UPDATED CHAMPIONSHIP PROBABILITY TABLE: ONLY THREE DRIVERS CAN CATCH JOHNSON

With a win in Charlotte on Saturday, Jimmie Johnson has taken a commanding lead in his quest to win a fourth straight title.


1) Johnson has scored three wins in the last four races.  In each of those wins, he also earned bonus points for leading the most laps.
 
2) The top four drivers, all in Hendrick-powered equipment, now have a more-than 99 percent chance of winning the championship.  That’s up from 94 percent last week.

3) Mark Martin and Tony Stewart, by finishing outside the top 10, each lost 12 percent from their title chances.

4) Kurt Busch’s crew chief Pat Tryson might leave the team early if it is out of the title hunt.  I wonder if having less than a 1 percent chance counts as being out.

5) We now have four drivers with zero chance of winning the title.  Bad nights from Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin knocked them out.  Good luck next year.

6) The previous item is being generous, because I technically haven’t eliminated Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle. But their combined chance of winning is about one in a thousand.  Most likely all three of them will be eliminated after the next race at Martinsville.

7) The question now is can Martin, Stewart or Jeff Gordon come back to top Johnson?  There is a lot of racing left, and freak accidents happen at Martinsville and Talladega, so maybe they can make up lost ground if Johnson suffers bad luck. 

8) Remember back to the summer, with 6 races to go before the Chase started, Brian Vickers only had a six percent chance of making it in.  He rolled off a great stretch of performances and qualified.  That means the three guys behind Johnson still have a shot at getting it done.

9) For a refresher on how probability is determined, go here.

(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is the creator of the Watermill Score and the FLOPPER Award and edits the racing statistics blog 36 Races. E-mail him at 36races@gmail.com.)

Related links:
Winning in NASCAR is like counting cards
Chase bonus points are meaningless
Jimmie Johnson has most points at Chase tracks this season
The Watermill Score: How to win a Sprint Cup title
Replacing crew chiefs has not helped Dale Earnhardt Jr.