Friday, November 14, 2014

Predicting the Winner of the 2014 NASCAR Cup Season

This year is a unique year for NASCAR. Instead of wondering if driver A will finish 15th or better, letting driver B maybe win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship if he finishes 4th or better, and other such convoluted NASCAR algebra, this year, we have a straight up, whoever finishes the highest in the field of the four contenders will be the champion.

That even means if all four get wrecked and finish 39th to 43rd, whom so ever is 39th, will be the champion. Or that the best driver of the four could be eliminated by a bad tire, bad call by another team, or just bad luck.

But who might it be, that will take advantage of this TV ratings induced, newly kludged elimination points system and become the season winner?

Looking at the Homestead driver ratings for Joey Logano, Ryan Neman, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, the money is on Harvick!

Logano  71.2
Newman  84.8
Hamlin  93.4
Harvick 99.1

But I've seen Homestead throw wrenches in statistical performances in the past.

And the latest practice speeds, as I write this, are backing me up, where Harvick posted the faster speeds of the four contenders, followed by Newman, then Hamlin and Logano.

But practice time and race time are two very different beasts and despite the ranking right now, Hamlin has won here before.

If we look at the season's driver ratings for these four drivers,

Newman 86.1
Hamlin 90.7
Logano 106.7
Harvick 109.9

Things look different. But this is a different weekend with all the pressures of an all or nothing race weekend.

I think, pending more practice and qualifying sessions, that this will be between Harvick and Hamlin.  My worries are that Newman might not be quite up to snuff and will pull one of his all or nothing moves by not taking four tires or some such stunt. He tries these a lot and most of the time they don't pan out.

So for lack of any other substantial info, numbers and one practice session say that Kevin Harvick will be the champion come Sunday afternoon.

But too many things can happen in this new and idiotic process that NASCAR has instigated at the behest of the TV networks. So we will see. For now, suffice it to say, the mostly better drivers are at the top of the field and we will have ourselves a first-time champion.

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