J.J. Yeley made top dollar at Kansas

10/12/2011 - NASCAR

Take a wild guess which driver made the most money per lap completed in the Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. If you guessed winner Jimmie Johnson, you're not even close.

The winner in this case is start-and-parker J.J. Yeley. He made $78,907, which works out to $6,575.58 per lap for finishing last and completing 12 laps.

By comparison, Johnson made a paltry $1,218.15 per lap for winning the event, completing all 272 laps (including five overtime laps) to claim a winner's share of $331,336.

But that wasn't anywhere near the lowest amount earned per lap completed. Scott Speed made only $306.58 per lap for finishing 33rd and collecting $81,550 in 266 laps of work.

The race took about three hours to complete, which means Johnson made $110,445.33 per hour. Not bad, but not up with Yeley. He worked about seven minutes, give or take a few seconds. That means his hourly wage was more than $680,000.

Good work if you can get it.

At least he's trying

Everyone knows Carl Edwards has the most points in the standings, leading the Chase by one point over Kevin Harvick. But do you know who has the fewest points among the drivers who have started all 30 Cup events?

It's David Gilliland, 30th in the standings with 494 points. Here's the amazing part: Gilliland has only five DNFs this season. He's out there in inferior equipment, but he's trying to run the entire race. I applaud him for it.

Joe Nemechek would've earned the fewest points, but he doesn't earn Cup points since he declared he was running for the Nationwide title at the start of the season.

Nemechek has 29 DNFs in his 30 starts. He has finished 40th or worse in 21 races, just hoping to hang on and find sponsorship at some point so he can actually race.

Nemechek has fared better in the Nationwide Series, ranking 14th in the standings with nine finishes in the top 15. And he did it in only 26 starts of the 30 races. Only 15 drivers have started all 30 Nationwide events.

The stretch run

Edwards said the first few weeks of the Chase have been draining (eight drivers are within 20 points of the top spot he occupies), and he doesn't expect it to change.

"We've run four races and it feels like 400," he said after the Kansas race. "There is still so much racing left. A lot can happen in six races. I have a feeling there will be moments that define this championship, all the way down to the last lap at Homestead. It can change in a heartbeat. You have to be on your game."

Quality vs. quantity

Kevin Harvick doesn't think it will hurt Richard Childress Racing one bit if RCR drops back to three Cup teams in 2012.

"It will probably make our teams better," Harvick said at Kansas. "If we only have three teams, there are more 'A" people to move around the shop. Some of those 'C' people will get shuffled out.

"You take the best of all the people and you put them in positions that need to be filled. We've made Chases and raced for championships with three teams before."

One of those "A" people left to join Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing. Scott Miller left his position as director of competition at RCR last month to take a similar role at MWR. A couple of body-hangers at RCR also are going to Waltrip's operation.

But Harvick said RCR will have about the same number of people overall because his Nationwide operation, when he shuts down Kevin Harvick Inc. at the end of the year, is moving to the Childress shop.

No quit in Red Bull

Kasey Kahne's second-place showing at Kansas made his average finish in the four Chase races 8.25. It would be tied for the fourth-best average finish (with Jimmie Johnson) among the Chasers if Kahne was in the Chase.

It tells us two things. One, Kahne is going to be a man to watch next season when he gets to Hendrick Motorsports. Two, the Red Bull team is not quitting.

"The biggest thing to me is to leave on a good note," Kahne said at Kansas after the race. "There's a lot of people [at Red Bull] working really hard even though they are unsure about their future and where they will be next year. They still are putting everything they have into these race cars every week."

Tweaking Talladega

Ryan Newman has a prediction about how the recent rules changes -- a larger restrictor plate and cooling system adjustment -- will affect the pairs drafting at Talladega on Oct. 23.

"The difference is we won't be doing that type of racing in the middle of the race," Newman said Friday at Kansas. "We will just sit there and ride. It they want us to not push each other until the end, it turns it into a single-file freight train that nobody likes."

Newman may want to revise his opinion. His comments came two days before Talladega officials announced plans to offer a $100,000 bonus to the driver who earns the most lead changes in the event if the field reaches 100 lead changes overall.

So I don't see much single-file racing, but I do see some dangerous up-front passing on the way.

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His book, "The Blount Report: NASCAR's Most Overrated and Underrated Drivers, Cars, Teams, and Tracks," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy. Blount can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.