News & Media

Aumann: Statistically speaking, the 2012 numbers don't lie

November 22, 2012, Mark Aumann,

A look back at the 2012 Cup season, by the facts and figures:

* In the first seven races of the season, Brad Keselowski finished worse than 15th four times. In the final 29 races, he finished worse than 15th only twice.

* For comparison's sake, at 28, Keselowski is one year older than Richard Petty was when he won his first of seven championships -- and one year younger than Dale Earnhardt was when he won his first of seven championships. However, Jeff Gordon already had three titles at that age.

* Keselowski shares two other facts with Petty and Earnhardt. The last Dodge driver to win a championship was Petty in 1975. And the last -- and only other -- driver to win a championship in the No. 2? Earnhardt, in 1980.

* Keselowski is the first champion sponsored by a beer company since Bill Elliott drove a Coors-sponsored car to the title in 1988.

* Keselowski became the first champion to go the entire season without winning a pole position since Matt Kenseth did it in 2003.

* Clint Bowyer's past four victories have come at Talladega, a superspeedway; Sonoma, a road course; Richmond, a short track; and Charlotte, an intermediate track.

* Jimmie Johnson led 1,000 or more laps for the sixth consecutive season. Darrell Waltrip did it seven consecutive years between 1978 and '84, while Cale Yarborough recorded eight in a row beginning in '73. Richard Petty led at least 1,000 laps in 12 consecutive seasons -- but half of those came before the modern era was established (and the schedule drastically shortened) in 1972.

* With five wins and 24 top-10 finishes in 2012, Johnson now has had 11 consecutive seasons of two or more wins and 20 or more top-10s. For comparison, Gordon won at least two races in 14 consecutive seasons but his 10-year streak of 20 or more top-10s was snapped in 2005.

* Johnson finished third in the points for the first time. Combined with his five championships and two runner-up finishes, he has eight top-three championship finishes. That trails Earnhardt's 11 (seven titles, three seconds, one third) and Petty's 15 (seven titles, six seconds, two thirds).

* Kasey Kahne finished 26th or worse in four of his first six races of 2012 -- and during the final 21 races, never finished worse than 25th.

* Kahne led 281 laps in 2012, but didn't lead his first lap until Talladega, the 10th race of the season.

* Greg Biffle was the only driver to be listed as running at the finish in all 36 races, and he led all drivers with 32 lead-lap finishes.

* Biffle had 12 top-fives, but never finished second. He won twice, finished third four times, fourth three times, and fifth three times.

* Gordon's win in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway not only was his 87th career win, but it gave him victories at every track where he's made at least eight career starts. That includes two tracks no longer on the schedule: Rockingham and North Wilkesboro. The only track where Gordon is winless is Kentucky, which has hosted only two Cup races.

* Gordon's 10th-place finish in the points gives him 19 consecutive seasons of finishing no worse than 11th in the standings. That equals Petty's run between 1966 and '84.

* The driver who completed the most laps in 2012? You get a gold star if you knew it was Paul Menard. Menard completed 10,406 laps, eight more than Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick.

* Is there a hex on the driver who finishes second in the standings? It's happened twice to Carl Edwards. After recording 19 top-fives in 2008, Edwards failed to win a race the following season and wound up 11th. After recording 19 top-fives last year, Edwards failed to win a race in 2012 and finished 15th in the points.

* Three drivers -- Casey Mears, David Gilliland and Landon Cassill -- failed to record a top-10 finish despite running in all 36 races. However, Mears led 41 laps, two more than Ryan Newman, who won at Martinsville.

* Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps, 434, without a victory. That was 131 more than the combined total of race winners Marcos Ambrose, Newman and Joey Logano.

* And 2012 will not be remembered fondly by the Busch brothers. Kurt Busch's streak of victories in consecutive seasons was snapped at 10 when he failed to win a race for the first time since his rookie season.

* Younger brother Kyle won once and led 1,436 laps, but had a disappointing season, at least by his standards. That one Cup victory early in the season at Richmond represented his lowest win total over all three national series since he started full time in the Nationwide Series as a 19-year-old in 2004.

* According to Racing Resources, he's failed to win the past nine races where he's led the most laps. It occurred three times in the Chase -- at Dover, Phoenix and Homestead

* However, based on how both brothers finished out the season, 2013 bodes well for the Busches. Kyle recorded four consecutive top-fives in the final four races of the year, while Kurt wound up with three consecutive top-10s, the first time that's been accomplished at Furniture Row Racing.