Notable drivers after 6 races into the 2012 Sprint Cup season…
With two wins and 214 points, our model predicts that Tony Stewart is all but certain to make the Chase. While this is sort of a no-brainer considering that he won the Championship last year and his performance hasn’t shown any letup, it is notable to indicate how solid his season has been so far.
Looking at the breakdown, we project that Stewart has a 96.9% probability of making the Chase based on points in the top 10. Adding in his wins and looking at his Wild Card probability, his likelihood of making the Chase increases to 99.9%. In fact, just as a bare minimum to make the Chase with a Wild Card position, he only needs to an average finish of 24th or better based on historical data.
Conversely, when we look at Jeff Gordon’s current season, we find that he will have to average a finish of 13th or better in order to make the Chase with a top 10 points position. This is quite doable considering his career average finish is 13.7. However, his current 2012 average finish is 22.5, which is the worst of his career. Looking at the historical window to make the Chase, he’s +26 points from the lowest total to make the Chase at this point.
Our model predicts that Gordon currently has a 42% probability of making the Chase. He’s certainly in the mix, but he’ll likely be part of those on the bubble making it in on points or fighting for a Wild Card spot.
So far this season, Kurt Busch has an average finish of 24.8. This is his worst performance since his first full season in Cup. Although his performance falloff from previous years is somewhat predictable considering the limited budget of Phoenix Racing and the team’s average finishing position of 27 last season.
Our model currently predicts that Kurt Busch has a 17.5% chance of making the Chase this season. Based on the resources at hand for his current team, it looks unlikely that his chances will improve as the season continues. He’s only +6 points inside the Chase window.
Kasey Kahne’s chances of making the Chase are dwindling quickly. In order to make the Chase on points, he’d have to average finishes of 11th or better. To make it in with a Wild Card position, he will need to have an average finish of 18th or better and will likely need to pick-up at least 2 wins. So far this season, his average finish has been 28.5 and his best finish was 14th at Fontana. To put this in perspective, Kahne would need to outperform his best seasons (2006, 2009, & 2011) by averaging finishes by 4 spots better in order to make the Chase on points and essentially match his performance in those years in order to have a chance at making it in with a Wild Card position.
Our model predicts that Kahne has a 4.2% chance of making the Chase at this point. He is currently -17 points out of the Chase window. After 6 races, no one with his point total has ever made the Chase.