Which Pre-Seeds Matter Most?
By David Smith (on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA)
September 13, 2012
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How well does the 26-race “regular season” in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series predict the eventual Chase result? Below is a chart depicting the point standing positions of Chasers prior to seeding, comparing them with their eventual Chase finish.
Points Position Before Re-Seeding vs. Eventual Chase Result
* - Vertical axis represents point standing position following Race 26, before re-seeding for Chase; horizontal axis represents the eventual Chase result
Items to Note:
- One would think that the first-place driver prior to Chase seeding would be the most logical choice for the championship; however, the second-place driver has the best average finish — a 3.75, over a whole position better than the 4.87 that the first-place drivers have earned. Jimmie Johnson is the only second-place driver to go on to win the Chase, doing so in 2006. Tony Stewart was the lone champ to emerge from a first-place pre-seed position.
- So who was the second-place driver prior to seeding this year? That’d be fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. History is on your side, Junior Nation!
- The only driver to ever be in first-place prior to Chase seeding, then finish last in the Chase is Kyle Busch, who did it last year.
- I have always theorized that the last man in typically becomes the first man out when it comes to playoff scenarios. In NASCAR’s Chase, that is almost accurate. The 11th-place driver prior to Chase seeding has the worst eventual Chase finish of 8.8. The last man — 12th-place — averages an 8.4 finish. It should be noted that the 11th and 12th spots were added in 2007 so positions 1 through 10 have three more race’s worth of data.
- 11th and 12th being the weakest link in the Chase is now even more logical as these were officially made “wildcard” positions last year. These drivers made the Chase based on number of wins — or in other words, one or two really good days — instead of a season’s worth of consistently good driving.
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More on MotorsportsAnalytics.com:
Best Chase Runs (Statistically Speaking) (Complimentary)
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David Smith is the Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Analytics and the host of The David Smith Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.