Tale of the Texas tape on Edwards, Stewart

November, 3, 2011

Let's face it, numbers can be confusing or just downright misleading from time to time. Ever try doing your taxes, or know what a fractal is?

This is where I come to do my service, trying to go inside the numbers where they might do a great job themselves. You want examples, you got examples. Otherwise what I've written wouldn't make any sense.

Carl Edwards has three wins at Texas, more than any other active driver at the track. But, other than those wins, his success at Texas has been limited, a boom-or-bust scenario.

His next two best finishes at Texas are a third and a 10th. He has more finishes of 15th or worse there than he does finishes better than 15th.

Digging deeper, Edwards swept at Texas in 2008, averaging a 143.3 driver rating. In the five races since, just a 92.0.

He also ran the fastest lap 167 times in those two 2008 races, but in the next five races, only 34. This chart will give you what you need.

Tony Stewart, on the flip side, has just the one win in his career at Texas, but has shown a lot more consistency than Edwards at the track, and has frankly been better over the past five races there.

Remember those numbers for Edwards in the 2009-11 period? Stewart has them all trumped, with a driver rating more than 10 points higher, a +21 pass differential and 91 fastest laps run.

To me, an important number is eight. Roush Fenway Racing has won eight of the 21 races at Texas, more than twice as many as any other team. Plus, it gave Matt Kenseth a rocket at this race and at the similar track in Charlotte just a few weeks ago.

On the other hand, a Hendrick-powered team (Stewart gets Hendrick engines) has only won one of the past seven races there, when Jeff Gordon finished first in the spring 2009 race.

So if Edwards can get on the same page as Kenseth was for the spring race, he could take another step to getting that elusive first Cup title.

The Eliminator: Texas

Most people just pick winners, some by hunches, some by stats, and some by just picking a name off the top of their heads. I don't pick winners, I pick losers. I'll make my race pick by telling you why all but one driver in the field just can't win.

Plus, in the spring Texas race, I had Kenseth winning this deal, and the Eliminator didn't let me down.

1. All six winners of the fall Texas race had won earlier in the season (31 drivers eliminated, 17 remaining).
2. Eight of the past nine Texas winners had a previous top-two finish at Texas (8 eliminated, 9 remaining).
3. Twelve of the past 13 Texas winners finished ninth or better in the last California race of the season (4 eliminated, 5 remaining).
4. Five of the past six Texas winners finished first or second in the last Texas race of the season (3 eliminated, 2 remaining).
5. The past 10 Texas winners had at least nine prior Cup wins (one eliminated, one remaining).

Your winner: Matt Kenseth

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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