June 3, 2009

Flat tracks, three-year avg. fin

With its three dissimilar corners, Pocono Raceway is one of the most unique tracks on the circuit, but that doesn't mean that it is without comparatives.

Flat tracks require a distinctive set of skills. Drivers have to show patience entering the corners and be prepared to drive like a maniac from the center outward. To help make this week's decision on who to start at Pocono, fantasy owners will find a ton of inspiration from NASCAR's four other flat tracks of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.

The proof of how well these tracks compare to one another can be found in a driver's consistency. Last year, one racer swept the top 10 in the nine races held on those tracks and two others failed to finish that well only a single time. Jimmie Johnson was the perfect driver; in his nine attempts, he won four times—once each at Indy and Martinsville, plus a season sweep at Phoenix—and in those races, he averaged a result of 3.1. The No. 48 team carried that momentum forward and won this spring at Martinsville before finishing fourth at Phoenix.

Denny Hamlin was nearly perfect. He finished in the top 10 in all but one flat track race last year, and that exception came because of a miscalculation in the pits. On an alternate pit strategy, he got stranded 23rd in Pocono's fall race, or else he would most likely have been challenging the leaders when the checkers waved. Fantasy owners will be interested in knowing that Hamlin's three-year average finish on this track type is 6.3 compared to Johnson's 7.6 during that same span.

Carl Edwards is the final driver to nearly sweep the top 10. He finished 17th in the first New Hampshire race, but was perfect otherwise. Better still, after that single bobble, he swept the top five in the last five flat track events. This streak was highlighted by a victory in the fall Pocono race, which makes him a driver to watch closely this weekend. Unfortunately, he's been a little more uneven this season and finished 26th at Martinsville earlier in the spring.

Flat track average finish, last three years

DriverAvg FinishAttempts
Denny Hamlin6.3027
Jimmie Johnson7.5927
Jeff Gordon9.3027
Mark Martin9.7818
Tony Stewart10.4127
Jeff Burton11.5627
Kevin Harvick12.1527
Carl Edwards13.2227
Matt Kenseth14.6727
Dale Earnhardt Jr15.7427
Martin Truex Jr16.5227
Clint Bowyer16.9327
Greg Biffle17.0027
Kurt Busch17.1527
Kyle Busch17.6727
Ryan Newman18.0427
Kasey Kahne20.1527
Juan Montoya20.8020
Bobby Labonte21.2227
Casey Mears21.2627
Jamie McMurray22.3327
David Ragan22.3321
Marcos Ambrose22.605
Reed Sorenson24.9327
David Stremme25.2818
Brian Vickers25.5627
Elliott Sadler27.4827
David Reutimann27.9520
Paul Menard28.2421
Joey Logano28.333
Regan Smith28.4613
Sterling Marlin28.6414
Dave Blaney28.9627
David Gilliland29.4823
Patrick Carpentier29.577
Robby Gordon30.6527
Sam Hornish Jr31.0714
A J Allmendinger31.8318
Joe Nemechek32.8526
Michael Waltrip33.5826
Scott Speed35.754
John Andretti42.229
Derrike Cope47.007

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