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.