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NASCAR Math: 8 Drivers, 20 Points, 1 Trophy = High Drama

October 14, 2011

Article first published as NASCAR Math: 8 Drivers, 20 Points, 1 Trophy = High Drama on Technorati.

I hate math. These days you almost need a degree in quantum physics to calculate probabilites, statistics, point differentials and scenarios inNASCAR. For instance do you remember ratios? To compare this season, using a brand new points system to seasons past, you have to look at rations.

The top-eight drivers are separated by only 20 points. With NASCAR’s simpler point-per-position format, what does that mean, exactly? Here’s one way look at it: What used to be a 25 point penalty is now six tiny little points.

So, put on your algebra hat and work the ratio:
If 6 is to 25, then 20 (points from first to eighth ) is to X?
I think you will find that X = 83.3.

That little calculation told us that this years 20 point separation from first to eighth would be 83 points in years past. Looking back, the fewest points separating first and eighth after the first four Chase races was 116 points in 2005. That makes this race season the tightest ever this deep into the season.

The drivers involved in this high octane affair and all the dynamics of competition makes this seasons chase one of the most drama filled title fights in NASCAR history. In one corner you’ve got Jimmie Johnson running for his sixth straight Sprint Cup. At Kansas Speedway last week, Johnson won his 20th career Chase race. He is the only driver to have won at least one race in all eight editions of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Don’t count on him slowing down. After a runner-up finish at Dover two weeks ago and the win at Kansas, a similar outcome seems likely at Charlotte on Saturday night. Johnson boasts six wins there which ties him for most all-time with NASCAR Hall of FamerBobby Allison and Hall of Fame inducteeDarrell Waltrip.

Then around the other corners you have title contender Carl Edwards, who nabbed the points lead with an unlikely fifth-place finish at Kansas. He now holds a slim one-point lead over Kevin Harvick who is looking for the Charlotte sweep. Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

There are also three past champions within striking distance. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth have all hoisted the Sprint Cup.

You can’t count out Chase rookie Brad Keselowski in the fourth spot trailing Edwards by only 11 points. And then there’s Kyle Busch, a threat to win anytime he rolls out on a speedway. You can bet with six Chase races remaining, Kyle Busch, sitting in the eight spot, is not going to just lie down. He’s going to cinch up the gloves and get at it.

This is like a David and Goliath whodunit where all the players are the big guy.

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