Crunching numbers from New Hampshire

June, 30, 2009

Working on "NASCAR Now" for the Monday roundtable, our poll question dealt with what you thought of Joey Logano's first career Sprint Cup win.

The choices:

• A great strategic call by Zippy
• A win is a win is a win (doesn't matter how you get it)
• Tainted and a total fluke

Want my thoughts? I'm going to give them to you anyway.

Every part of that 20 team was working in perfect harmony to get that team into Victory Lane. The crew got that car repaired after a blown tire and spin, not to mention packed it full of fuel on the final pit stop. Greg Zipadelli figured the fuel mileage and made the call.

Joey Logano conserved fuel and kept a car that had to be handling poorly after an earlier incident out of trouble and as the first car a lap down so he could easily get back on the lead lap. Not to mention that he managed to stretch the fuel, while Ryan Newman, who pitted for fuel at the same time, ran out a few laps before.

And the paint scheme? Couldn't have been oranger.

Let's not forget that other notable drivers had some first career wins that could also be described as fluky. One that comes to mind is when Greg Biffle won the July race at Daytona on fuel mileage.

Youth was served

As everyone knows by now, Logano became the youngest winner in NASCAR Cup series history. And in the 60-plus-year history of the series, he's the only teenager to take the checkered flag. I don't think he's stopped smiling yet.

Don't forget that Logano, or Sliced Bread, is also the youngest winner in the history of the Nationwide Series, and he still has time to be the youngest winner in the Truck series.

I've got my 26th birthday next week, and Logano is making me feel old. But a quick glance in the mirror reassures me that I don't have any gray hair. Life is good.

The youngest drivers to get their first wins in Cup history:

Driver: Age (years-days)
Joey Logano: 19-35
Kyle Busch: 20-125
Donald Thomas: 20-129
Fireball Roberts: 21-205
Bobby Hillin Jr.: 22-52
Richard Petty: 22-241
Jeff Gordon: 22-298

While Thomas and Hillin never won another race, the rest of this list is quite impressive. You've got multitime champs in Petty and Gordon. Roberts won 33 races in his career, and Kyle Busch? Well, we all know Kyle Busch.

Trivia break! We know Logano is the youngest winner in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. Who's the youngest winner in the Truck series?

First time for everything

Logano joined Brad Keselowski and David Reutimann as drivers who picked up their first wins this season; this after a year in which no driver got his first career win.

That makes me look like an idiot, since before the season I predicted David Ragan would be the next first-timer to win a race, but he could still be the fourth. At least I said there would be a first-time winner this season.

However, my much-criticized prediction that Kevin Harvick would not make the Chase is looking pretty good right now. He's 27th in points. My prediction that Juan Pablo Montoya would win on a non-oval is still pending.

How many more first-time winners will we see? Well, four or five wouldn't be unprecedented. The last time there were four first-time winners was in 2007, and there were five in 2002.

What's even more impressive is that Logano, Reutimann and Keselowski all won their first races in 75 or fewer starts.

Trivia break! The three first-time winners this season have all come in a nine-race stretch. When was the last time we had three first-timers in that short a stretch?

Fantastic Four

At about the midway point in Sunday's race, if you'd had me fill out a list of guys I thought could win, it would have been four deep.

In alphabetical order: Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.

If you asked me for my next four, I would have just said "Return to the previous list."

Those four led over 82 percent of the total laps and ran as the top four for a third of the race, especially on the long green-flag runs. Take a look at their driver rating and remember that anything over 100 is a good race and a perfect rating is 150. Logano had a driver rating of 84.8, good for 12th.

Sunday's best driver ratings:

Jeff Gordon: 130.9
Jimmie Johnson: 125.0
Kurt Busch: 123.2
Tony Stewart: 117.5
Kyle Busch: 108.4

At the end of the day, however, it's Logano who gets the big check, the trophy and the winner's share of the points.

Trivial break! Who is the only other driver to get his first career Cup win in a rain-shortened race at New Hampshire?

Trivia break answers

1. Kyle Busch, at 20 years, 18 days, is the youngest Truck series winner.

2. In 2007, Casey Mears, Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya got their first career wins in a five-race stretch.

3. Ryan Newman, in 2002, also got his first career win in a rain-shortened New Hampshire race.



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