Early Rankings: Sonoma, 2013

Here are my early driver rankings for this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma. I compiled them by crunching:

  • The loop data for the past 15 Sprint Cup races (excluding Daytona and Talladega);
  • the loop data for the past four races at Sonoma;
  • the loop data for the past four races at Watkins Glen;
  • the practice and qualifying data for the past four races at Sonoma; and
  • the practice and qualifying data for past four races at Watkins Glen.

The results:

  1. Marcos Ambrose
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Juan Pablo Montoya
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Kasey Kahne
  8. Martin Truex, Jr.
  9. Jeff Gordon
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Denny Hamlin
  13. Ryan Newman
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Carl Edwards
  16. Jamie McMurray
  17. Brian Vickers
  18. Joey Logano
  19. Brad Keselowski
  20. Matt Kenseth
  21. Paul Menard
  22. Jeff Burton
  23. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  24. Casey Mears
  25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  26. Bobby Labonte
  27. Boris Said
  28. David Ragan
  29. David Gilliland
  30. Danica Patrick
  31. Jacques Villeneuve
  32. Ron Fellows
  33. Alex Kennedy
  34. Justin Marks
  35. Paulie Harrake (i)
  36. Victor Gonzalez Jr.
  37. Aric Almirola
  38. David Reutimann
  39. David Stremme
  40. Joe Nemechek
  41. J.J. Yeley
  42. Travis Kvapil
  43. Josh Wise

2 thoughts on “Early Rankings: Sonoma, 2013

  1. Erik Allen

    Very cool! It seems to me that you are using a slightly different weighting for road course races than other types of race, which makes a lot of sense to me. Seems like road-specific performance is especially important.

    As someone without a ton of knowledge of NASCAR history, I’m not seeing why the 14 is considered so strong. Certainly Stewart has been pretty strong at Road Courses, but doesn’t seem especially distinguished compared to Bowyer, for example. What am I missing?

  2. Jed Henson Post author

    I haven’t gone into the loop data to study Stewart’s road course stats, so I can’t say for sure what follows is accurate. Which is, my memory/gut tells me Stewart almost always rises toward the top at road courses. He’s one of the best wheel men in the world, and his talent seems to especially shine in comparison to the other drivers when the Sprint Cup series hits the twisties. Probably because the competitive level overall in Sprint Cup falls off a bit at road courses. But not him.

    Another thing about Stewart: He’s one of those drivers who tends to race much better than he practices and qualifies. It’s to the point that I suspect he’s doing something different in practice than almost all the other drivers, because he’s rarely high on the practice speed charts. Kenseth is another. When these guys do show speed in practice, watch out.

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