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Statistics Do Some Talking

Courtesy of Speed.com

No sport is as crazy about numbers as baseball, whose most devoted followers can tell you how many times Albert Pujols hit doubles while playing on the road in temperatures of 50 degrees or less against lefthanded pitchers born in Iowa under the sign of Scorpio.

Statistics say a lot in NASCAR, too, however, and here’s a look at some of the good, bad and ugly of the numbers for the season just past:

THE GOOD

Jimmie Johnson led the list of fastest laps run. Of 9,017 green-flag laps logged during the season, Johnson led 800. Carl Edwards was second at 732.

No surprise here – Kyle Busch, a driver with a nose for the front, had the most laps running in the top 15 – 8,216.

Kyle Busch also led the way in percentage of laps led. He was in front for 13.66 percent of the season’s 10,650 laps, easily better than second-place Jimmie Johnson (10.47 percent).

Eight drivers led at last one lap in at least 20 races – Kyle Busch (26 races), Carl Edwards (25), Jimmie Johnson (23), Matt Kenseth (23), Jeff Gordon (22), Tony Stewart (21), Kurt Busch (20), Brad Keselowski (20).

Three drivers continued impressive streaks of posting at least one seasonal win. Tony Stewart has won at least one race for 13 straight years. Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch ran their streaks to 10 years.

THE BAD

Nine drivers who might have been expected to win races in 2011 didn’t get to victory lane. Their best finishes: AJ Allmendinger, fifth; Greg Biffle, third; Jeff Burton, second; Dale Earnhardt Jr., second; Joey Logano, third; Mark Martin, second; Jamie McMurray, fourth; Juan Pablo Montoya, third; Martin Truex Jr., second.

Failing to finish races is an almost certain way to kill one’s season, and several contending drivers had four or more DNFs for the year: Clint Bowyer (six), Kyle Busch (four), Kasey Kahne (four), Jamie McMurray (five), David Ragan (five), Regan Smith (four).

Frustration piled upon frustration for quite a few drivers as long winless streaks were extended. Greg Biffle hasn’t won in 43 straight races, Jeff Burton in 113, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 129, Joey Logano in 91, Jamie McMurray in 41, Juan Pablo Montoya in 50 and Martin Truex Jr. in 167.

THE UGLY

Of leading drivers who failed to show up often at the front, the numbers for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Joey Logano stood out. Burton and Earnhardt Jr. led laps in only nine races, while Logano led in only five. Earnhardt Jr. scored only nine bonus points for the season, while every other Chase driver had at least 20.

Top drivers who led less than one percent of the 10,650 laps run during the year: Jeff Burton, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, David Ragan.

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