Identifying Each NASCAR Driver's Favorite Track

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst IJune 14, 2013

Identifying Each NASCAR Driver's Favorite Track

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    Of the nearly two dozen tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule, just about every driver seems to have a favorite.

    Whether it fits their driving style, their team's strengths or just seems to be a lucky track for them, there's usually one track that stands out on every driver's mind each year.

    For the following 24 Sprint Cup drivers, sorted here by car number, these are those standout tracks.

#1 Jamie McMurray: Charlotte

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    He may be a Daytona 500 winner, but Jamie McMurray's finest moments have been made at Charlotte.

    As an unheralded replacement driver for the injured Sterling Marlin, he won only the second race of his Cup career at Charlotte in 2002. During his fantastic 2010 season, which saw him win at Daytona and Indianapolis, McMurray capped the season off with a victory at Charlotte in October.

#2 Brad Keselowski: Kentucky

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    It's a relatively new track to the Sprint Cup schedule, so Brad Keselowski's average finish of 4.0 in two starts (with a win last year) may not be a perfect indicator.

    But add in his Nationwide results—one win and five top-10s in five starts, with an average finish of 3.6—and it should be clear why the defending Sprint Cup champion will attempt to run all three Kentucky events later this summer.

#5 Kasey Kahne: Charlotte

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    Rockingham notwithstanding, Kasey Kahne is about as good as it gets at NASCAR's de facto home track in Charlotte. He's won three Coca-Cola 600s, including last year, as well as the fall race in 2006 to complete a sweep of that season. Kahne's lone DNF at Charlotte came in the fall of 2004, in a race where he had led 207 laps before crashing out.

#9 Marcos Ambrose: Watkins Glen

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    Marcos Ambrose, a two-time V8 Supercars champion in his native Australia, has six career NASCAR wins in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series; unsurprisingly, all six are on road courses. Five are at Watkins Glen, a track somewhat reminiscent of those that he won at before coming to America.

#10 Danica Patrick: Daytona

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    In each of the past two years, Danica Patrick has opened her season with a pole position, in Nationwide last year and Sprint Cup this year. She ran up front for the majority of this year's Daytona 500, remaining in contention for the win until the very end of the race.

#11 Denny Hamlin: Richmond

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    Denny Hamlin has an average finish in the single digits at six tracks, including Darlington (best of the bunch at 5.4), Loudon (where he took a Chase victory last year), and Martinsville (one of two tracks where he has four wins).

    But Richmond holds a special place for Hamlin as his home track; not only does he have two wins and nine top-10s in 14 starts, he also stages an annual late-model race before the track's April Sprint Cup race.

#14 Tony Stewart: Indianapolis

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    The 1997 Indy Racing League champion dreamed of winning the Indianapolis 500 while growing up. He hasn't achieved that dream (yet, if you want to be optimistic), but his two victories in the Brickyard 400 have served as a fine consolation prize. Tony Stewart's first victory came in the midst of his 2005 championship season; the second came in 2007.

#15 Clint Bowyer: Sonoma

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    A dirt-track racer from Kansas doesn't seem like the ideal candidate to do well on a road course, but Bowyer usually performs really well at Sonoma. With a 9.7 average finish, it's his second-best track (to Richmond) in that category; with five top-10s in seven starts, including a victory last year, he's almost always money there.

#16 Greg Biffle: Michigan

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    Roush Fenway Racing cars usually do well at the larger ovals, such as Michigan and Fontana. Greg Biffle has four wins combined at those two tracks, three of which have come at Michigan. He won at the track last fall, on the way to "winning" the regular-season points standings.

#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Kansas

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    As a Sprint Cup rookie, it's hard to tell where Ricky Stenhouse is going to shine as his career moves forward. But the best finish of his 19-race Cup career, so far, came at Kansas last year, where he came home 11th, and his 4.0 average finish in three Nationwide starts there might be another indicator.

#18 Kyle Busch: Richmond

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    It's hard to choose between Bristol and Richmond for where Kyle Busch is better; he has five wins at Bristol to four at Richmond, but Richmond gets the edge because it yields the better average finish (6.5 to 9.8). In 17 starts, Busch has 13 top-10s, 12 of which were also top-five finishes.

#20 Matt Kenseth: Texas

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    After 13 years at Roush Fenway Racing, Matt Kenseth's best tracks statistically are mostly the ones where all Roush drivers do well. Texas may be the best of them all; in 22 starts, he has 15 top-10s and hasn't finished outside of the top 20 since 2000. Before finishing 12th this spring, Kenseth had scored five consecutive top five finishes there.

#22 Joey Logano: Charlotte

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    With only two wins in his Sprint Cup career, Joey Logano doesn't really have a go-to track for success. He's only led three laps at Charlotte in nine career starts there. That being said, his six top-10s in nine starts there prove that he's reliable enough to get a decent points finish.

#24 Jeff Gordon: Martinsville

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    In 41 Martinsville starts, Jeff Gordon has seven wins, 26 top-fives, 33 top-10s and seven poles. That's good enough to win a championship in most Cup seasons.

#29 Kevin Harvick: Chicagoland

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    Kevin Harvick only has a sub-10th average finish at one track—Homestead—but he has no victories there. And while Harvick hasn't won at Chicago since sweeping the track's inaugural two events in 2001 and 2002, he has six top-fives in 12 starts.

#34 David Ragan: Talladega

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    The only two wins of David Ragan's Cup career, so far, have come on superspeedways, including an incredibly popular underdog victory at Talladega earlier this season. Front Row Motorsports isn't a spectacular team, but when they head to restrictor-plate tracks, they're almost always a front-runner.

#39 Ryan Newman: New Hampshire

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    From the very start of Ryan Newman's career, he's been fast at Loudon. He took the first of his three victories from the pole in fall 2002, as well as leading at least one lap in 11 of his first 12 starts. It's part of the reason why he usually runs in the modified races there every Sprint Cup race weekend.

#42 Juan Montoya: Richmond

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    Obviously, an ex-Formula 1 driver should be a star on road courses, but Juan Montoya is also respectable at shorter tracks with intensive braking.

    He showed it at Dover just weeks ago, and he showed it the same way at Richmond earlier in the year by leading 67 laps on the way to his first top-five of the season. Had he not gotten wrecked by Ryan Newman in spring 2011, he may have won there from the pole.

#48 Jimmie Johnson: Anywhere

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    I can't add any insight here that isn't self-evident to any NASCAR fan from the past decade. Jimmie Johnson is good everywhere. (And you're probably sick of hearing about it anyway.)

#55 Mark Martin: Phoenix

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    A symbol of consistency throughout his decades-long career, Mark Martin has average finishes of 15th or better at 21 current and defunct Cup tracks. Of the tracks that haven't closed down or disappeared from his limited schedule, Phoenix produces the best results—two wins and 21 top-10s in 33 starts, as well as poles in each of the past two March races.

#56 Martin Truex Jr.: Dover

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    Besides being Martin Truex Jr.'s home track (he's a New Jersey native), the lone Sprint Cup win of his career, so far, came at Dover in 2007. He led a dominant 216 of 400 laps in coming from the 26th starting position and eventually earned the first Chase berth of his career later that season.

#78 Kurt Busch: Bristol

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    The Busch brothers' dominance at Bristol started when Kurt won his first Cup race there in the spring of his sophomore season in 2002. From there, he won three more races in a row from 2003 to 2004 and threw in a fifth win for good measure in 2006. Earlier this season, Busch earned a fourth-place finish in his first race there with Furniture Row Racing.

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Michigan

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    Both of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s wins with Hendrick Motorsports, thus far, have come at the two-mile oval that the Sprint Cup Series will visit this weekend. Since 2006, Earnhardt Jr. has become a constant threat at Michigan, earning six top-fives and eight top-10s in 14 starts.

#99 Carl Edwards: Homestead

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    Carl Edwards is incredible in the final race of the season, posting an average finish of 6.0 in nine career Homestead starts. He's won the race twice, in 2008 and 2010, adding poles in 2005 and 2011 and never finishing worse than 14th (in his 2004 track debut).

    For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.


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