Saturday, November 23, 2013

Recapping the Final Race at Homestead


As we discussed last week, Matt Kenseth was predicted to be a huge favorite to win Homestead. He came as close as possible – winning the pole, leading the most laps, and finished second.

We also predicted that Jimmie Johnson was probably going to win the title anyway, taking a 91% chance into the final race. He easily wrapped up the title by finishing ninth, despite a scare late in the race. 

Johnson finished with 2419 total points, exactly as we forecasted a couple weeks ago. 2419 points puts Johnson well ahead of the previous two championship performances: Tony Stewart (2403) and Brad Keselowski (2400). 

Kenseth, despite finishing second this year, did so well that his 2400 points total would have won him the title last season. But Johnson’s domination put so much distance on the field, that Kenseth’s great performance ended up being closer to third place than to the title: Kenseth finished 15 points ahead of Kevin Harvick, while ending 19 points behind Johnson. 

As has been true every single season, pre-Chase bonus points again turned out to be irrelevant, validating what we discussed a couple months ago. Kenseth had an extra 3 points over Johnson to start the Chase, but lost by 19. Johnson had a total of 12 bonus points entering the Chase - even with 0 bonus points, Johnson would have still been the champion. 

Finally, here is a quick stats recap of Johnson’s season, across the full 36 races:
  • 6 wins (Kenseth had 7) 
  • 16 top-5s (tied with Kyle Busch) 
  • 24 top-10s (best in series: ahead of everybody else by at least 2) 
  • 3 poles (Hamlin had 5) 
  • 1985 laps led (ahead of everybody else by at least 200) 
  • 10.7 Average Finish (next best was 11.2) 
  • 1 DNF (three drivers had 0) 
  • 28 lead lap finishes (tied for 8th here – Kevin Harvick had 33) 
As you can see, in most fields, Johnson was not the best. His strength is in consistency: he had the most top-10 finishes, led the most laps, and had the highest average finish. He didn’t crash out, even in the many races where he finished off the lead lap. Johnson’s championship finish came by minimizing the damage in his bad races.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Did My Homestead Picks Do?

Let's review how my Homestead picks fared from the latest BSports video:

Homestead Favorites
  • Matt Kenseth (won the pole, led 144 laps, and finished second)
  • Carl Edwards (finished 12th)
  • Greg Biffle (finished 24th)
Threats for First Homestead Win
  • Martin Truex, Jr. (finished 4th)
  • Kyle Busch (finished 7th)
  • Kevin Harvick (led 8 laps and finished 10th)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kenseth’s Implosion Gives Johnson a 91% Chance of Winning the Title

With only one race left to go, Jimmie Johnson should have an easy time coming home with the championship. Johnson’s third place finish at Phoenix, compared to Matt Kenseth’s poor 23rd place showing, gives him a 28 point lead in the official standings, enough for a 91% chance of winning the title.

If Johnson finishes 23rd or better next week, he wins the title – regardless of how Kenseth does. 

Kenseth succumbed to the pressure at Phoenix, and Johnson took advantage of that to pull away. We also saw Denny Hamlin fall apart in the final two races of 2010, when he was competing against Johnson and Kevin Harvick for the title. 

Speaking of Harvick, his win this past weekend keeps him mathematically alive – he is only six points behind Kenseth in the standings, and has a 3% chance of winning the title. Harvick’s win also puts him in great position to take over second place in the final standings, along with the extra money that comes with it. 


What else is there to say? Johnson did a great job throughout this entire Chase, never had a significantly bad stumble, and even his absolute worst Chase race (13th at Talladega) was not bad in the big picture. He has the space he needs now to take it easy at Homestead. 

Early in the Chase our model put Johnson as the title favorite, even though Kenseth was still leading the points standings. We expected Johnson to pass Kenseth, and he did. Even our initial prediction, before the Chase started, put Johnson as the favorite – with Kenseth second. 

At this point, there is nothing left to calculate. Expect Jimmie Johnson to capture his sixth title at Homestead this weekend.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Did My Phoenix Picks Do?

Let's see how Phoenix picks fared today.

Favorites

  • Jimmie Johnson (won the pole, led 1 lap, and finished third)
  • Kurt Busch (finished fifth)
  • Kyle Busch (finished seventh)


Threats for First Phoenix Win

  • Juan Pablo Montoya (finished sixth)
  • Martin Truex, Jr. (finished eighth)
  • Greg Biffle (led 1 lap and finished 13th)


Not bad to get 3-5-6-7-8-13



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

With Win at Texas, Jimmie Johnson Takes a 68-31% Lead Over Matt Kenseth For the Title

By winning and leading the most laps at Texas, Jimmie Johnson’s dominating performance gave him a 7-point lead over Matt Kenseth in the standings, breaking their tie from last week. While 7 points may not seem like a huge lead, it’s good enough to give Johnson a 68.1% chance of winning the title. Kenseth’s fourth place finish put him at 31.4%, down from 41% last week.

Combined, these top two drivers have a 99.5% chance of winning the title. The only names left are Kevin Harvick (0.35%) and Kyle Busch (0.17%), who would need extreme miracles to catch up.



To get a sense of how far ahead Johnson and Kenseth are, the expected points total for this year’s champion is now around 2420. This is much higher than where recent champions Tony Stewart (2403) and Brad Keselowski (2400) finished in the last two years. Johnson and Kenseth are on pace to beat both of those championship totals. Unfortunately, the loser of this battle could have won the title in either of the past two years.



Notice the long tail below 2400, stretching as low as 2375. These results would only happen if Johnson and Kenseth both suffer problems in the final two races, and it might allow Busch or Harvick to sneak in with an unexpected victory. Busch and Harvick’s only chance for winning the title can come if both leaders have problems in both races. It’s theoretically possible, but not probable.

Check in next week, after Phoenix, for the probabilities going into the last race at Homestead.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

How Did My Texas Picks Do?

Let's review how my Texas picks turned out today:

Texas Favorites

  • Matt Kenseth (led three laps and finished 4th including an early pit-road penalty)
  • Greg Biffle (led one lap and finished 12th)
  • Kyle Busch (led two laps but finished 13th because of a late pit-road penalty)


Threats for First Texas Win

  • Brad Keselowski (led 30 laps and finished 6th)
  • Clint Bowyer (finished 10th)
  • Martin Truex, Jr. (finished 14th)