Driver Handicaps: Michigan

Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth

Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are first and second, respectively, in average finish in the last 10 races at Michigan. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages |  Loop Data eBook (pdf) Driver Ratings Past Winners

To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Jeff Wackerlin brings you his weekly detailed analysis to help steer you toward Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Who's HOT at Michigan
• Greg Biffle, who holds the best driver rating, scored his third win last August.
• Two-time winner Carl Edwards leads all drivers with an 8.2 average finish.
• Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has posted a 2.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface.
• Clint Bowyer is the only driver that has finished in the top 10 in the last four races.
• Tony Stewart has finished ninth or better in five of his last six starts.
• Two-time winner Matt Kenseth - making first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing - has only finished outside the top 15 four times in 27 starts.
• Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski have each finished in the top five in two of their last three starts.
• Five-time winner Mark Martin - who led 54 laps last August - leads all drivers with 31 top 10s.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Michigan
• Kasey Kahne will be driving the same car he finished second with at Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
• Marcos Ambrose (7.0), Martin Truex Jr. (11.0), Ryan Newman (11.5) and Kevin Harvick (13.0) each rank in the top 10 in average finish among drivers that have competed in the last two races on Michigan's newly paved track surface. 
• Kyle Busch has the most wins (2) and has led the most laps (227) in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).
• Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne tested at Michigan last month.
• Joey Logano (led 41 laps) and Denny Hamlin both battled for the win at Auto Club Speedway in March before making contact on the final lap. Both also ranked second and third, respectively, in average running position throughout that race.
• Jeff Gordon has finished sixth or better in five of the last eight Michigan races.

Note: Sprint Cup teams will run the same combination of left- and right-side Goodyear tires they ran last August at Michigan. This is also the same tire setup Cup teams have run in the last two races at Kansas Speedway.

Be sure to check back with MotorRacingNetwork.com on Friday and Saturday for the practice speeds.

Michigan Qualifying Facts

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Jeff Gordon - 5
1. Jimmie Johnson - 8.8
Pole - 16 times
2. Bobby Labonte - 4
2. Jeff Gordon - 11.1
Top Five - 52 times
3. Five drivers with 2
3. Kasey Kahne - 11.2
Top 10 - 66 times
4. Six drivers with 1  4. Ryan Newman - 11.4
Top 15 - 74 times
5. Mark Martin - 11.7
Worst - 32nd, one time

* - Must be entered in the Quicken Loans 400.

*Best Average Finish at Michigan

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Dale Earnhardt Jr./Greg Biffle
2.5
Four Races
Clint Bowyer 
7.5
Six Races
Matt Kenseth
8.5
Eight Races
Greg Biffle
9.8
10 Races
Carl Edwards
8.9

* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Gen-6 Car Performers (14 Races)

Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
1. Jimmie Johnson - 3
1. Jimmie Johnson - 7
1. Jimmie Johnson - 9
Matt Kenseth - 3
2. Kyle Busch - 6
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 9
2. Kevin Harvick - 2
3. Kasey Kahne - 5
2. Brad Keselowski - 8
Kyle Busch - 2
Brad Keselowski - 5
Kyle Busch - 8
3. Four drivers with 1
Carl Edwards - 5
3. Four drivers with 7
Laps Led
Average Finish
Poles
1. Kyle Busch - 955
1. Jimmie Johnson - 8.1
1. Denny Hamlin - 3
2. Matt Kenseth - 922 
2. Carl Edwards - 11.1
2. Kyle Busch - 2
3. Jimmie Johnson - 726
3. Clint Bowyer - 11.9
Matt Kenseth - 2 
4. Kasey Kahne - 386
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 12.8
3.  Four drivers with 1
5. Denny Hamlin - 203
5. Kevin Harvick - 13.8

Michigan Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2012, 16 Races)

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Greg Biffle
1. Greg Biffle
1. Greg Biffle - 8.3
2. Matt Kenseth
2. Carl Edwards
2. Carl Edwards - 10.3
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jimmie Johnson - 10.3
4. Carl Edwards
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth - 10.4
5. Mark Martin
5. Matt Kenseth
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 12.5
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Greg Biffle - 2677
1. Carl Edwards - 790
1. Greg Biffle - 108.9
2. Carl Edwards - 2573
2. Greg Biffle - 769
2. Matt Kenseth - 105.5
3. Matt Kenseth - 2512
3. Matt Kenseth - 716
3. Carl Edwards - 105.2
4. Jimmie Johnson - 2392
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 697
4. Jimmie Johnson - 104.2
5. Tony Stewart - 2269
5. Tony Stewart - 648
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 97.1

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


For a look at all the pre-race Loop Data for Michigan, view the Quicken Loans 400 Pre-Race Loop Data eBook (pdf)

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Matt Kenseth
1. Matt Kenseth
1. Jimmie Johnson - 6.5
2. Kyle Busch
2. Brad Keselowski
2. Matt Kenseth - 7.6
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Clint Bowyer - 11.9
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Kyle Busch
4. Kyle Busch - 12.1
5. Kasey Kahne
5. Kevin Harvick
5. Kevin Harvick - 12.4
Laps in Top 15--
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jimmie Johnson - 4018
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 765
1. Matt Kenseth - 114.7
2. Matt Kenseth - 4008
2. Martin Truex Jr. - 721
2. Jimmie Johnson -114.3
3. Kevin Harvick - 3932
3. Kurt Busch - 715
3. Kyle Busch - 105.4
4. Clint Bowyer - 3586
4. Joey Logano - 711
4. Kasey Kahne - 99.2
5. Kasey Kahne - 3391
5. Clint Bowyer - 709
5. Kevin Harvick - 95.4

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


MotorRacingNetwork.com Writer Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kasey Kahne
Pete Pistone: Jeff Gordon
Dustin Long: Kasey Kahne
John Singler: Jimmie Johnson

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Michigan unless noted)

Jimmie Johnson: 16.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; One of five tracks on the schedule that he has yet to win at; 15.2 average finish in 22 starts; Fifth-place finish in this event was fourth top five; Led 23 laps last August until an engine issue; 11.2 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).

Carl Edwards: 8.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Last of two wins came in the 2008 August race; Sixth-place finish last August is 13th top 10 in 17 starts; Finished Fourth in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; 12.4 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 854) in the Quicken Loans 400.

Clint Bowyer: Tied for the second-best best average finish (7.0) in the two races on the new track surface; Has finished in the top 10 in his last four starts; Finished seventh in two starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 758) that he last finished fifth with at Kansas Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Defending race winner; Tied for the best average finish (2.5) in the two races on the new track surface; 10.7 average finish in 10 starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 4.8 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same chassis (No. 716) that he raced to the win last June; This car last finished seventh in the All-Star Race.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2010 August race; 13.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; 13.0 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 378) that he finished 11th with in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Matt Kenseth: 10.0 average finish (9.6 overall in 27 starts) in the two races on the new track surface; Last of two wins came in the 2006 August race; Making first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing; Led 10 laps and finished seventh in first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; 10.6 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).

Kyle Busch: Winner of the 2010 August race; 22.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; 13.8 average finish in 10 starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Led 125 laps en route to the win in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; 9.8 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).

Kasey Kahne: 18.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; An accident in this event last year relegated him to a 33rd-place finish in his first track start with Hendrick Motorsports; Finished ninth in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; 13.2 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 793) that he finished second with at Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway (led 161 laps).

Brad Keselowski: 7.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Coming off second top five in last three starts; 11.8 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 841) that he finished sixth with at Kansas Speedway.

Greg Biffle: Coming off third win in 20 starts; Tied for the best average finish (2.5) in the two races on the new track surface; Finished sixth in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; 7.4 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club). Will return in the same car (chassis No. 817) that he finished 15th with in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon: Engine issues last August snapped streak of two consecutive sixth-place finishes; Has finished sixth or better in five of the last eight races; 17.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Last of two Michigan wins came in this race in 2001.

Paul Menard: Coming off second top 10 in four starts with Richard Childress Racing; Only top 10 (fourth) in 13 starts came in this event in 2011; 15.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Finished eighth in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 427) in the Quicken Loans 400.

Tony Stewart: 10.6 average finish in eight starts with Stewart-Haas racing; An engine issue last August snapped streak of consecutive top 10s at five races; 17.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; 13.2 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club). Will return in the same car (chassis No. 735) that he last finished seventh with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Aric Almirola: 18.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 843) that he last finished seventh with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch: 30.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Last of two wins came in the 2007 August race with Penske Racing; Finished fifth in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; Tested last month at Michigan; Marking first track start with Furniture Row Racing.

Joey Logano: 19.6 average finish in eight starts; 33.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Led 41 laps and finished third in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; Will make first track start with Penske Racing driving a new car (chassis No. 844) in the Quicken Loans 400.

Martin Truex Jr: Coming off second top 10 in six starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; 11.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; 13.4 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club).

Ryan Newman: 11.5 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Finished 10th in the first race on a two-mile speedway (Auto Club) with the Gen-6 car; 9.0 average finish in the last five races on two-mile speedways (Michigan and Auto Club); Will return in the same car (chassis 760) that he finished 38th with at Las Vegas Motor Speedway due to an expired engine; This car was tested last month in a wind tunnel.

Jamie McMurray: 14.0 average finish in the two races on the new track surface; Has yet to finish in the top 10 in six starts driving an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Making first Sprint Cup track start; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 814) that he last finished 25th with at Martinsville Speedway.

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Untitled Document Michigan Driver Stats - Last 16 Races

Driver Race Avg Start Avg Finish Driver Rating
Greg Biffle 20 13.3 11.8 108.9
Matt Kenseth 27 18.3 9.6 105.5
Carl Edwards 17 21.1 8.2 105.2
Jimmie Johnson 22 8.8 15.2 104.2
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 27 15.0 14.8 97.1
Tony Stewart 28 19.4 11.9 95.9
Jeff Gordon 40 11.1 11.7 94.7
Denny Hamlin 14 14.5 13.6 93.7
Kyle Busch 16 15.0 16.4 92.9
Kurt Busch 24 12.8 21.4 89.5
Kasey Kahne 18 11.2 15.7 88.2
Mark Martin 54 11.7 14.0 87.7
Martin Truex Jr. 14 13.4 16.6 83.1
Kevin Harvick 24 18.1 14.8 82.9
Clint Bowyer 14 18.4 16.7 81.4
Brad Keselowski 7 23.1 18.3 79.0
Ryan Newman 23 11.4 17.7 76.5
Joey Logano 8 18.6 19.6 75.2
Jeff Burton 38 19.6 16.6 73.4
David Ragan 12 24.4 18.2 72.9
Jamie McMurray 20 24.7 19.0 69.8
Juan Montoya 12 18.3 22.2 69.8
Aric Almirola 2 28.0 18.5 69.4
David Reutimann 11 18.0 20.3 69.1
A J Allmendinger 10 25.1 21.0 68.3
Marcos Ambrose 9 22.4 22.6 68.2
Casey Mears 19 24.2 22.7 66.8
Austin Dillon 1 22.0 24.0 65.1
Paul Menard 13 25.2 22.1 63.4
Trevor Bayne 4 12.5 26.8 57.1
Bobby Labonte 41 16.1 17.0 56.3
Travis Kvapil 12 30.5 24.7 53.4
Ken Schrader 47 21.1 20.7 49.4
David Stremme 10 29.4 30.4 48.2
Dave Blaney 24 28.5 26.5 47.6
Scott Riggs 13 27.0 26.8 47.4
Mike Bliss 7 25.1 34.0 46.7
David Gilliland 13 33.3 29.6 46.2
Joe Nemechek 38 22.1 28.1 46.0
J.J. Yeley 9 29.4 36.6 44.7
Josh Wise 2 32.0 41.0 32.6
Michael McDowell 4 35.3 40.0 31.1
Danica Patrick 0 - - -
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0 - - -
Paythefan
Michigan Green Flag Passes

Number of passes a driver had under green conditions in the last 16 races at Michigan.

Rank Driver Green Flag Passes
1 Jamie McMurray 1441
2 Kevin Harvick 1316
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1313
4 Jeff Burton 1274
5 Kasey Kahne 1208
6 Paul Menard 1178
7 Carl Edwards 1162
7 Martin Truex Jr. 1162
9 Greg Biffle 1143
9 Ryan Newman 1143
11 Kyle Busch 1121
12 Matt Kenseth 1112
13 Tony Stewart 1095
14 Clint Bowyer 1085
15 A J Allmendinger 1055
16 Jeff Gordon 1026
17 Jimmie Johnson 1019
18 Mark Martin 1017
19 Denny Hamlin 986
20 Casey Mears 984
21 Bobby Labonte 979
22 David Ragan 917
23 Juan Pablo Montoya 894
24 David Reutimann 870
25 Kurt Busch 848
26 Elliott Sadler 839
27 Travis Kvapil 834
28 Michael Waltrip 779
29 Brian Vickers 765
30 David Gilliland 758
31 Marcos Ambrose 719
32 Joey Logano 690
33 Sam Hornish Jr. 647
34 Regan Smith 637
35 Brad Keselowski 632
36 Dave Blaney 609
37 Joe Nemechek 587
38 David Stremme 581
39 Scott Riggs 529
40 J.J. Yeley 353
41 Trevor Bayne 339
42 Scott Speed 331
43 Landon Cassill 316
44 Ken Schrader 302
45 Aric Almirola 189
46 Mike Bliss 187
47 Terry Labonte 124
48 Jason Leffler 90
49 Austin Dillon 56
50 Michael McDowell 51
51 Josh Wise 9
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