Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Update: Phoenix

Saturday, March 18, 2017


It didn’t seem to matter if was a practice session or qualification, four names kept popping up at the top of the leaderboard on Friday and Saturday. Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney not only jumped to the top of the each chart, they have been the class of the field in race trim during the first three weeks. Fantasy players will benefit because these drivers are fairly well spaced in salary cap games.

Logano posted a lap of 137.321 mph in the final round of qualification and leads the field to green for the first time at Phoenix International Raceway. He posted the third-fastest lap in Friday’s practice session, was second-fast Saturday morning, and was fastest in Happy Hour. This may be his first time on the pole, but he already knows where Victory Lane is located after winning last fall.

Logano’s affiliate partner lines up on the outside of row one. This is Ryan Blaney’s best qualification ever in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. That should be viewed in a positive light given that his previous best of third was tied last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He raced with the leaders effortlessly in the Kobalt 400 and closed out the race with a top-10 finish. Blaney stayed at the top of the leaderboard most of the weekend, but slipped to 14th in final practice.

Chase Elliott topped the chart in the first and second practice sessions. He slipped just a little in qualification, but still lines up seventh on the grid. He has a near-perfect balance of speed and durability with the second-quickest, 10-lap average in Saturday morning’s session. The driver of the No. 24 has had a legitimate shot at winning the first three races. He could find this track a little more difficult to master, but should be able to keep his perfect record of Phoenix top-10s alive.

Kyle Larson was just behind Elliott most of the weekend. He had the second-fastest lap in practice one and was third in the second session. That margin will level out in the race because the No. 42 starts closer to the front on the outside of the second row.

Erik Jones was consistently the best rookie at Phoenix International Raceway. He out-qualified Ty Dillon by seven positions and lines up eighth on the grid. He also set the curve for the freshman class in each of the practice sessions. Jones enters the weekend with a two-race, top-15 streak and with a little luck he will be able to keep that alive. It will only take a minor mistake to lose track position on this one-mile oval, however, and that means all of the rookies come with some risk.

If not for his record, Kevin Harvick would probably be listed as a driver to avoid. He qualified only 23rd for the Camping World 500 and that is much further back than in any of his recent attempts. He does not need the security of starting near the front, because Harvick is not a particularly strong qualifier and he is accustomed to racing in heavy traffic early. He picked up the pace in Saturday morning’s session, but then dropped back to 16th in Happy Hour. He might struggle to win, but he should be able to keep his top-10 streak alive.

Martin Truex Jr. had the quickest 10-lap average in the morning session, but he was not happy with his car. He qualified 16th and it is going to take some very long runs to get him into a challenging position. He seems to be much happier on unrestricted, intermediate speedways, so he should be saved until Auto Club Speedway next week.

The veterans had a measure of revenge in Happy Hour. Kyle Busch posted the quickest 10-lap average at 134.094 mph. He was followed by Jimmie Johnson’s 133.687, and Matt Kenseth’s 133.663. They will need the long-run speed because Busch is the highest-qualified of the trio in ninth. Johnson lines up 14th with Kenseth one row ahead of him in 12th. 

 

Start

Driver

Qual Speed

Practice 1
Rank

Practice 2
Rank

Final Practice

Rank

Avg.
Rank

             

1

Joey Logano

      137.321

3

2

1

1.8

4

Kyle Larson

      136.654

2

3

8

4.3

7

Chase Elliott

      136.152

1

1

13

5.5

9

Kyle Busch

      135.926

6

10

3

7.0

3

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      136.783

7

7

12

7.3

6

Brad Keselowski

      136.193

14

5

4

7.3

2

Ryan Blaney

      136.877

5

9

14

7.5

16

Martin Truex Jr.

      135.532

4

4

9

8.3

5

Jamie McMurray

      136.302

10

11

10

9.0

10

Kasey Kahne

      135.859

8

8

11

9.3

12

Matt Kenseth

      135.695

11

15

2

10.0

8

Erik Jones

      136.137

15

12

6

10.3

14

Jimmie Johnson

      135.624

9

20

5

12.0

23

Kevin Harvick

      134.469

13

6

16

14.5

13

Clint Bowyer

      135.731

24

14

7

14.5

19

Denny Hamlin

      135.166

12

13

17

15.3

11

Kurt Busch

      135.839

16

17

23

16.8

22

Ryan Newman

      134.821

17

16

15

17.5

21

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      134.973

18

23

20

20.5

24

Trevor Bayne

      134.394

27

19

18

22.0

15

Ty Dillon

      135.603

20

28

26

22.3

27

Daniel Suarez

      133.764

26

18

19

22.5

18

Paul Menard

      135.349

25

21

27

22.8

17

Austin Dillon

      135.405

22

31

22

23.0

20

AJ Allmendinger

      135.019

23

26

27

24.0

26

Danica Patrick

      133.789

21

25

25

24.3

28

Aric Almirola

      133.467

29

22

21

25.0

25

Michael McDowell

      133.889

19

29

31

26.0

29

Landon Cassill

      133.309

28

30

24

27.8

33

Chris Buescher

      133.013

30

24

30

29.3

30

Matt DiBenedetto

      133.195

32

27

32

30.3

34

David Ragan

      132.935

31

32

29

31.5

32

Cole Whitt

      133.033

36

33

34

33.8

31

Corey LaJoie

      133.062

35

36

35

34.3

35

Reed Sorenson

      132.052

34

35

33

34.3

36

Gray Gaulding

      131.488

33

34

36

34.8

37

Derrike Cope

      129.218

38

37

 

37.3

38

Jeffrey Earnhardt

      128.032

37

38

37

37.5

39

Timmy Hill

      126.596

 

39

38

38.7

 

10-Lap Averages

 

10-Lap Averages

 

Avg

Practice 2

 

Final Practice

 

Rank

                 

1

Martin Truex Jr.

      134.525

 

5

Martin Truex Jr.

  133.196

 

3.0

7

Kyle Busch

      133.740

 

1

Kyle Busch

  134.094

 

4.0

 

Brad Keselowski

 

 

4

Brad Keselowski

  133.562

 

4.0

3

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      134.398

 

7

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  132.985

 

5.0

2

Chase Elliott

      134.431

 

9

Chase Elliott

  132.913

 

5.5

10

Jimmie Johnson

      133.347

 

2

Jimmie Johnson

  133.687

 

6.0

9

Clint Bowyer

      133.498

 

6

Clint Bowyer

  133.100

 

7.5

 

Kasey Kahne

 

 

8

Kasey Kahne

  132.963

 

8.0

6

Jamie McMurray

      133.924

 

10

Jamie McMurray

  132.848

 

8.0

5

Denny Hamlin

      134.124

 

14

Denny Hamlin

  132.580

 

9.5

8

Erik Jones

      133.657

 

12

Erik Jones

  132.806

 

10.0

18

Matt Kenseth

      132.357

 

3

Matt Kenseth

  133.663

 

10.5

 

Ryan Blaney

 

 

11

Ryan Blaney

  132.843

 

11.0

4

Kyle Larson

      134.329

 

19

Kyle Larson

  132.439

 

11.5

 

Kevin Harvick

 

 

15

Kevin Harvick

  132.578

 

15.0

15

Daniel Suarez

      132.549

 

16

Daniel Suarez

  132.576

 

15.5

14

Ryan Newman

      132.604

 

17

Ryan Newman

  132.525

 

15.5

12

AJ Allmendinger

      132.745

 

23

AJ Allmendinger

  131.752

 

17.5

23

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      131.613

 

13

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  132.696

 

18.0

11

Paul Menard

      133.209

 

26

Paul Menard

  131.586

 

18.5

16

Danica Patrick

      132.446

 

22

Danica Patrick

  132.069

 

19.0

13

Ty Dillon

      132.656

 

25

Ty Dillon

  131.600

 

19.0

 

Joey Logano

 

 

20

Joey Logano

  132.410

 

20.0

 

Kurt Busch

 

 

21

Kurt Busch

  132.126

 

21.0

26

Trevor Bayne

      130.266

 

18

Trevor Bayne

  132.480

 

22.0

20

Landon Cassill

      132.066

 

24

Landon Cassill

  131.632

 

22.0

21

Austin Dillon

      132.043

 

27

Austin Dillon

  131.253

 

24.0

19

Matt DiBenedetto

      132.243

 

29

Matt DiBenedetto

  130.988

 

24.0

17

Michael McDowell

      132.361

 

31

Michael McDowell

  130.760

 

24.0

22

David Ragan

      131.704

 

28

David Ragan

  131.145

 

25.0

25

Reed Sorenson

      130.628

 

 

Reed Sorenson

 

 

25.0

27

Jeffrey Earnhardt

      128.147

 

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

 

27.0

24

Gray Gaulding

      130.693

 

32

Gray Gaulding

  129.243

 

28.0

 

Aric Almirola

 

 

30

Aric Almirola

  130.961

 

30.0

 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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