We’re exactly halfway through the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season and already some interesting statistical trends have emerged. Here are six trends worth taking note of as the summer nears.
Several drivers and teams have stepped up impressively so far in 2017. Last year, Clint Bowyer finished 27th in the final points standings. Through the first half of the 2017 regular season, he’s 10th, which is a huge leap forward.
The team with the biggest improvement is probably Chip Ganassi Racing. Last year, CGR’s Kyle Larson finished ninth in points and Jamie McMurray wound up 13th. Now, Larson is second and McMurray is fifth.
Michael Thomas ShroyerMichael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
In the manufacturers’ race, Chevrolet has 475 points to 459 for Ford and 444 for Toyota. In terms of race victories, Chevrolet has six wins, Ford five and Toyota two. In other words, the competition is still very much up for grabs.
But here’s where it gets interesting: Toyota has the fewest wins of the three, yet Toyotas have led a series-high 1,794 laps, to 1,431 for Ford and just 1,081 for Chevrolet.
The two biggest races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series so far this season are the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 by leading only the final lap; Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 by leading only the final two laps. It’s not how many laps you lead, it’s when you lead them that counts.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukNigel Kinrade
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Ryan Newman won in Phoenix leading just six laps and Jimmie Johnson won at Dover after leading only seven circuits. Just three times in the first 13 races of the season has the driver who led the most laps in a race won. This just goes to show how huge a role late-race cautions and restarts figure into who wins races. It’s no longer about having the best car, it’s about being in the right place at the right time.
Although the last few races have been rough for Team Penske, the squad’s two drivers have posted impressive numbers: Brad Keselowski has two victories and leads the series with seven top fives, while Joey Logano has one victory and six top fives. If they can turn around some of their recent misfortunes, they could be the team to beat down the stretch.
A total of 15 drivers have earned playoff points for winning races and or stages. Martin Truex Jr. has 18, Jimmie Johnson 15 and Brad Keselowski has 12. Next best is Kyle Larson with 7 playoff points. These will be huge this year because they will carry through the first nine races of the playoffs.