Some NASCAR odds and ends

September, 28, 2010

Here are four stats that may or may not surprise you, along with a note about the Chase after two races:

1) Bobby Labonte has the fewest points of the 31 drivers who have started all 28 events. He is one of only three drivers who have started every race this season without posting a top 10.

One of the other two is Regan Smith. No shock there. But the third one? It's Brad Keselowski, who was headed for a top 10 in the March race at Atlanta before Carl Edwards had his way and sent Brad's car flying through the air.

2) The driver who has earned the most money this season is not in the Chase. Jamie McMurray has earned $5,749,130 in 2010, including big paydays for winning the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Jimmie Johnson is second at $5,746,660. He's one of four other drivers who have topped $5 million in 2010 Cup earnings, including Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch.

McMurray won't stay on top, but it shows how sometimes it isn't how many races you win, but which races you win.

3) Possibly the best return on investment this season (the least amount of work for the most cash) is start-and-parker Dave Blaney.

He has failed to finish in 17 of 21 starts, posting a finish of 40th or worse 16 times. But Blaney has earned $1,666,380 (note the prophetic 666 in the middle here) this season, or $79,351 per start. And he raced less than 50 laps in 15 of those starts.

4)With Kyle Busch earning his record-setting 11th Nationwide victory Saturday at Dover, full-time Cup drivers have won 26 of 28 Nationwide events this season.

Justin Allgaier is the only full-time Nationwide-only driver to win in 2010. Boris Said won the road race at Montreal.

Full-time Cup drivers rank in five of the top six spots in the Nationwide standings. Allgaier, who will be the true Nationwide champ in my book, ranks fourth.

For all of you against an elimination process for the Chase, I have some news. You already have one.

Realistically speaking, the Chase is down to 8-with-8 -- eight drivers still in contention with eight races to go. Four drivers managed to eliminate themselves (one with NASCAR's help) after two races.

Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer are too far down now (all at least 140 points behind or more) to have any decent chance of coming back to win it.

It would be a nine-man Chase now if Bowyer had back those 150 points that 60-thousandths of an inch cost him at New Hampshire. He would be 85 points behind Denny Hamlin instead of 235 points back.

But the Sprint Cup playoff still has eight drivers within 83 points of the leader. Only four drivers were that close after two Chase races last year.

In case you're wondering, Harvick would have a 208-point lead over Kyle Busch if the Chase didn't exist. Jeff Gordon would be third, 218 points behind and the only other driver within 250 points of Harvick.

In other words, the championship would be Harvick's barring a monumental collapse, so he could play it safe the rest of the way to win the title.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?