Last week, I developed an algorithm to predict the first four motives To get out of the playoffs. Since we have to wait a couple of races before evaluating how well this algorithm works, let’s try something else.
Let’s try to predict the contenders for today’s Cup Qualifier race which is Kansas Speedway (3pm ET on USA Network).
Kansas predicted only one Kansas race
Picking drivers based solely on the May race in Kansas wouldn’t give us very solid results. So we will add two similar tracks that have already hosted a race this year.
The track most similar to Kansas is the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Both D-tracks are 1.5 miles long with low tire wear. Las Vegas has progressive banking between 18 and 20 degrees while Kansas banking ranges from 17 to 20 degrees.
The other track is Michigan International Speedway. Kansas and Michigan share the same shape and level of tire wear. They are different lengths, but only half a mile. The bank angle in Michigan is 18 degrees, similar to the turns in Kansas.
I weighed the averages to make the KS data equal to the other two tracks combined. Basically, I added Kansas twice and Michigan and Las Vegas once and divided by four. When I refer to the average finishing position or the average running position of a data set, I mean weighted averages.
The algorithm was developed using the same techniques described before, but we appreciate the win here. I used the driver’s average finish over the last five races to pick up momentum. For reference, all but one of the drivers have averaged 10 or worse finishes in the last five races.
The top three contenders
No one will be surprised to see it Kyle Larson at the top of my list. It is at the top of Lots of listings. The weighted finishing position graph below shows his 3.25 average finishing position. That’s half the average finishing position for the second-placed driver, Martin Truex Jr.
Larson enters KS confident, but realistic about the level of competition he expects from Toyota.
“I’m sure they’ll get the pole,” Larson said. “I am sure they will stay hunting throughout the race. It will be tough, but they can definitely be defeated.”
Larson is one of only three drivers to have a top 10 ranking on all three tracks. The other two are Truex and Alex Bowman. Although Larson did not win any of the three races, he had a fierce battle with the ultimate winner Kurt Busch in Kansas in May. He also led 7.6% of all courses in these three tracks this year.
The second and third drivers score points behind Larson, but they are very close to each other.
despite Christopher Bell He earned a DNF in Michigan, and was still ranked fifth as the best running center for that race. Bell drove 13.5% of the laps on the three tracks in 2022, the second highest total for any driver. He is one of only two drivers to lead laps on all three tracks this year.
Denny Hamlin He has the second best finish in his last five races at 10.8. That propelled him to third place on the predictions list in Kansas. Although the Las Vegas race was not terminated due to a problem with the propulsion system, Hamlin topped 9.3% of all possible laps in the three target races.
The last of the top six predictions in Kansas
The final three drivers were tightly grouped into the score, but less than Bell and Hamlin.
Ross Chastain It ranks fourth. He drove the most laps of any driver (15.7%) in the three-lane sample. He’s also driven every one of the three races we’re studying. Bill is the only other driver who has done so.
“It’s strange that our victories didn’t come on the 1.5-mile tracks, because I feel like those were our strongest races,” Chastain said.
Stronger or not, Chastain’s position on the list isn’t higher because his average finishing position in the last five races is 23.2. This is the worst of any of the first nine drivers identified by the algorithm.
Las Vegas winner Alex Bowman comes in fifth, with an average of 7.0 points. Although he has had a streak of P30+ finish mid-season, his average finish in the last five races is 13.4. He is also one of the three drivers in the top ten in all three races in the sample.
Number 6 on my list Kevin Harvick. Aside from his win in Michigan, he doesn’t have a number as distinguished as the other drivers. Just solid numbers on every scale. If he can direct frustration last week On a strong run, he could cement his place in the next round of playoffs on Sunday (3PM ET on USA Network).
With the second highest average finish in the sample tracks, how did Truex only rank seventh? He finished in the top ten in all three races, but didn’t break into the top five. He only drove one lap between the three tracks. But if you’re looking for a driver to run in the top ten, it’s a solid choice.
Joey Logano Fast paced with best average in the last five races (5.8). But his final average position on these trails is 13.0, with no laps left.
Chase Brisco and Daniel Suarez with average finishes of 25.8 and 32.0, respectively. While Suarez has shown improvement since his Sonoma win, his average finishing position in the last five races is still just 18.2.
KS predicts tires in the playoffs
Goodyear continues to develop the next generation 18-inch tire. Just as the teams learned a lot about the car during the season, so did the tire engineers.
They changed the build and tread in Kansas for the May race. the right side tire code It’s run in Pocono and Michigan, but the left side is new.
Texas and Las Vegas are set to use the same tire codes. So, in addition to the points, teams will be scrambling to collect tire data in hopes that they can use it to their advantage in the fourth and seventh playoff races.