Crunching numbers: Fearless predictions

March, 8, 2011
03/08/11
11:11
AM ET

This is ridiculous, unheard of, an absolute travesty!

No, not the fact that the Sprint Cup/Nationwide series are taking a week off after just three weeks of action, nor is it because ESPN.com decided to give me my own blog (it's been like three years, accept that I'm here to stay).

No, it's that I've gone this far into the year and haven't made my fearless predictions yet!

• Dodge will go winless for the first time since returning to NASCAR. Yes, that means I think Kurt Busch will go winless for the first time since his rookie year.

• Paul Menard will reap the benefits of having RCR equipment and stick around the Chase picture, falling just short on his way to a 2012 Chase berth.

• Marcos Ambrose will get to Victory Lane in Cup, and Juan Pablo Montoya will finally win on an oval.

• The regular-season finale at Richmond will reach new levels of crazy as several drivers will be in "win and in" mode.

But, hey, there were some races last weekend. And America turns its weary eyes to me to provide statistical analysis … at least I think it does.

Flippin' out

In 2008, Carl Edwards won a series-high nine races, including the season finale. Then came a 70-race winless streak that coincided with the downslide of the Ford program as a whole.

Ever since, Edwards has been on a roll, winning the final two races of 2010, finishing second in the Daytona 500, having a bad break at Phoenix where he had the best car, and finally winning in Vegas on Sunday.

During that 70-race skid, Edwards led just 308 laps, 1.5 percent of the total laps run in that time. Over these past five races, Edwards has led 373 laps, over 27 percent of the total laps run.

Trivia break! Edwards now has 19 career Cup wins. Who is the only driver with exactly 20?

Heartbreak Hotel

Since we were in Vegas, somebody was bound to have a little bad luck.

Sunday, it was Tony Stewart, who finished a "disappointing" second despite dominating the race, leading 163 laps along the way. That's the second-most laps led in a Las Vegas race, behind Jeff Gordon's 219 last year.

The kicker is that no driver who has ever led more than 125 laps at Las Vegas has gone on to win.

Trivia break! What driver holds the record for laps led in a Vegas win?

Spanning the nation

I usually stick to Cup notes in this little blog, but let me go lightning round-style to sum up Saturday's Nationwide race:

• Mark Martin got his series-record 49th win, but just the third since March 2005. However, each of his past three wins have been at Las Vegas.

• Danica Patrick finished fourth, the best finish by a woman in Cup, Nationwide or Trucks.

• Reed Sorenson is atop the points. The kicker? He'd lead the points even if the Cup drivers were eligible for points.

Trivia break! Who was the last Nationwide Series-only driver to win the title?

Trivia break answers

1. Speedy Thompson won 20 races in his Cup career.

2. Matt Kenseth led 123 laps on his way to victory in 2004.

3. Martin Truex Jr. won the 2005 title without running a full Cup schedule.

Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.

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