NASCAR: Joe Gibbs Racing sweep top 3; what were the odds?

Joe Gibbs Racing swept the top three in the random draw for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. What were the odds of that happening?

NASCAR has been utilizing random draws to set the starting lineups for the majority of the races that have been contested since the sport return to action following the 10-week hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday afternoon’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is the ninth Cup Series race on the schedule since the sport returned, and it is the sixth to feature a random draw to set the starting lineup.

The drivers who compete for the charter teams that sit in the top 12 in the owner standings all have an equal chance to draw the pole position and can draw no lower than 12th place. Drivers in positions 13 through 24 draw for positions 13 through 24 and drivers in positions 25 through 36 draw for positions 25 through 36.

The remaining positions (a maximum of four of them, from 37 through 40) are given to the open teams, based on how they line up in the owner standings.

For Sunday afternoon’s race, Joe Gibbs Racing entered with three drivers in the top 12: Martin Truex Jr. in sixth place, Denny Hamlin in seventh and Kyle Busch in ninth. They ended up sweeping the top three in this random draw. Their other driver, Erik Jones, entered the race in 18th place in the championship standings, so he was a non-factor in terms of drawing the pole position. At best, he could draw 13th, and he drew18th.

So what were the odds of a top three Joe Gibbs Racing sweep happening?

Let’s break it down.

The odds of Truex taking the pole were 1/12. The same can be said for Hamlin and Busch. So the odds that one of these three drivers took the pole were 3/12 (simplified to 1/4).

Truex did take the pole. The odds of Hamlin drawing second place were then 1/11, and the same can be said for Busch. So the odds that one of those two drivers took second were then 2/11.

Multiply 1/4 and 2/11 to find that there was a 2/44 (simplified to 1/22) chance of a Joe Gibbs Racing front row sweep.

Hamlin did take second place. Finally, the odds of Busch drawing third place were then 1/10. So multiply 1/22 and 1/10 to find that there was a 1/220 chance of a Joe Gibbs Racing top three sweep.

That comes out to 0.45%.

Sometimes, things just go your way.

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The GEICO 500 is set to be broadcast live from Talladega Superspeedway on Fox beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, June 21.