With three Chase races down and seven to go, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson have emerged as strong favorites, with Mark Martin nipping on their heels and Jeff Gordon still lurking in contention.
Championship probability table notes:
1) Obviously the big winner in Kansas was Stewart, as he halved the points gap with Martin, and in doing so doubled his percentage chances of winning the title. What was once a two-man race between Johnson and Martin is now a three-man race that includes Stewart. You can also throw Gordon in there. He still has a great shot at winning the title, despite his lower standing in the points.
2) Is it any coincidence that three of the greatest drivers of this generation have won the first three Chase races? This part of the year is when the best rise to the top, and we are seeing that again. No surprise to see Gordon right there with the three race winners.
3) Juan Pablo Montoya is the only driver with top fives in each of the three Chase races. However, he only had two top fives in the first 26 races, so it is unclear how hot he can stay in the final seven. Remember, the probability table is based on past finishes predicting future results. If Montoya does keep getting top fives, obviously his percentage chances will keep growing on this table.
4) Martin and Johnson's top 10 runs didn't do much to help or hurt their causes; it kept them in as much contention as before.
5) We can now add Brian Vickers to our list of "his chance is so low we need to go past the decimal point to show it." Congrats on showing everybody your place in the Chase was indeed a fluke.
(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is the creator of the Watermill Score and edits the racing statistics blog 36 Races. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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