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By the Numbers: Cream of the crop rises to the top at Charlotte

October 13, 2011, , NASCAR.com



By the Numbers: Cream of the crop rises to the top at Charlotte
Championship contenders in Truck Series have had recent success at Vegas

Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile quad-oval with 24 degrees banking in the turns. The frontstretch is 1,980 feet with 5 degrees banking; the backstretch is 1,500 feet with 5 degrees banking. | Tickets

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3 -- Roush Fenway Racing drivers who finished in the top four in the May race at Charlotte: 1. Matt Kenseth; 2. Carl Edwards; 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kenseth was filling in for Trevor Bayne; it's his only series start of the season.

Side note: Roush leads all teams at Charlotte with 86 starts, 13 poles, 11 wins, 30 top-fives, 45 top-10s and 2,354 laps led. However, Kenseth's win was the first for Roush in the past 10 races at CMS and just the second in the past 17 races.

4 -- Times in the past 11 races at Charlotte the driver leading the most laps won. Kyle Busch accounts for three of those victories; Jeff Burton has the other win.

Side note: Busch led 47 percent of the laps races at CMS in the past seven races (650 of 1,375); he led the most laps in five of the past seven races.

10 -- Place of finish for Elliott Sadler in the May race at Charlotte. Sadler, second in the point standings, made eight series starts at CMS from 1997-2006, with a best finish of second in October 2005.

51 -- Nationwide Series wins for Kyle Busch, most of all time. Busch made his first series start at Charlotte, in May 2003, driving the No. 87 Chevrolet for Joe Nemechek. Busch finished second. He became the youngest winner in track history the following year, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports to victory on May 29, 2004. Busch was 19 years, 27 days old.

Side note: In 16 starts at CMS, Busch has six wins, 11 top-fives and 13 top-10s. His 6.9 average finish is best among drivers with more than five starts and is second-best overall.

Very Interesting

186.994 -- Qualifying speed for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the May race at Charlotte, the fastest pole of the season. Stenhouse finished fourth, the highest of any series points contender.

Side note: Stenhouse's speed was second-fastest in track history. Jimmie Johnson holds the series mark at 187.735 mph in October 2005.

* May race at Charlotte: Results | Videos

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1 -- Times in the past nine races at Charlotte the leader of the most laps won: Kurt Busch led 252 of 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 in May 2010.

Side note: Kevin Harvick led two laps in the 600-mile race this past May, the fewest of any winner. Harvick passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap, just one of two last-lap passes in track history. That race also marked the first time in three green-white-checkered finishes at CMS the leader at the scheduled distance (Earnhardt) didn't win.

6 -- Times in the past 10 races the Charlotte the winner started from the first two rows. The other four races were won from starting positions of 16th or worse, and three of the past five were won from 21st or worse.

Side note: The past two races have been won from starting positions of 27th and 28th; only one winner has started worse in track history: Jimmie Johnson (37th) in May 2003.

9 -- Different winners in the past nine races at Charlotte (in order, since May 2007): Casey Mears, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, David Reutimann, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick.

18 -- Races at Charlotte since Ford last won there: Mark Martin in May 2002. Chevrolet has won 12 times since, with Dodge scoring five wins and Toyota one.

Side note: Ford had a one-win edge on Chevrolet for most victories at CMS before its current drought (27-26). Now, Chevrolet leads all makes with 38 wins; Dodge has 15 and Toyota just the one.

Very Interesting

3 -- Times in the past five qualifying events when the pole speed has eclipsed 190 mph it has been at Charlotte: Jimmie Johnson (192.376) in October 2009; Jeff Gordon (191.544) in October 2010; and Brad Keselowski (192.089) in May 2011. Keselowski's pole speed is the fastest of the season.

Side note: The other two 190 mph qualifying speeds were by Dale Earnhardt Jr. (192.761) at Atlanta in March 2010 and Elliott Sadler (195.397) at Texas in November 2010.

* May race at Charlotte: Results | Videos

CHARLOTTE | Chase for the Sprint Cup

1 -- Times a Chase driver did not win the Chase race at Charlotte: Jamie McMurray in 2010.

Side note: Charlotte is just one of two tracks to host a Chase race and not have a Chase driver win: Talladega is the other, and McMurray won the only time it happened there, as well.

1 -- Drivers who have won the Chase race at Charlotte and the championship in the same season: Jimmie Johnson (2009).

Side note: Johnson has won the Charlotte Chase race three times.

4 -- Chase drivers who finished in the top 10 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May: 1. Kevin Harvick; 4. Kurt Busch; 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 10. Denny Hamlin.

Side note: Three Chasers finished outside the top 20: 28. Jimmie Johnson (engine); 31. Ryan Newman; 32. Kyle Busch (crash).

6 -- Chase drivers who have won at Charlotte: Jimmie Johnson (6), Jeff Gordon (5), Kurt Busch (1), Kevin Harvick (1), Matt Kenseth (1) and Tony Stewart (1).

Very Interesting 5 -- Times in the seven years of the Chase the driver leading the point standings following the fifth race has won the championship: Kurt Busch (2004); Tony Stewart (2005); and Jimmie Johnson (2008-10). Charlotte has served as the fifth race in the Chase every year.

Side note: Stewart and Johnson were tied in points after Charlotte in 2005 in a race won by Johnson.

CHARLOTTE MISC. | Nationwide/Cup

1 -- Tracks which have hosted two Nationwide races a year since the series' inception in 1982: Charlotte. This week's race marks the 60th held at CMS.

Side note: Six other tracks have hosted Nationwide races in each year of the series (including 2011): Bristol (59), Dover (56), Richmond (56), Darlington (51), Daytona (40) and Lucas Oil (30).

5 -- Cup Series wins at Charlotte for Jeff Gordon, including the first of his career on May 29, 1994. Gordon was 22 years, 9 months, 25 days, making him the youngest winner in track history, which still stands. Gordon started on the pole in that race. His first career pole occurred at Charlotte on Oct. 8, 1993. He was 22 years, 2 months, 4 days, making him the youngest pole winner in track history, which still stands.

Side note: Gordon also holds the track mark for the youngest pole winner in the Nationwide Series, having done so on May 23, 1992, at 20 years, 9 months, 19 days. Gordon won both series races at CMS that year, both from the pole.

12 -- Drivers who have won Nationwide/Cup races at Charlotte: Bobby Allison (1/6); Jeff Burton (3/3); Dale Earnhardt (3/5); Harry Gant (4/1); Jeff Gordon (2/5); Dale Jarrett (2/3); Terry Labonte (2/1); Kasey Kahne (1/3); Matt Kenseth (3/1); Sterling Marlin (1/1); Mark Martin (6/4); Darrell Waltrip (2/6).

16 -- Late Model Sportsman races held on the day prior to the Cup race at Charlotte (prior to the formation of the now-Nationwide Series. The winners were: Bobby Allison (3), Darrell Waltrip (3), Morgan Shepherd (2), Ray Hendrick (2), David Pearson (1), Ralph Earnhardt (1), Bill DeCoster (1), Wally Dallenbach (1), Dave Marcis (1) and Gary Balough (1).

Very Interesting

676 -- Career Cup Series starts for Dale Earnhardt, the first of which occurred on May 25, 1975, at Charlotte. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also made his first Cup start at CMS, on May 30, 1999.

Side note: Earnhardt, a five-time winner at CMS, finished 22nd in his debut. Junior finished 16th in his debut; his father finished sixth in the same race. In the three races the Earnhardts both competed, father finished higher than son each time; the closest between finishing positions occurred in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600 when Earnhardt finished third and Junior finished fourth.

CHARLOTTE HISTORY | Hall of Fame

3 -- Wins at Charlotte for Cale Yarborough, the last coming on Oct. 6, 1985. He was 46 years, 6 months, 9 days, making him the oldest winner in track history. It also proved to be his last of 83 career wins.

Side note: Bobby Allison holds the mark for oldest pole winner, at age 49 years, 10 months, 6 days, on Oct. 9, 1987. It marked his final career pole. He finished second.

8 -- Races at Charlotte in which Bobby Allison led the most laps, most of any driver. Of Allison's six wins at CMS, he led the most laps in five of them. He's the track's all-time lap leader at 2,339.

Side note: Allison also holds the track record for most laps led by a non-winner at Charlotte: 280 in October 1982. He finished ninth after his engine gave out on Lap 326 of 334.

4 -- Wins at Charlotte for David Pearson, including the first of his Cup career in May 1961. Pearson led 225 of 400 laps in his 31st career start.

Side note: Richard Petty won the first of two qualifier races for that year's 600-miler.

31 -- Top-10s at Charlotte for Richard Petty, most of any driver. Petty is tied with Bobby Allison for most top-fives with 23.

Side note: Petty is one of three drivers who eclipsed 60 starts at CMS: Petty (64), Bill Elliott (62) and Ricky Rudd (61). Mark Martin is the closest active driver with 53 starts.

Very Interesting

17 -- Wins at Charlotte by Hall of Fame drivers in a 22-race period from 1971-81, and 23 of 32 from 1971-86. In the first 24 races in track history, only four were won by Hall of Famers.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile, D-shaped oval with 20 degrees banking in the turns. The frontstretch is 2,275 feet with 9 degrees banking; the backstretch is 1,572 feet with 9 degrees banking. | Tickets

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0 -- Wins at Las Vegas for Ron Hornaday; it's the only track where he has double-digit starts without a victory. Hornaday has five top-fives and seven top-10s in 10 starts, including a best finish of second in 1998.

Side note: Hornaday's series-best 50 wins have come on 30 different tracks.

2 -- Drivers who have scored multiple poles and wins at Las Vegas: Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague, neither of who is active. Both drivers have the same number of poles (3) and wins (2).

3 -- Times in the five races at Vegas since the track was reconfigured to its current layout the winner started on the pole: Mike Skinner (2006), Travis Kvapil (2007) and Austin Dillon (2010). The worst start of a Vegas winner on the current configuration is third.

Side note: In 14 series races, Vegas has been won from the pole six times; the average starting position of the winners is 4.3.

7 -- Races at Vegas in which the final lead change occurred with five laps or fewer remaining, including all three of the track's green-white-checkered finishes.

Side note: There has been one last-lap pass for the win: Todd Bodine passed Ted Musgrave in a G-W-C finish in 2005.

Very Interesting

2 -- Wins in the past two races at Vegas by drivers in the top three in points this season. Third-place Johnny Sauter (-19) won in 2009, his first series victory. Points leader Austin Dillon won last year's race with Sauter finishing second.

Side note: Second-place James Buescher (-3) finished third in last year's race.

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