A shot in a million never seen in NASCAR

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Lightning and NASCAR have been frustratingly intertwined this summer, resulting in numerous race delays, but who could have imagined their connection with one person?

The probability of finishing five consecutive third places for Martin Truex Jr. is almost equal to the odds a person has of being struck by lightning in any given year.

According to Jeremy Losak, an assistant professor at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics in Syracuse, the odds of Truex scoring a third place in a row for third in a row were 1 million to one. University.

The odds of being stranded by lightning in any given year are 1 in 1.2 million, according to the National Weather Service.

Never in the history of NASCAR has a driver finished in third place for five consecutive races.

This does not impress Truex.

“Looks like third place is exactly where we are now,” he said with a hint of disdain after last weekend’s race at the Daytona road circuit.

Team manager James Small calls the third place “frustrating” because the team has come so close to winning.

However, he tries to console himself. Small note that finishing third is “better than fourth. It’s better than crashing.

But then he adds, “It’s not fun.”

Martin Truex Jr., featured in the Daytona road race, has spent more than a month since finishing in a position other than third in a Cup race. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images)

Truex’s streak nearly ended on August 8 in Michigan’s first race, which marked its third straight third place finish. He was eighth when overtime resumed. Truex passed five cars in the first overtime lap but was unable to gain any further positions in the last lap. He finished behind winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Brad Keselowski.

Truex will have a chance to break the streak – or extend it for a sixth straight race – on Saturday at Dover International Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The odds of Truex finishing third in each of those six races are 23.5 million to 1, said Losak, who determined the odds for NBC Sports.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 302 million to 1. Compared to that, there is a good chance that Truex will finish third again on Saturday.

No matter how long Truex’s run, she’ll be a part of Losak’s sports data and analytics class in Syracuse.

“I’ll probably show (the students) this as an example of how to do this sort of thing,” he says.

Losak discovered the odds with the help of a teaching assistant, who provided research. Losak, used DraftKings ratings on pilots, examined historical data, wrote code, and ran 100 million simulations to determine ratings.

“The more simulations I do, the more accurate the number,” Losak told NBC Sports. “Given the likelihood of an event happening, if I didn’t do enough simulations, you would have a bunch of times that would happen zero times. So I had to run the simulation enough times to get to specific times. ”

Losak noted that Truex’s odds are better than most pilots because Truex has a better record. Most drivers, Losak noted, would have about a 4 million chance of placing third in five consecutive races. Losak also said that for these drivers, they would have 85.7 million a chance of finishing third in those six straight races.

“I like to do stuff like that,” Losak said. “It’s just fun playing with the data.”

Truex will save his fun for when he returns to Victory Lane.

2. Personal changes

Noah Gragson has suffered a lot on the track this season. He had an altercation with his teammate Justin Allgaier, a fight with Harrison Burton and contact with Riley Herbst and Myatt Snider. But it is on the track that Gragson has focused recently.

“I’ve kind of made a lot of changes in my personal life over the last week and a half, two weeks,” said Gragson after his third place finish last weekend on the Daytona road course. “I’m just trying to clean things up on my end, not even on the race track, I’m just trying to be in better headspace when I get to the track.”

Asked what he specifically did to achieve this, Gragson said:

“I’m just trying to focus on my priorities and focus on what will improve me for our team at JR Motorsports and how I apply myself more. Whether it’s friendships that aren’t exactly the best that bring drama into my life or just different things, I just try to eliminate those options.

“I spent a lot of time at home alone, doing nothing, studying movies, playing Xbox and going to the store. … Trying to clean up my friends, trying to clean up stuff that brings extra drama to my life, things the less I can think about during the day, the better I can be on the track. There are a lot of things going through my mind right now.

Gragson enters this weekend’s double Xfinity Series championship at Dover, third in points with wins in the season opener at Daytona and Bristol. He’s heading into Saturday’s race (12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with top-10 finishes over the past two weeks.

3. Choose your path

The rule of choice returns this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

The rule, which was tried in the Bristol All-Star Race, and used in Michigan earlier this month, will be in effect the remainder of the season, except at the Charlotte Roval and at the Daytona and Talladega races.

The rule allows drivers to choose whether to restart in the inner lane or the outer lane. Chase Elliott used it to take over Michigan. He was fifth in a row but the first four cars went into the outside lane, so he took the inside lane and restarted next to leader Kevin Harvick. Elliott passed Harvick and led nine laps. Harvick regained the lead and won the first of two races this weekend. Elliott fell seventh.

For all the preparation teams that might be wondering which route to choose based on what the other drivers are doing, William Byron says it’s not that hard to know what to do.

“I think Dover is pretty even on the choice of path,” he said. “I know the bottom lane doesn’t accelerate as well in the restart zone. So if you might be second, you can choose to restart the fourth (row 2 of the outside lane) instead of the inside second. I think everything is just felt and how your car behaves. Obviously, engineers can try to do science the best they can. But in general, only common sense plays into a rule like this for sure. “

4. Looking to the future

Car owner Jack Roush explained to reporters this week what he liked about the changes this season and one thing in particular that could be better for owners.

Roush is a fan of one-day racing, echoing the feelings of others including Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and Brad Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.

“We have shown that we can do one-day runs and that there might be a chance to go to a place that we hadn’t planned to go to and that might not have enough hotel room capacity, ”Roush said. “There are some other things that would tend to rule out having one of our Cup events so I think maybe we can do one day races, that will be fun.

He also noticed another change that he liked.

“The only thing that comes from the short tracks that I had never experienced before, but the choice or the opportunity to make each car and each driver make a choice whether they want to start indoors or in the outside (on a restart)… it’s an interesting dimension of strategy and consideration which I think makes racing more exciting for me, ”said Roush.

Of the challenges owners face, Roush said, “NASCAR is able to take a look at most of the funds that go into the sport and what it takes to run racetracks or their affiliations with racetracks, what it takes for the company their organizational work. I’m not the person to comment to either, but for the money that’s being split between the teams, it’s not enough to make things very interesting from a business perspective. “

5. Not synchronized

If Kyle Busch doesn’t win either of the two Cup races at Dover this weekend, it will be the first time in his Cup career that he fails to win by Race 26 in one season.

Busch has claimed victory in the last 45 races. The victory came in Miami in last season’s finale, giving Busch his second career series title. Meanwhile, Busch teammates Joe Gibbs Racing have scored 15 wins. Busch has 56 career Cup wins, one ahead of Kevin Harvick.

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