Saturday, August 15, 2009

Top Drivers Stepping Up Their Game in 2009

Comparing the top 20 in the Sprint Cup standings after 22 races this year and last year, we find one striking observation:

Comparing each place in the standings between first and twentieth, in almost every place the 2009 standings have more points (notice all the green in the right column). What do we learn from this?

1) Kyle Busch's 2627 points this year would be one point short of Matt Kenseth's 12th place number last year.

2) Mark Martin's 2716 points, good enough for only 11th this year, would actually be a comfortable 8th place last year.

3) Despite how "dominant" everybody thought Kyle Busch was last year, Tony Stewart's 2009 performance in fact blows it away.

The question in all this is "WHY"? I have two theories:

1) The increased gap between rich and poor teams in the sport is creating an arms race at the top of the standings.

2) The emergence of the start-and-park brigade in 2009 has been a consistent force at the bottom of the standings, serving some buffer for these good drivers. Even if they have a bad day, they might finish 37th instead of 43rd simply because the start-and-park guys have already gone to the garage. So there are always a few more points to be had.

What do other readers think? I am open to your thoughts and feedback.

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