track with tributes to Jeff Gordon in his last season of racing. In 2016 expect three time Champion Tony Stewart to receive similar recognition.

Check out the schedule and make your travel plans to attend a race or two. Don’t forget to check out to see if there is a companion event for the XFINITY or Camping World Truck Series. Hope to see you there.

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule
Saturday, Feb. 13 Sprint Unlimited Daytona International Speedway FOX
Thursday, Feb. 18 Can-Am Duel At Daytona 1 Daytona International Speedway FS1
Thursday, Feb. 18 Can-Am Duel At Daytona 2 Daytona International Speedway FS1
Sunday, Feb. 21 Daytona 500 Daytona International Speedway FOX
Sunday, Feb. 28 Folds Of Honor Quiktrip 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX
Sunday, Mar. 06 Kobalt 400 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX
Sunday, Mar. 13 Good Sam 500 Phoenix International Raceway FOX
Sunday, Mar. 20 Auto Club 400 Auto Club Speedway FOX
Sunday, Apr. 03 STP 500 Martinsville Speedway FS1
Saturday, Apr. 09 Duck Commander 500 Texas Motor Speedway FOX
Sunday, Apr. 17 Food City 500 Bristol Motor Speedway FOX
Sunday, Apr. 24 Toyota Owners 400 Richmond International Raceway FOX
Sunday, May 01 Geico 500 Talladega Superspeedway FOX
Saturday, May 07 Kansas 400 Kansas Speedway FS1
Sunday, May 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup May Dover Race Dover International Speedway FS1
Saturday, May 21 NASCAR  Sprint All-Star Race Charlotte Motor Speedway FS1
Sunday, May 29 Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway FOX
Sunday, Jun. 05 Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 Pocono Raceway FS1
Sunday, Jun. 12 Firekeepers Casino 400 Michigan International Speedway FS1
Sunday, Jun. 26 Toyota Savemart 350 Sonoma Raceway FS1
Saturday, Jul. 02 Coke Zero 400 Daytona International Speedway NBC
Saturday, Jul. 09 Quaker State 400 Presented By Advance Auto Parts Kentucky Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Jul. 17 New Hampshire 301 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Jul. 24 Crown Royal Presents The ‘Your Hero’s Name Here’ 400 At The Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Jul. 31 Pennsylvania 400 Pocono Raceway NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 07 Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Watkins Glen International USA
Saturday, Aug. 20 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 28 Pure Michigan 400 Michigan International Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Sep. 04 Bojangles’ Southern 500 Darlington Raceway NBC
Saturday, Sep. 10 Federated Auto Parts 400 Richmond International Raceway NBCSN
Round of 16
Sunday, Sep. 18 September Chicagoland Race Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Sep. 25 New England 300 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Oct. 02 AAA 400 Dover International Speedway NBCSN
Round of 12
Saturday, Oct. 08 October Charlotte Race Charlotte Motor Speedway NBC
Sunday, Oct. 16 Hollywood Casino 400 Kansas Speedway NBC
Sunday, Oct. 23 Alabama 500 Talladega Superspeedway NBCSN
Round of 8
Sunday, Oct. 30 Goody’s Fast Relief 500 Martinsville Speedway NBCSN
Sunday, Nov. 06 AAA Texas 500 Texas Motor Speedway NBC
Sunday, Nov. 13 Can-Am 500 Phoenix International Raceway NBC
Championship Round
Sunday, Nov. 20 Ford Ecoboost 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway NBC
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 314444 Chris Trotman/Getty Images

News and Commentary from Pit Row

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