I ran some analysis. Let's take a look at the results.
20 races down, 6 more to go. If each driver runs the next 6 races in some combination of their previous 20, there are 38760 possibilities for how many points they can score. (A link here for those interested in seeing the math.) How many of those 38760 possibilities can get them to the magic 3120 points total? The 3120 number is 120 x 26. 120 is the PPR needed to get 12th place, as we've seen in many of our past posts (here, here, and here)
Assuming each driver doesn't score their very best or very worst 6 races, the 38760 possibilities are an excellent summary of what will most likely happen.
I ran the numbers for every driver, and compared what portion of the combinations were enough to get them into the Chase. The data is below. You can click on the image for a bigger picture.
For example, Kyle Busch has 9078 possible ways he could score more than 773 points in 6 races (based on his first 20), which is only 23% of all the possibilities. His best 6 races this year scored him 1046 points. His worst 6 races scored 414 points. But only 23% of his 6-race combinations this year were above the 773 points he needs to reach 3120.
What you see here is color coding based on groups. Tony Stewart is going to make the chase even if he gets last place in the next 6 races.
The next set of drivers, in light blue, are common-sense certainties, given their performance this year.
The drivers in yellow all have a very strong chance of qualifying, with chances between 68 and 97 percent. Notice these are spots 5 through 12, the same drivers currently qualified.
The drivers in light orange make up spots 13-16. They have a slight chance of getting in, based on their performance this year. Between Reutimann's 26% and Bowyer's 1%. Although it's tough - they have already shown the ability this year to get the finishes they need to crack the top 12. Not likely, but it is possible.
The drivers in pink are not mathematically eliminated yet, but they haven't shown the performance this year to make it. They'd have to come up with their best streak of the year right now.
And finally, the drivers in orange, are already mathematically eliminated. Since the most you can get is 195 points per race, the guys at Harvick's level and below, don't have any chance of getting in, no matter how well they drive.
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