Average Run Position: Bristol to Darlington
Recently in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, Martin Truex Jr. made an ideal Chauffeur Ranking, marking the very first time a racer has actually done so in 2021. The last time a chauffeur made an ideal score remained in the 2019 Brickyard 400 with Kevin Harvick, so Truex’s achievement ought to not go unappreciated.
In lots of methods, Truex’s 3rd win of the season kept alive the custom of surprise considering that he stopped working to score a top-five at Darlington in his last 6 starts. Offered how strong Truex has actually remained in 2021, it was not a total surprise, nevertheless. Truex has actually been one of the top performers on a weekly basis. In the past 45 days, Truex made the chart below on four occasions.
The chart lists the top 25 Driver Ratings since the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway and it encompasses the last six events.
Truex also had one of the best Driver Ratings at Martinsville Speedway, which was another of the three races he won this year. His fifth-place finish at Richmond Raceway the following week also came after a solid run that provided back-to-back top-fives,
Truex is one of our examples of why we use this metric to supplement a driver’s finishing position. For the Bristol Dirt race, Truex posted a rating of 126.1, which was second on this chart. He was controlled most of the race before a deflating tire dropped him rapidly through the pack and left him 19th at the checkers.
In the past 45 days, Denny Hamlin has actually the second- and third-best Driver Ratings.
Hamlin’s third-place finish in the Blue Emu 500 at Martinsville and a runner-up result the next week in Richmond earned ratings of 139.8 and 138.5 respectively. In both cases, that indicated Hamlin had perhaps the strongest car in those races, but he failed to capitalize with a victory and remains one three drivers from 2020 with multiple wins still seeking their first of the season.
Hamlin was also strong at Bristol, where his 120.0 ranked third-best for the event. These races were part of a six-race, leading-five streak that ended with crash damage at Talladega Superspeedway. Hamlin makes one other appearance on the chart with a 116.2 last week in Darlington.
Joey Logano’s Bristol dirt track win netted him the fourth-best Driver Rating in the previous 45 days. He makes the chart twice with another strong run at Richmond during that span. Unfortunately, Logano’s efforts in most of the other races since Atlanta Motor Speedway have been forgettable and he is one of the least consistent drivers in the field.
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson round out the top five with identical ratings of 126.8 in the Buschy McBusch 400.
Busch scored the victory in that race and gets the tiebreaker. At the time, we wondered if Busch would carry his momentum forward. The answer is a debatable ‘yes’ because he finished third last week at Darlington. His rating of 107.3 barely makes the top 25 chart listed below.
Larson struggled to find momentum in the past month and a half. The last time we looked at Driver Rating, Larson had the leading mark of 144.8. And that remained the best Chauffeur Rating of the season before Truex’s perfect mark at Darlington.
But after leading the field so often in the early races, Larson slipped.
Early incidents at Bristol and Talladega left him ranked outside the top 15 in Driver Rating. A generally anemic Toyota Owners 400 had us wondering about when his luck might turn around. That happened at Kansas. He finished only 19th in the event, but was challenging for the win until he bump-drafted Ryan Blaney too aggressively and nearly wrecked both cars.
Driver Rating can also confirm a racer’s strength for an event. Daniel Suarez was not highly regarded when NASCAR returned to a dirt track for the first time in 50 years. He shocked the field by posting his first, and currently only, top-10 of the year. Suarez did not luck into the fourth-place finish, however, and his 114.4 was the fourth-best mark in that race.
In total, 13 drivers are listed below with only Truex and Hamlin scoring more than two top ratings.
For the Geico 500 at Talladega, the winner Brad Keselowski is the only driver with a rating that is among the 25 best from the last 6 races. He avoided trouble all day and posted best rating of 117.9.
Chauffeur Ranking, Last 45 Days
FIGHTING AT THE FRONT: LAPS IN THE TOP 15
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.