Wednesday, October 9, 2013

And then there were two: 85% Chance of Johnson or Kenseth Winning the Title

The race at Kansas finally provided an opening for the rest of the Chase field to catch up to our top 3 drivers: Jimmie Johnson (6th), Matt Kenseth (11th), and Kyle Busch (34th) all finished outside the top 5.

Kevin Harvick took advantage of this opportunity. By winning the race, Harvick's championship hopes rose to 9%.

Kyle Busch was the big loser, crashing down to 4.6%, well below his 21% last week.

Despite having several problems on Sunday, Johnson’s 6th place finish pushed his title chances to 46.7%, and has given him a reasonable lead in our predictive model:

Even though Kenseth officially leads by 3 points in the standings, our model gives Johnson the edge, because the numbers suggest Johnson has a higher chance of outperforming Kenseth in the next six races.

Kenseth’s 11th place finish at Kansas, his worst of the Chase, still boosted his title chances ever so slightly, from 37.6% up to 37.8%.

The main problem for the rest of the field: our two top drivers, Kenseth and Johnson, actually increased their chances of winning the title to 85%, up from 75% last week.

The other nine drivers only have the faintest of hopes: 1.0% for Jeff Gordon, and 0.8% for everybody else combined.

If you look closely at the table, you will see Kasey Kahne is missing. That’s because the model gives him absolutely no hope at all of winning the title. In 50,000 championship simulations, Kahne wins the title zero times. The other drivers on the list still have a miracle shot, like Ryan Newman at .002% (1 title in 50,000 simulations) or Carl Edwards at .022% (11 titles out of 50,000).

Finally, we still expect the points total for this year’s champion to be right around 2400 points, just like the last two champions:

Check in next week, after Charlotte, for updated forecasts.