Thursday, November 15, 2007


The mission is not impossible, but it most certainly is challenging.

For Jeff Gordon to win his fifth NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship, he'll need to overcome an 86-point deficit to standings leader Jimmie Johnson on Sunday, in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For that to happen, Gordon likely will need some luck. Gordon has "out-pointed" Johnson four times this year: At the Daytona 500, the first Texas race, the first Pocono race and at Indianapolis.

Johnson has four DNFs this season. Three came in the aforementioned races.
Gordon has out-pointed Johnson once in the six head-to-head meetings between the two at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- in 2005. Gordon finished ninth that race, while Johnson suffered a DNF and 40th-place finish.
From a look at Loop Data statistics over the past two Homestead races (NASCAR started using scoring loops embedded under the track for statistical purposes in 2005), Gordon has a slight advantage over Johnson. He'll need the gap to widen Sunday afternoon in order to make a historic comeback.
Below are the last two Homestead performances for Gordon and Johnson:
The previous numbers suggest Gordon is more likely to prevail in the race. They also suggest that both have had Homestead struggles. In other words: This championship's not over, by any means.

2007 has been a statistically banner year for Nextel Cup Series drivers.
Going into this weekend's race, 2007 drivers litter the young Loop Data record books. NASCAR started taking Loop Data in 2005. To the right are the season-bests in a few key categories (along with notable rankings from 2007 performances).

To earn top marks in each category:
• Johnson needs a Driver Rating of 25.2 or greater Sunday to stay ahead of Tony Stewart's 2005 performance.
• Johnson needs one more Fastest Lap Run on Sunday.
• Gordon needs an Average Running Position of 2.994 or better on Sunday to catch Tony Stewart's 2005 performance.

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