By The Numbers

How The NASCAR Chase Grid Works

The 2014 NASCAR season introduces a new twist to the way the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion is decided. You can follow the NASCAR Chase Grid as it fills out. Here is a run down on how it works.


Q. Does this new Chase format emphasize winning?

A. Absolutely. The easiest way to make the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is to win. And winning is also the fastest way to advance in the Chase and become one of the four drivers competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Q. How will the Chase Grid drivers be selected?

A. Positions 1-16 on the Chase Grid will be determined by the drivers with the greatest number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins after the first 26 races. However, the 16th position is reserved for the points leader if he/she does not have a win.

Q. How will the Chase Grid be seeded?

A. All drivers will have their points total reset to 2,000 points. Drivers receive 3 additional bonus points for each win during the fir st 26 races.

Q. Is there a minimum points standing that a driver who records a win during the first 26 races must achieve to make the Chase Grid?

A. Yes. A driver must be in the Top 30 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points following the first 26 races AND have attempted to qualify for all of the first 26 races.

Q. What if a driver is prevented from competing in one or more of the first 26 races due to injury or illness?

A. NASCAR, for rare instances, can waive the requirement of attempting to qualify for all of the first 26 races as long as the driver is in the Top 30 in points.

Q. Which races are the advancement races?

A. Once the field is reset after the 26th event, there are advancement races following the 29th event (Dover); 32nd event (Talladega); and 35th event (Phoenix). There will be four drivers competing for the Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead.

Q. Will lap leader bonus points still be applied?

A. In all but the final r ace, bonus points for laps led still will be awarded in the Challenger, Contender and Eliminator Rounds. However, at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, the four drivers will start the race tied and there will be no bonus points .for laps led, etc. The highest finisher among that group will be the champion.

Q. What happens to a Chase Grid driver’s points if he/she doesn’t advance to the next round?

A. Drivers who don’t advance to the next round will have their point totals reset to the Chase-start base of 2,000 (with any regular-season wins bonus points), plus the additional points they’ve earned during the Chase.


3 Races / 16 Drivers

  • Chicagoland………………………………… 9/14
  • New Hampshire…………………………… 9/21
  • Dover………………………………………….. 9/28

Fast Facts: The 16 drivers on the Chase Grid will vie for the 12 spots available in the Contender Round. Challenger Round drivers who win a race in this round automatically advance to the next round. The rest of the Top 12 will be set by points and all drivers who advance will have their points reset to 3,000.


3 Races / 12 Drivers

  • Kansas……………………………………….. 10/5
  • Charlotte…………………………………… 10/11
  • Talladega…………………………………… 10/19

Fast Facts: The Top 12 drivers will vie for the 8 spots available in the Eliminator Round. Contender Round drivers who win a race in this round automatically advance to the next round. The rest of the Top 8 will be set by points and all drivers who advance will have their points reset to 4,000.


3 Races / 8 Drivers

  • Martinsville……………………………….. 10/26
  • Texas………………………………………….. 11/2
  • Phoenix………………………………………. 11/9

Fast Facts: The Top 8 drivers will vie for the 4 spots available in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Eliminator Round drivers who win a race in this round automatically advance to the finale. The rest of the Top 4 will be set by points and all drivers who advance will have their points reset to 5,000.


1 Race / 4 Drivers

  • Homestead-Miami……………………… 11/16

Fast Facts: The 36th and final race of the season will be the “NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.” Simply stated, the first to the finish line among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Phoenix International Raceway, The Profit on CNBC 500

Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who got his second Daytona 500 victory on a long day in Daytona Beach, FL. Once again there were a few of the top tier drivers that had problems at a restrictor plate track and now find themselves in a hole only one week into the season. Now they have to move out west to Phoenix for the running of the Profit on CNBC 500.

Phoenix International Raceway is a 1-mile, low banked tri-oval track that was just reconfigured approximately two and a half years ago. Some of the drivers don’t like the new configuration because the backstretch dips and then rises and dips again. However, that seems to have made the track better for competition in my opinion.


Jimmie Johnson: I am going to pick Jimmie Johnson to get his first win of the season at Phoenix this week. He has four career wins here and has finished in the top five in fourteen of his twenty-one starts at this track. He looked good at Daytona last week and everyone knows that he and Chad Knaus bring their A-game every week.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin could give Jimmie more than he bargained for this week. Kevin has won two of the last three races at Phoenix, which is since the new track configuration. He is with a brand new team this season and that is the only reason I am not picking him to win this week. I just want to make sure that this team is on the same page and is able to make the correct adjustments to their car as the race progresses. I really don’t think this will be an issue, but I want to be sure.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale finished in the top five in both of the races at Phoenix last season. With the momentum he gained last week he could be ready for another great run this weekend. He has most of the pressure off of him right now and a win will almost guarantee a driver a spot in the Chase this year. Now he can relax and try to win a handful of races between now and September.

Denny Hamlin: Denny had a great Speedweeks and it looks like he is finally healthy after suffering a back injury in crash last season. Denny has always been good at Phoenix and finished in the top three in three of his last four starts at this track. He will finish in the top five once again and might even pull off the win.

Brad Keselowski: Brad looked like he had a very fast car at Daytona last week and would like nothing better than to get a win early this season and get the monkey off his back from a disappointing season last year. Brad has finished in the top ten in three of his last four starts at Phoenix and likes to run the short, flat tracks.

Kyle Busch: Kyle is one of the better all around drivers on the circuit and he has been very good at Phoenix since the track reconstruction. He also has three top ten finishes in his last four starts here and you can never count him out because of his driving ability.

Kasey Kahne: Kasey had a disappointing week at Daytona and received a speeding penalty on pit road just for trying to stay out of a wreck to make matters worse. This week they will forget all about what happened last weekend when they unload their car in Phoenix. Kasey has four top ten finishes in his last six races here, including a win back in November of 2011. Another good choice for this weekend.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has always run very well at Phoenix and now that he is on a new team with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick he should only get better. All three of these drivers know how to race at Phoenix and now they can all pool their resources to make each of them better at this track. Kurt usually leads at least some laps when he comes to this track and this year should be no different.

Carl Edwards: Carl won this race last season and should come with a car capable of doing it again. He has two career wins here and has lead laps in five of the past seven races in which he got both of his wins. He had a great run last week at Daytona and though he didn’t win the race I think that this team will build on the momentum they gained.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Jimmie Johnson
  • Kevin Harvick

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Denny Hamlin
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Carl Edwards
  • Greg Biffle

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Justin Algaier
  • Reed Sorenson


  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Kyle Busch

Dark Horse: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stay Away From: Brian Vickers

Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona 500

Welcome back race fans! The first points race of the 2014 season kicks off this Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, FL. As I was watching the Duels last evening I was wondering what is really going to happen this season. Who will win the championship with the new format where the last race of the season determines the champion between four drivers? Is this the right way to determine a champion after 36 weeks of racing? Who will be the most improved driver? Which drivers will have disappointing season’s? Who will be the rookie of the year?

Those questions can only be answered by watching the races and seeing how the season develops. The first duel was quite tame last evening, with Matt Kenseth proving that once again this season he is going to have great equipment. The second duel started out just like the first until the last lap when all heck broke loose. However, Denny Hamlin proved this week that he is back in top form after a disappointing season last year when he was knocked out of a few races and drove the final races when he was not 100% healthy after a crash that injured his back.

So, lets see what we think is going to happen this week, predict a winner and then set our lineup for the first race of the year. One thing that I would like to caution everyone on that is in a Yahoo league you only get to start each driver nine times throughout the year, so don’t use your best drivers at restrictor plate tracks! There are just too many unknowns at these tracks, and any driver can get caught up in the big one no matter how well they have run the entire race.


Now, with that said I am going to pick Denny Hamlin to win the Daytona 500 this year, but I won’t be starting him in my Yahoo lineup for the reasons that I stated above. Denny is one of the best drivers in the B list and I will probably use him nine other times during the season. I do like the way that he ran all week at Daytona and the Joe Gibbs cars all looked good the whole week.

The driver that will give Denny a run for his money this weekend is going to be Matt Kenseth. Matt is another of the Joe Gibbs drivers that has run well all week. Matt has made a few mistakes on the track and that has cost him and some other drivers a lot of headaches. I think Matt has learned a lot like all of the drivers have about the closing rates of the cars, how they draft this year, and how and where they are the most unstable.

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano both drive for Penske Racing and both of those cars looked great in the draft last night. Brad made a mistake on pit road that cost him a chance at winning a Duel, but I am sure that he learned a lot from that experience. I think that most drivers trust both of these guys not to make mistakes on the track, so they shouldn’t have trouble teaming up with other drivers to draft with.

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle both race for Roush/Fenway Racing and they both had extremely fast race cars during Speedweek, but neither of them looked good in the draft last night. Daytona is all about drafting and if you can’t draft well, you will find yourself alone on the track. I am staying away from both of these drivers this week.

Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick are all driving for Stewart/Haas Racing, both Kevin and Kurt are in their first year with the organization and this is only Danica’s second full year in the Cup series. Both Danica and Tony lost engines earlier this week and that concerns me about all of these drivers this weekend. Kevin ran well in his Duel and finished second, but his car didn’t pass post-race inspection. Once again I am going to stay away from all of these drivers this weekend.

Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne are all part of the Hendrick Motorsports stable and every one of these drivers has had good cars this week. However, they have made multiple mistakes that have cost themselves, their teammates, and other drivers their original cars. The cars aren’t the big deal for the Hendrick teams, but they can’t make any more mistakes, because the next mistake ends their weekend.

That is the way that I see this weekend shaping up. Now I will give you my starting Yahoo lineup and predict the top five finishers in this week’s race.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Matt Kenseth

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Jamie McMurray
  • Marcos Ambrose
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Brad Keselowski

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Michael Waltrip
  • Austin Dillon


  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Matt Kenseth
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Jimmie Johnson

Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray

Stay Away From: Tony Stewart

By The Numbers Fantasy NASCAR

2014 NASCAR Driver Finish Predictions

I got an email from Cliff DeJong this morning. Cliff is the creator of our exclusive AccuPredict weekly NASCAR Driver finish position predictor algorithm. He has worked with statistics his whole life and each off-season he pours back over the NASCAR numbers to learn how his computations can be modified to increase their accuracy. Cliff is and has been a great asset for me and all the subscribers at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet that use his AccuPredict data each week to help pick their weekly fantasy NASCAR drivers.


During this off-season Cliff examined the 2010 – 2013 NASCAR seasons and projected what he thinks will be the statistically likely finishes for the 2014 NASCAR season.

He used 2010 – 2012 to predict 2013, and then the same methodology with 2011-2013 data to predict 2014. As an interesting side-project he also looked at the last 10 years of notable rookies to estimate how Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Danica Patrick will do this year. As well as how well the rookies in general will do.

He is pretty happy with his results. Those of you that are really geeky into stats will get how exciting it is to have correlations of 0.88+. That is what Cliff was able to accomplish in this study.


You bet.

Kevin Harvick is projecting to be the best average finisher in 2014. Matt Kenseth is second, and Jimmie Johnson will fall to third. Carl Edwards is in fourth, and Kyle Busch is just behind Carl in fifth. Cliff still is uncertain about how to predict who will be in the Chase with the new format, but right now he is comfortable to pick the top-twelve on his list almost for sure to be in.

Cliff shared that the major unknowns are how well Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart will bounce back after their respective injuries. Plus, he notes the performance of rookies Austin Dillon and Parker Kligerman are also only rough estimates. For all the #3 fans he says the Austin Dillon in particular could do much better than the forecast shows.


Without further ado, here is Cliff’s predictions for the 2014 NASCAR season.

Rank Driver Average Finish
1 Kevin Harvick 10.9
2 Matt Kenseth 11.4
3 Jimmie Johnson 11.7
4 Carl Edwards 12.3
5 Kyle Busch 12.4
6 Brad Keselowski 12.7
7 Clint Bowyer 13.1
8 Dale  Earnhardt Jr 13.4
9 Jeff Gordon 13.7
10 Tony Stewart 13.9
11 Kasey Kahne 14.1
12 Greg Biffle 14.3
13 Martin Truex Jr 15.1
14 Joey Logano 15.3
15 Ryan Newman 15.4
16 Kurt Busch 15.7
17 Paul Menard 17.0
18 Denny Hamlin 17.3
19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 17.7
20 Brian Vickers 18.3
21 Marcos Ambrose 18.7
22 Jamie McMurray 18.8
23 AJ Allmendinger 19.3
24 Austin Dillon 19.6
25 Parker  Kligerman 22.7
26 Danica Patrick 24.3
27 David Ragan 24.8
28 Casey Mears 25.7
29 Kyle Larson 26.7
30 David Gilliland 27.2
31 David Reutimann 27.4
32 Dave Blaney 29.4
33 Justin Allgaier 29.5
34 Travis Kvapil 29.6
35 Landon Cassill 30.0
36 David Stremme 32.8
37 JJ Yeley 33.6
38 Michael McDowell 37.3

PHOTO CREDIT: NASCAR via Getty Images. PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway on January 12, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Fantasy NASCAR


Welcome back race fans! The new season is less than a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about fantasy NASCAR once again.


That also means that I will be running my Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing league once again this year and am inviting all of you to join me and see which of you can beat me in this league. Click on the link to get started. Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing. The Group ID is 1360 and the password in kenseth (all small letters). Make sure you get the appropriate number and word in the right box. I look forward to competing against all of this sites readers!


Now for some of the new things we will see on the track this year and some of my predictions for the upcoming season.


First off there is going to be a new qualifying format in all three of the top series. It will be very similar to the way NASCAR ran qualifying at the road courses last season with all of the cars or trucks on the track at the same time for a certain duration determined by the track length. There will be either two or three rounds and drivers will be eliminated by speed in each round. The number of rounds once again is decided by the length of the track. The only race that will not have this type of format is the Daytona 500, which will continue to use its’ very own unique qualifying with the top two spots determined by speed and the remainder of the field set by two separate races on the Thursday before the season begins.


The second thing that is happening is the return of the #3 car with Austin Dillon as the full-time driver. This will be the first time the #3 car has been run in the Sprint Cup series since the death of Dale Earnhardt. I for one thought the number should have been retired, but it isn’t up to me.


There are so many driver changes this year that I will only tell you about some of the more prominent names in the sport. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch both move to Stewart-Haas Racing and will pilot the #4 and #41 cars respectively. I think it is kind of funny that Kurt will be driving the same numbered car as his arch enemy on the track, Jimmy Spencer, used to drive.

Ryan Newman moves to Richard Childress Racing and will replace Jeff Burton in the #31 car. Brian Vickers takes over the full-time ride of the #55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing if he is healthy and Martin Truex Jr. moves to Furniture Row Racing and takes over the ride of Kurt Busch from last season.

There will be eight Rookie of the Year candidates this season, which is an unprecedented number. These include #51-Justin Allgaier, #7-Michael Annett, #23-Alex Bowman, #3-Austin Dillon, #30-Parker Kligerman, #42-Kyle Larson, #83-Ryan Truex, and #26-Cole Whitt. I predict that Austin Dillon wins the award with Justin Allgaier coming in a close second.


Once again I have to believe that Jimmie Johnson is going to win another championship and will continue to pile them up unless NASCAR can come up with a better way to run the Chase, which I also believe will happen in the near future. I also think that Matt Kenseth will close the gap on Jimmie this season, but he will still come up short.

I also predict that Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin will all make the Chase this season, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Greg Biffle will be on the outside looking in.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for coming back to the site and encourage you all to sign up for the Yahoo Fantasy Racing League. Come back after the Budweiser Duel races are over on February 20th and I will have all of my predictions for the Daytona 500 posted for all of you to read!