Crunching numbers after Charlotte

June, 1, 2010

Everybody get out and stretch your legs, maybe take a little bathroom break. Shake your foot around to get it to wake up.

Have we all recovered from 1,100 miles of racing? I was right here in my office chair for the majority of it. At least I could walk around and take occasional snack breaks.

So, what did we learn?

We learned that Jimmie Johnson, upon further investigation, does not have a golden horseshoe either surgically implanted or naturally placed on his person. Have you seen that commercial where his car falls on a toolbox, only for it to hold up under the weight? Well, lately it seems he would've been better off with it falling on top of his car.

We learned that Ashley Judd still makes for good TV.

We learned that even Jeff Burton can get angry, if you give him a flat tire after 550 or so miles.

I learned that trying to figure out which NASCAR drivers would play which characters in "The A-Team" movie could be a 15-minute endeavor. I would go with Carl Edwards as Face, Juan Pablo Montoya as "Howling Mad" Murdock, Mark Martin as Hannibal and Tony Stewart as B.A. Baracus. Feel free to argue these choices with me, but I'm right.

And, finally, we learned that Kurt Busch is a very real contender for a second career championship. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin put up great points days to show why they're also going to be tough to beat.

Now, let me dish out some of the finest research notes from 600 miles at Charlotte:

Busch bash

In Kurt Busch's first nine 600s, he had nary a top-10. In fact, he had led only 174 laps in those nine races, with an average finish of 25.9. On Sunday, Busch led 252 laps on his way to a win. Those 252 laps were the fifth-most in a 600-mile win in NASCAR's modern era, which goes back to 1972. List time!

Most laps led in 600-mile race win at Charlotte (modern era)
• Jimmie Johnson, 2004 -- 334
• Richard Petty, 1977 -- 311
• Rusty Wallace, 1990 -- 306
• Davey Allison, 1991 -- 263
• Kurt Busch, 2010 -- 252

You might've already heard this, but Busch became the seventh driver to win the All-Star Race and the 600 in back-to-back weekends. Kasey Kahne was the last to do it -- he finished 14th in points that season. But the other five all finished third or better in the final standings.

Trivia break! Who are the three drivers to win the All-Star Race, 600 and the championship in the same season?

A near double

First, however, an actual double, as Chip Ganassi became the first owner to win a Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same season, with Jamie McMurray and Dario Franchitti. Congratulations, and enjoy your giant piles of cash.

Ganassi and McMurray nearly pulled off their own double, winning the Daytona 500 and finishing second in the 600-miler at Charlotte in the same season. Needless to say, that doesn't happen often. McMurray came that close to joining six other drivers who won Daytona and the 600 in the same season. One more list? Why not?

Drivers who've won the Daytona 500 and the 600-mile race at Charlotte in same season
• 1997 -- Jeff Gordon
• 1996 -- Dale Jarrett
• 1989 -- Darrell Waltrip
• 1976 -- David Pearson
• 1969 -- Cale Yarborough
• 1965 -- Fred Lorenzen

Trivia break! McMurray's first career win was at Charlotte in 2002. Who was he driving for?

Pole woes for Newman

Nate Ryan got me thinking about this via a tweet, and being the good little researcher that I am, I had to follow up.

Ryan Newman got his ninth career pole at Charlotte. Only David Pearson, with 14, has been on the pole more than Newman at Charlotte. Newman, however, has never won a race at Charlotte, which is starting to become a trend with Newman and poles. He is now winless in his past 34 starts from the pole.

That is a series record. In fact, only three other drivers have gone more than 20 consecutive races without a victory after winning the pole. The others were Geoffrey Bodine (26), Ricky Rudd (26) and Ken Schrader (23).

Trivia break! When was Newman's last win from the pole?

Trivia break answers

1. Kurt Busch will try to join Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1993) and Jeff Gordon (1997) as drivers with an All-Star and 600 win, along with a title in the same season.

2. McMurray was driving in his first go-round with Chip Ganassi, subbing for the injured Sterling Marlin.

3. Newman won from the pole at Pocono in 2003.

Matt Willis | email

ESPN Staff Writer
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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