Category archive: Greg Biffle

Here we are this weekend at Kentucky Speedway, a track where the key statistic coming into the race may be the number of parking spots added (PSA) since last year's debacle.

But let's stick to the quality of the racing, and not whether the parking was ample. Of course, it's hard to analyze the racing at a track where there's been one race. However, in that race, Kyle Busch was dominant, finishing with a 145.6 driver rating, the third-highest mark he has had in any of his 24 career Sprint Cup wins.

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Kyle Busch
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesKyle Busch celebrates after winning the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in July 2011.

But Busch goes into this race struggling in his past four races -- all finishes of 17th or worse -- as well as on 1.5-mile tracks like Kentucky, with two top-5s in his past nine races.

That's the best way to project what will happen at Kentucky -- to take a look at performance at those other 1.5-mile tracks. Those tracks are different, yes, but definitely have similarities.

Problem is, we've had four races on such tracks this year, with four drivers from four teams coming out victorious. There was Tony Stewart at Las Vegas, Greg Biffle at Texas, Denny Hamlin at Kansas and Kasey Kahne at Charlotte.

This is when you call on a guy like me to crunch the numbers.

One driver's performance does stand above the others, and that's Biffle's. He's the only driver with a top-5 in all four of those races. He also has put up three of the top eight marks in driver rating on 1.5-milers this season.

Want a sleeper? I'll give you a sleeper. Although he has been slipping down the points and his Sonoma finish was a disappointment, keep an eye on Martin Truex Jr., who has the highest individual driver rating on a 1.5-mile track this season, a 142.6 in a second-place finish at Kansas.

We've seen Joey Logano and some guy named Dale Earnhardt Jr. snap long winless streaks this season, but Truex could top both of their droughts at Kentucky.

Looking for Trouble

Every week, my fellow members in ESPN Stats & Information crunch the crash numbers and tell us what to watch for that weekend. Here's what they found.

If Kentucky is like any of the other 1.5-mile tracks, the middle of the pack is the wrong place to be. Since 2008, 182 of 506 accidents (36 percent) on intermediate tracks have occurred to drivers running in positions 15-25.

The Eliminator: Kentucky

For those of you new to my little blog, every week I use a device called The Eliminator to predict a winner. It's pretty simple: Instead of telling you somebody will win, I'll point out why everybody else has to lose. The driver remaining, by process of elimination, will be the race winner.

And if you want to see who was eliminated in each step, I'll post the info on my Twitter account (@MattWillisESPN).

Don't overlook that I nailed Clint Bowyer at Sonoma.

1. The past 21 Sprint Cup winners on 1.5-mile tracks had previously won a Sprint Cup race (16 eliminated, 30 remaining).

2. The past eight and 11 of the past 12 winners on 1.5-mile tracks had a top-20 finish in the previous 1.5-mile race (12 eliminated, 18 remaining).

3. Each of the past four winners this year finished 11th or better in the previous year's race (10 eliminated, eight remaining).

4. The past two Sprint Cup winners were coming off a stretch of three straight finishes of eighth or better (seven eliminated, one remaining).

Your winner: Jimmie Johnson

Crunching Numbers: Top Drivers May Struggle at Sonoma

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For those of you who know me (we're all just one big happy family in this blog circle), you'll know that I love variety. Which is why I'm glad NASCAR has at least a couple of road courses on the schedule.

I love seeing drivers tested, and the drivers who excel at this type of racing get to the front. I'm also fond of the pit strategy and different approaches that take place during the race.

If you know that about me, you might also know that, as a sports fan, I love me some mayhem.

Unless I have a strong rooting interest, I'm behind a series going to a seventh game, or I'll pull for the underdog. And if you like a turnover in the points, you might get it this weekend in Sonoma.

What do Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle all have in common? If you said they're the top three in the points, you've given me the simple, obvious answer. Try harder.

If you said they all struggle on road courses, now you're smelling what I'm cooking.

All three of those drivers are still looking for their first Cup Series road-course win, and all struggle, especially at Sonoma. Let's use driver ratings going back to 2005 to break this down.

(Driver rating is a formula encompassing many of NASCAR's loop data categories and mirrors the NFL's quarterback rating. Anything over 100 is very good, and it maxes out at 150.)

Well, Biffle's driver rating at Sonoma is a paltry 78.4, 18th-best in the series. But that's the best of the three. Kenseth is a 71.8 (ranking 24th) and Earnhardt's is a 65.4 (27th).

That's why this weekend at Sonoma, I expect some points shuffling, both up from those who excel on road courses, and down from those who aren't in their comfort zone.

Looking for Trouble

Every week, my fellow members in ESPN Stats & Information crunch the numbers and tell us what to watch for the following weekend. Here's what they found:

There are 12 turns at Sonoma, but it's one of the final ones that does the most damage. In last year's race, all three accidents occurred in Turn 11, the hairpin turn, involving 10 cars. Since 2004, Turn 11, along with Turn 8, have accounted for more than half the accidents at Sonoma.

And, for a little more analysis, I went to my main man Ricky Craven, "NASCAR Now" analyst and all-around nice guy. He explained that Turn 11 is dangerous because drivers lock up their brakes in the hairpin. And Turn 8 is a danger zone because drivers don't complete their passes in Turn 7.

The Eliminator: Sonoma

For those of you new to my little blog, every week I use a device called The Eliminator to predict a winner.

It's pretty simple: Instead of telling you somebody will win, I'll point out why everybody else has to lose. The driver remaining, by process of elimination, will be the race winner.

And if you want to see who was eliminated in each step, I'll post the info on my Twitter account (@MattWillisESPN).

1. There has been only one first-time winner in 23 Sonoma races all-time (15 drivers eliminated, 29 remaining).

2. Since 1987, every road-course winner had a top-5 finish earlier that season (11 eliminated, 18 remaining).

3. Of the past 14 Sonoma winners, the 13 who previously had raced at Watkins Glen finished in the top 14 in the last race there (seven eliminated, 11 remaining).

4. The past five Sonoma winners had never won a Sprint Cup Series road-course race (four eliminated, seven remaining).

5. Three of the past four race winners this season finished in the top eight in the previous Sprint Cup race (five eliminated, two remaining).

6. Of the past 13 Sonoma race winners, 12 entered the race fifth or lower in points (one eliminated, one remaining).

Your winner: Clint Bowyer

Greetings to all my NASCAR stat-loving, knowledge-seeking friends. You know who you are.

Today, let's talk a little Michigan, since that's the next race on the schedule and all. It's a repaved Michigan, which means speeds on an already-fast track are going to be up. And Pocono was pretty pacey last week with its fresh asphalt.

In this race, if the numbers are any indication (they usually are), I like a little combination I call Three Men and Five-Time at the front: Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.

Since 2005, when Edwards became a full-time Cup driver, those four drivers are atop just about every loop-data category at Michigan International Speedway. They're the only four with a driver rating over 100, they rank 1-4 in fastest laps, average running position, and speed both early and late in runs (not to mention overall green-flag speed).

But let's take a look at those results. Let's say, in theory, that anything outside the top 15 is a "subpar" finish, especially for those four. In those 14 races since 2005, Kenseth and Edwards each have a pair of subpar finishes, while Biffle and Johnson have six apiece.

Those stats can be backed up by looking at the green-flag pass differential for those four drivers. Edwards is plus-261 and Kenseth plus-159, while Biffle is just a plus-38 and Johnson is a minus-36.

And what makes that even more damaging is that the bulk of Biffle's and Johnson's losses have taken place at the end of the race. In the final 10 percent of races since 2005, Johnson is minus-71 in pass differential, while Biffle is a minus-64, by far the worst two totals. The third-worst mark is a minus-33.

So Biffle and Johnson might join the other two Roush Fenway Racing drivers up front Sunday at Michigan, but let's see if they stay there.

The Eliminator: Michigan

For those of you new to my little blog, every week I use a device called The Eliminator to predict a winner.

It's pretty simple: Instead of telling you somebody will win, I'll point out why everybody else has to lose. The driver remaining, by process of elimination, will be the race winner.

And if you want to see who was eliminated in each step, I'll post the info on my Twitter account (@MattWillisESPN).

1. Eighty-three of the past 84 Michigan winners had a previous top-5 finish at the track (22 eliminated, 23 remaining).

2. The past eight Michigan winners had a top-20 finish in the previous Michigan race (eight eliminated, 15 remaining).

3. Nine of the past 10 spring Michigan race winners finished eighth or better in the most recent Darlington race (nine eliminated, six remaining).

4. Each of the past seven Michigan winners finished 19th or better in each of the previous three Sprint Cup Series races (four eliminated, two remaining).

5. Four of the past five spring Michigan race winners had a top-5 finish in the previous year's spring Michigan race (one eliminated, one remaining).

Your winner: Matt Kenseth

Kasey Kahne's tenure with Hendrick Motorsports was, let's say, less than ideal over the first six races.

Although he won a pair of poles, he also had just a pair of lead-lap finishes and also a pair of DNFs. Six races in, no finishes better than 14th and a 31st-place spot in the points.

But something clicked, and since then Kahne hasn't finished worse than eighth, giving him the second-highest points total in that six-race span, behind Kyle Busch.

The highlight, of course, was Sunday's win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as Kahne became the 16th different driver to win for Hendrick Motorsports and just the second driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win in his 300th career start, joining Rusty Wallace, who got a well-deserved call to the Hall of Fame last week.

Charlotte seemed like a very likely place for Kahne to get back to Victory Lane, as four of his 13 career wins have come there.

Kahne has won everywhere he's gone, as this is the fourth team with which he's won a Cup race. Which brings me to ...

Trivia break! Who is the only other active full-time Cup driver who has won with at least four different teams?

Coming up short

On Monday's "NASCAR Now," Ricky Craven made the point that it seems like every year in the Coca-Cola 600 there's a driver who's the class of the field early but can't adjust to the cooler track conditions at night.

This year, that driver was Greg Biffle, who led more than half the laps, 204, but finished fourth.

That's the fifth-most laps a driver has led in the 600 without a victory, and the second most in the past 40 years, behind only Jimmie Johnson's 263 in 2002.

But Biffle kept up the consistency that's put him atop the points. He has a 7.2 average finish this season. If he keeps that up for the year, it will be the best mark since Dale Jarrett had a 6.8 mark in his 1999 championship season.

Trivia break! Who holds the modern-era (since '72) record for the best average finish in a season among full-time drivers?

Where's the drama?

The continuing theme of the season is the fans' complaints that the racing has been somewhat dull. Whether or not you enjoy the long green-flag stretches, the stats say that late-race drama is down from last year, even though last year is tough to top.

Take these facts into consideration:

• There have been three races this season with margins of victory of more than three seconds. There were two such races all of last season.

• There's only been one race with a lead change in the final 10 laps this season. Fifteen of 36 races last season had a lead change in the final 10 laps.

• Four of the 12 race winners this season led at least the final 40 laps. Only four of the 36 winners last season led at least the final 40 laps.

Trivia break! We haven't had a last-lap pass yet this season. But which driver has won three of the past six races featuring a last-lap pass?

Trivia break answers

1. Joe Nemechek also has won races with four different teams (all four of his wins).

2. Cale Yarborough had a 4.5 mark in 1977.

3. Kevin Harvick has won three of the past six decided by a last-lap pass.

Welcome to Tuesday. It's been a while since I've had a race to react off of, so I'd better make this good.

Unfortunately, the talk of the track coming off this weekend seems to be unhappiness with the racing. NASCAR is at a stark disadvantage compared to other major sports in that when the race isn't a classic, there's no other race to flip to.

Yeah, there wasn't a ton of slamming and amazing maneuvering Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, but race fans can appreciate the stamina showed by running high speeds for long green-flag stretches, and the ability it takes to get on and off pit road under green.

The man who did that better than the rest was Greg Biffle, who snapped a 49-race winless streak with the victory. And he kept up his incredible run this year, lowering his average finish to a tidy 6.0.

I know it's early, but no driver has run a full season and had an average finish that good since Jeff Gordon in his legendary 1998 season, when he had a 5.7. Before that, it was Dale Earnhardt in 1987.

Trivia break! Biffle's trying to be the first driver to win a Cup, Nationwide and Truck title. Who are the two other drivers to win two of the three?

Johnson and the Hendrick bunch

Jimmie Johnson finished second at Texas, the fourth time he's done that in the past five spring Texas races. But it was his most impressive effort.

Johnson had a 131.5 driver rating, his best mark there since NASCAR started tracking loop data for the 2005 season. It was better than any of those other runner-up efforts or his win.

Despite not picking up win No. 200, Hendrick Motorsports did put all four of its cars in the top 10 for the first time in over a year. But Hendrick is now winless in 13 straight Cup races for the first time since 2002-03.

Trivia break! How many races did it take for Rick Hendrick to pick up its first win?

Can-do Kahne

The weekend was pretty kind to Kasey Kahne.

First, a seventh-place finish in the Cup race, his first of the year. Then, a win from the rear of the field in Sunday's Camping World Truck Series race in NASCAR's return to Rockingham, Kahne's fourth win in five career Truck starts.

His Truck series win percentage of 80.0 is the best all time in any of the three NASCAR National Touring Series among drivers who have made at least five starts.

And it's by a very wide margin. The next best in the Truck series is Tony Stewart, who has won two of six races (33.3 percent). In Cup, it's road course specialist Dan Gurney, who won five of 16 starts (31.3 percent). In Nationwide, it's Sam Ard with 22 wins in 92 starts for a 23.9 percent mark.

Trivia break! Kahne finished second in the final Cup race at Rockingham. Who won the race?

Trivia break answers

1. Bobby Labonte won a Cup and Nationwide title. Johnny Benson won a Nationwide and Truck series title.

2. Hendrick needed only eight races to pick up win No. 1.

3. Matt Kenseth beat Kahne by .01 seconds in the last Cup race at Rockingham.

A week after Darian Grubb proved he could win without Tony Stewart, Tony Stewart proved he could win without Darian Grubb. Classic fairy-tale ending.

But let's get away from the romanticized tales of vindication and betrayal, and start talking some numbers. And today's number is 14.

No, that's not because it's Tony Stewart's car number, give me some credit now. This was the 14th season in a row in which Tony Stewart has won a Cup race, making him just the eighth driver to do so, joining Richard Petty, David Pearson, Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon.

What else makes it impressive is that, other than this season, Stewart's only finished one year with just a single win during that streak. Among the other seven drivers, only Petty and Gordon had one or fewer single-win seasons during their streaks.

Trivia break: With his 45th career Cup win, Stewart moved into sole possession of 15th all-time. Who was he tied with?

None Shall Pass

Last year at Las Vegas, Stewart was dominant, leading 163 laps. But he came up short, finishing second to Carl Edwards.

This year, he didn't lead as many laps, but his average position on the track was two-and-a-half spots better. Plus, he was only passed nine times under green flag, compared to 71 last year.

That marks the fewest times a driver has been passed under green in a Cup win since Jimmie Johnson was only passed six times when he won at Phoenix in November 2009.

Trivia break: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made it three-for-three for non-Cup regulars in the Nationwide Series this weekend. When was the last time the first three Nationwide races were won by non-Cup drivers?

Third Time's The Charm

A little way behind Stewart, Greg Biffle was finishing third for the third time in three races this season. The rule of threes is in strong effect here.

The last time a driver started a season with three straight top-three finishes came in 2006, when Jimmie Johnson did it on his way to a title.

However, dating back to 1980, four other drivers besides Biffle and Johnson have done it, and none of them went on to win a title.

Trivia break: Who was the last driver to start a season with four straight top-three finishes?

Trivia Break Answers

1. Stewart broke a tie with Bill Elliott.
2. In 1995, Chad Little won the first two, and Kenny Wallace the third race.
3. Earnhardt had four straight top-threes to start the 1989 season.

With the news that Jimmie Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, was suspended six races, not to mention a serious hit to the wallet and a points reduction that leaves you and I with more points than Johnson entering the weekend, it begs the question how it'll affect Johnson's on-track performance.

Luckily we do have some history of Johnson's performance without Knaus on the box, although Knaus is still active in the shop.

In 2006 and 2007, Knaus was suspended by NASCAR for rules violations. In 2006, Johnson spent the first four races with Darian Grubb as his crew chief and won two of those.

In those four races, Johnson had a 2.5 average finish and an average driver rating of 114.1. In the final 32 races with Knaus, Johnson's numbers weren't quite as good, with a 10.6 average finish and 100.4 driver rating.

Johnson also won "only" three of the 32 races that season with Knaus as his crew chief.

In 2007, Knaus was suspended due to rules violations found at Sonoma, and Johnson struggled more with Ron Malec as his crew chief, with a 21 average finish and 99.3 driver rating.

However, you can't point the finger at Malec for that performance, as Johnson wrecked out of two of the four races, and he had led 82 laps at Chicago before wrecking out and finishing 37th. In the races Johnson finished with Malec as crew chief, he had an average finish of fourth.

There might not be a better site than Phoenix for Johnson to start his time without Knaus. Johnson has won four times at Phoenix while no other driver in Sprint Cup Series history has won there more than twice. Johnson's average finish of 5.4 trails only Alan Kulwicki's 5.2 mark in track history.

But Johnson is coming off his worst career race at Phoenix.

Going into November's Chase race at Phoenix, Johnson had a 121.8 driver rating at the track (since NASCAR began track loop data in 2005) and a 5.4 average running position.

But in that race, Johnson put up a Phoenix career-low 71.5 driver rating and an 18.9 ARP. He also ran the fastest lap once in the race's 312 laps, after running the fastest lap in 10.5 percent of laps in the previous 13 races there.

The Eliminator: Phoenix

For those of you new to my little blog, every week I use a device called The Eliminator to make my race pick. It's pretty simple; instead of telling you why one guy will win, I'll point out why everybody else has to lose. The driver remaining, by process of elimination, is the race winner.

1. There hasn't been a first-time winner at Phoenix since 1996 (13 drivers eliminated, 31 remaining).

2. The past 12 Phoenix winners had a previous top-5 at the track (nine eliminated, 22 remaining).

3. The past four Phoenix winners didn't win a race in the previous season (12 eliminated, 10 remaining).

4. Of the past 11 Phoenix winners, 10 had a top-14 finish in the previous Phoenix race (seven eliminated, three remaining).

5. Six of the seven spring Phoenix race winners finished in the top 10 in the last New Hampshire race, and the seventh didn't run the previous New Hampshire race (two eliminated, one remaining).

Your winner: Greg Biffle.

Last week, I told you not to get caught up in Jimmie Johnson's overall numbers at Charlotte -- which were excellent on the surface -- and instead to focus on his recent numbers there, which were far inferior.

A mediocre evening followed by a blown engine, and all of a sudden I look kind of brilliant.

A modest statement? Not really. But I don't have a PR person yet, so I have to do the dirty work myself. Um, I'm also handsome.

This week, I'm going to encourage you to get back on the Jimmie Johnson bandwagon, despite the fact that the entire team doesn't look to be in championship form right now.

Johnson has shown a lot of raw speed at Kansas going to 2005, as far back as we have loop data for. His overall speed, speed early and late in runs and speed in traffic are all tops in the field.

Yet he has only one win there, and his actual race results are a step behind another driver who had a rough evening at Charlotte.

I'm talking about The Biff. And it's like I always say, everybody loves the Biff … especially at Kansas.

Greg Biffle's results at Kansas have traditionally one-upped Johnson's, which gives the edge to The Biff in a couple key categories, average position and driver rating.

The average position is important because the best way to avoid incidents is to stay up front and out of traffic … unless your name is J.R. Hildebrand (sorry, J.R.!).

In six of the last seven years, Biffle's finish at Kansas was better than Johnson's. The only exception was in 2008, when Johnson won, but Biffle still finished a respectable third.

But, rest assured, these two drivers have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Since 2005, look at that chart!

So, two different drivers and teams, but a common domination at Kansas.

The Eliminator: Charlotte

Most people just pick winners, some by hunches, some by stats, some by just picking a name off the top of their head.

I don't pick winners, I pick losers. I'll make my race pick by telling you why all but one driver in the field just can't win.

1) Every Kansas winner has had at least three career wins entering the race. (25 drivers eliminated, 20 remaining).
2) The last seven Kansas winners finished 19th or better in the last Kansas and California races (10 eliminated, 10 remaining).
3) The last five Kansas winners finished in the top 10 in the last Texas races (four eliminated, six remaining).
4) The last six Kansas winners finished 19th or worse in the last Charlotte race (five eliminated, one remaining)

Your winner: Jimmie Johnson

If you're looking to my little corner of the Internet for some fantasy advice on this week's Dover race, you're in luck.

Regular readers of this here blog know I'm a big fan of Dover racing, and irregular readers of this blog now know, too. So, I'll give you a team I like, and a driver I love, for Sunday's monstrous race.

I like Roush Fenway Racing, and why wouldn't I? RFR is the class of the field right now, already getting wins from two of its four drivers, and another win from an affiliated team in the Wood Brothers.

Among the non-winners, Greg Biffle has three top-10s and a 15th in his past four races, moving him from 20th to 12th in the standings. David Ragan is having a redemption year, with his first top-5 since 2008 and already as many top-10s as all of last year.

But I like them even more at Dover. In the fall 2008 race, Roush finished 1-2-3, the only time it's been done at Dover, and it wouldn't shock me to see them do it again.

Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards are all among the top five here since 2005 in average running position (Biffle first, Kenseth second), fastest laps runs (Edwards first) and driver rating (all in top four).

And in every conceivable speed rank, none of those three are worse than seventh in any situation.

But I love Jimmie Johnson.

While those Roush Fenway boys are top seven in every speed situation, Johnson is the top one. He's the fastest driver at Dover since 2005 in overall speed, speed early in runs, speed late in runs, speed in traffic and speed on restarts. I miss anything?

He's only getting better, having won three of the past four Dover races with an average driver rating of 142.9 (150 is perfect, and he did that in 2009). He's averaged 106.8 fastest laps (out of a total of 400) in those races.

In the previous six races there, Johnson averaged a 95.8 driver rating and 16.2 fastest laps per race. Good numbers, but the other ones are staggering.

The Eliminator: Dover Edition

Most people just pick winners -- some by hunches, some by stats, some by just picking names off the top of their heads.

I don't pick winners; I pick losers. I'll make my race pick by telling you why all but one driver in the field just can't win.

And if you haven't been sold, consider my last four picks have finished first, sixth, first and second. Yeah, I'm winning my fantasy league.

1. Eleven of the past 12 Dover winners finished 16th or better in the previous Sprint Cup Series race (28 eliminated, 16 remaining).

2. The past nine winners this season finished 17th or better in the most recent race at that track (nine eliminated, seven remaining).

3. The past seven Dover winners finished 12th or better in the most recent Phoenix race (two eliminated, five remaining).

4. Five of the past six Dover winners finished in the top five in the previous New Hampshire race (four eliminated, one remaining).

5. Your winner: Denny Hamlin.

Stats!

Oh yes, after what seemed to be a fairly uneventful Kansas race that resulted in Greg Biffle getting yet another Chase win (don't sleep on the Biff), and Jimmie Johnson taking over the Chase lead (stop me if you've heard this one before), I find myself sitting knee deep in stats. And you know I love my stats.

So many stats that I can't wait for my normal three-tiered approach to giving my favorite research nuggets of the weekend, while I fill this above area with the ridiculousness that I enjoy writing, and I can only imagine my readers barely tolerate. Things like how excited I am for the new NASCAR video game that was announced last week. My dorky senses are tingling.

And I do have things to say, like how this is statistically the closest Chase ever through three races. It's just an eight-point lead for Johnson over Denny Hamlin, enough that if Hamlin were to finish second and Johnson fourth this weekend, the points lead would be traded again.

Furthermore, there are 85 points separating Johnson from eighth-place Biffle, with several drivers who could make a run in between. That 85-point spread from first to eighth is the closest in the seven years of the Chase, and the only time that margin has been under 110 points. Remember that in 2006, Johnson was 165 points back of the leader in eighth, and went on to win the title.

On the flip side, 2006 was the only time the eventual Chase winner wasn't first or second in the points after three races. Four times they were the leader, and last year Johnson was second, a mere pittance behind Mark Martin.

That's enough of this though, let's move on to the official statistics section.

There's No Place Like Kansas

I don't think there's a driver in the series who is more looking forward to Kansas getting a second race than the man affectionately referred to as "The Biff." With Sunday's win at Kansas, Greg Biffle improved his average there in the Chase era (starting in 2004) to 3.6, including two wins in that seven-race span.

Also not to be ignored is that was Biffle's seventh career Chase race win, only Jimmie Johnson has more. And Biffle's been good in the Chase regardless of whether or not he was good during the first 26 races. Three of those seven wins came as a non-Chase driver, tied for the most Chase wins by a non-Chase driver.

Trivia break: In Biffle's 2007 Kansas win, who finished second, but crossed the finish line first?

Welcome To Johnsonville

You could argue that Johnsonville is the spot atop the Chase standings, and the population is currently 48. Hey, that was one of my better opening lines.

In the Chase era, in regular season and Chase races alike, Johnson has now led the points after 77 races, nearly twice as many as any other driver. This calls for a chart!

Yeah, that's quite a spread, now let's see if he can hold off all his challengers.

Trivia break: Going back to 2002, the top four in weeks leading the points are Johnson, Kenseth, Gordon and Stewart, all former or future champs. Who is fifth with 25 weeks leading?

Not Without Drama

So much for the non-Chase drivers handling the Chasers with kid gloves. David Reutimann put an end to the talk of the Chasers and non-Chasers being in two different races simultaneously.

No matter how you feel about Kyle Busch, or David Reutimann's timing in taking revenge on a driver who was likely on his way to a good finish, the impact of Reutimann's hit sent Busch stumbling backwards, and he could not fully recover.

With some help from Andrew Davis of the ESPN Stats & Analysis team, we found out that before Reutimann's hit, Busch averaged a 32.8-second lap. After, 33.1 seconds. That might not seem like much, but you're losing a second about every three laps. And Busch never climbed back into the top 10 after the impact, after spending about 62 percent of the laps before in the top 10.

Trivia break: Who are the three non-Chase drivers to win a Chase race at Kansas?

Trivia Break Answers

1) Clint Bowyer was second at Kansas, but crossed the finish line first as Biffle was running low on gas.

2) Sterling Marlin led the points for 25 weeks in 2002, but missed the end of the season with a neck injury, suffered in a wreck at Kansas.

3) Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart and Joe Nemechek all won at Kansas as non-Chase drivers.