By the numbers: The 2013 Chasers at Dover

1 Comment

Next up in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup is the high-banked “Monster Mile” of Dover International Speedway, which will host Chase race No. 3 – the AAA 400.

Controversy struck in the series’ first visit to Dover back in June. In the closing laps, NASCAR found Jimmie Johnson to have jumped the final restart of the day with 19 laps to go and penalized him. That set up a fight between Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Stewart, which the latter won by making what would be the race-winning pass with three laps remaining.

Among this year’s Chase contenders, Jeff Gordon led the group with a third-place finish with Kyle Busch in fourth after leading a race-high 150 laps. As for Johnson, he led 143 laps but wound up finishing 17th after the penalty.

Other Chasers in the Top 10 were Clint Bowyer in sixth, Joey Logano in seventh, Kevin Harvick in eighth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10th. Current Chase leader Matt Kenseth, who has opened the post-season with back-to-back wins at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, finished 40th after suffering an engine failure toward the halfway point.

Once again, here’s a look at how each Chaser has done over his career at this frenetic track. Note to all you fantasy racers: You might want to put a certain five-time Cup champion – and seven-time Dover winner – on your team this weekend.

MATT KENSETH (Leader – 2,111 points)
Two wins, 13 Top-5s, 18 Top-10s
Average Finish: 13.6 in 29 races
Average Running Position: 9.4, second-best

KYLE BUSCH (second, -14 points)
Two wins, eight Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
Average Finish: 13.3 in 17 races
Average Running Position: 11.2, sixth-best

JIMMIE JOHNSON (third, -18 points)
Seven wins, 11 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s
Average Finish: 9.0 in 23 races
Average Running Position: 7.1, series-best
*Series-high 5,862 Laps in the Top 15 (86.2%)

CARL EDWARDS (fourth, -36 points)
One win, eight Top-5s, 12 Top-10s
Average Finish: 8.6 in 18 races
Average Running Position: 10.3, third-best

GREG BIFFLE (fifth, -38 points)
Two wins, six Top-5s, 10 Top-10s
Average Finish: 12.5 in 22 races
Average Running Position: 10.7, fifth-best

KEVIN HARVICK (sixth, -39 points)
Three Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
Average Finish: 15.6 in 25 races
Average Running Position: 16.0, 14th-best

KURT BUSCH (seventh, -40 points)
One win, six Top-5s, eight Top-10s
Average Finish: 18.1 in 26 races
Average Running Position: 12.7, eighth-best

JEFF GORDON (eighth, -42 points)
Four wins, 16 Top-5s, 23 Top-10s
Average Finish: 11.8 in 41 races
Average Running Position: 12.8, ninth-best

RYAN NEWMAN (ninth, -47 points)
Three wins, six Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
Average Finish: 13.1 in 23 races
Average Running Position: 12.7, seventh-best

CLINT BOWYER (tenth, -48 points)
One Top-5, eight Top-10s
Average Finish: 12.7 in 15 races
Average Running Position: 12.8, 10th-best

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (11th, -62 points)
One win, five Top-5s, nine Top-10s
Average Finish: 17.0 in 27 races
Average Running Position: 18.8, 20th-best

JOEY LOGANO (12th, -69 points)
One Top-5, five Top-10s
Average Finish: 16.8 in nine races
Average Running Position: 19.0, 21st-best

KASEY KAHNE (13th, -71 points)
One Top-5, five Top-10s
Average Finish: 21.5 in 19 races
Average Running Position: 16.9, 16th-best

IndyCar’s 2018 full-field grid nearing completion

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following Wednesday’s confirmation of the all-Canadian tandem at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, each of the eight full-time teams in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season have announced at least one driver for 2018, leaving very few remaining question marks.

What stands confirmed is below:

CONFIRMED

  • Team Penske (3, Chevrolet): Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power
  • Chip Ganassi Racing (1, Honda): Scott Dixon
  • Andretti Autosport (4, Honda): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2, Honda): Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2, Honda): James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (2, Chevrolet): Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (1, Chevrolet): Tony Kanaan
  • Dale Coyne Racing (1, Honda): Sebastien Bourdais
  • Harding Racing (1, Chevrolet): Gabby Chaves

There are four additional drivers confirmed for selected races or an month of May program:

  • Team Penske (1, Chevrolet): Helio Castroneves
  • Andretti Autosport (1, Honda): Stefan Wilson
  • Calmels Sport with SPM (1, Honda): Tristan Gommendy
  • Team TBD (1, TBD): Kyle Kaiser

All told that’s 17 full-season driver and team combinations confirmed and four additional part-time programs, at least, that are set. Several of those driver/team combinations will have engineering and strategist changes, as well.

In a minor note since our last update at Sonoma, Marco Andretti confirmed he won’t run No. 27 next year. Of note, Bryan Herta served as Andretti’s race strategist this year, although the car he was an entrant on was Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 car. Herta will continue his relationship with Andretti Autosport again next season.

WHAT’S LEFT TO SORT? NOT MUCH

Elsewhere, there’s only a handful of remaining question marks as the series hits mid-October, a rarity from past years and an illustration of the urgency to fill seats to get as much preparation time in testing with the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit as possible.

NBC Sports expects 2016 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Ed Jones to be confirmed soon as second driver in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda alongside Sebastien Bourdais, with team personnel and Bourdais both having indicated a preference in keeping the Dubai-based Brit for a second year.

NBC Sports also expects Jones’ successor as Indy Lights champion, Kyle Kaiser, to have his future announced shortly in terms of which team he’ll step up to IndyCar with. It would not be a surprise if Kaiser does graduate along with Juncos Racing, although Kaiser is known to have talked to multiple teams. The Mazda Motorsports scholarship nets him $1 million for a three-race program, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500, with the driver then needing to secure additional funding for further races, as Jones and Pigot both have each of the last two years.

The status of Brendon Hartley has now been thrown up as a slight question mark dependent on how his Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso goes at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, and if Toro Rosso provides him a further race opportunity in one of the remaining three Grands Prix thereafter. Having been all-but-earmarked for Chip Ganassi Racing’s second seat in 2018, if an F1 offer comes, Hartley’s potential IndyCar bow could get delayed.

A McLaren-named entry competing either in the Indianapolis 500 or full-time seems further off than realistic for next year, McLaren’s Zak Brown told reporters on a teleconference this week. McLaren maintains an IndyCar technical presence though, via its McLaren Applied Technologies outfit.

What’s left then are the dominoes of whether Carlin’s IndyCar plans officially come to fruition as the team has gotten closer than it ever has to doing so, and who emerges in the second seats at A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Ed Carpenter Racing (road and street courses), respectively.

A number of young IndyCar veterans – Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly namely – are yet to land for 2018 and there’s no guarantee all four of them will be back in IndyCar next season.

There’s also a handful of young drivers, namely RC Enerson, Jack Harvey, Esteban Gutierrez, Santiago Urrutia, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Sage Karam and Matthew Brabham among others, who could well emerge in the frame for seats.

Gutierrez’s status seemed dependent on Mexico City being added to the 2018 calendar, and although the race still could be added, the fact neither is in place at this point doesn’t inspire as much confidence about his presence as a regular on the grid as it did earlier this summer.

All told, there’s not nearly that much to sort out as IndyCar’s grid for 2018 is looking very much close to set at this early stage of a long offseason.