Kyle Busch the king of driver rating

May, 19, 2011

Greetings, my loyal minions! Come, rejoice with me, for this is All-Star weekend!

Of course, I'm counting on your loyalty to put me into the NASCAR blogger showdown. You'll get yours, Marty Smith!

Wait, that's not a real thing? It will be now!

Anyway, I thought All-Star weekend would be a good time to take a look back at the 11 races we've had so far and name some loop data all-stars, based, as always, on my own thoughts and opinions, and the numbers. I always consider the numbers.


You'd think I'd like the points leader as the most impressive driver through this point of the season, but the numbers point to Kyle Busch, not Carl Edwards. And that doesn't even include Busch's royal beatdown of the Nationwide Series this season.

But the numbers speak for themselves. Let's start with driver rating, NASCAR's complicated and immense mathematical formula that'll shoot out a number that'll tell you who's the best in a situation. The number pretty quickly mirrors the NFL's passer rating. Anything over 100 is very good, and it maxes out at a perfect 150.

Kyle Busch's driver rating this season is a 112.9, which is 10 points higher than any other driver. There are only five other drivers who have a driver rating this season higher than 90.

It's Not All Good

So, how did Busch end up third in the points despite his gangbuster numbers? It's all about late-race issues.

Busch, along with the rest of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, rank among the bottom seven in the most positions lost over the final 10 percent of races this season. Check out that list on the right!

Mr. Consistency

If I were to tell you a driver was ranked 12th in fastest laps run and 12th in average green-flag speed (16th in speed early in runs and 11th in speed late in runs), you'd probably think said driver was living outside the top 10 in points.

But I'll give you an "a-ha" moment and tell you that the above driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has gained some much-needed consistency this season.

The key to Junior's success has been his ability to avoid trouble, run on the lead lap and gain positions as the race goes on.

No driver has run more laps on the lead lap this season than Junior, who's been on the lead lap for over 94 percent of the laps this season. Only two other drivers, Busch and Edwards, are over 90 percent.

Since we're not points racing this week, I'll skip my normal eliminator part of this column and just implore you to enjoy the racing. No points racing Saturday night, just going for mountains of cash.

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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