Crunching The Numbers: 10 Races In

At just under 30% of the season, that is 10 races completed, how do things shake out? Do you wonder how the first 10 races of 2016 compare to the first 10 races of 2016? How about how the drivers fair? I will take you down those roads right now.

Cautions

Caution Location 2015 2016 Change
Backstretch 16 10 -37.5%
Frontstretch 11 8 -27.3%
Track 11 5 -54.5%
Turn 1 11 9 -18.2%
Turn 2 12 25 108.3%
Turn 3 11 9 -18.2%
Turn 4 17 8 -52.9%
Total 89 74 -16.9%

Overall, cautions are down -16.9% compared to this point in time in 2015. The biggest change in cautions comes at Turn 2, where we see over double the number of cautions in 2016 compared to 2015. 2015 saw the cautions spread almost evenly among the entire track.

Caution Location

 

Caution Reason 2015 2016 Change
Accident 37 51 37.8%
Competition 4 2 -50.0%
Debris 27 14 -48.1%
Fluid 7 2 -71.4%
Green/Yellow Start 0 1
Rain 1 0 -100.0%
Spin 13 4 -69.2%
Total 89 74 -16.9%

 

The reason for the cautions coming out has shifted from debris to accidents. We see a +37.8% increase in cautions due to accidents in 2016; but we see a -48.1% decrease in the number of cautions associated with debris. Now, I cannot tell you how many of those cautions were deemed “mystery cautions”, but they seem to be down no matter the way you pain the picture. We had 1 race this season start under green/yellow conditions where last year, we saw 1 caution for rain.

Caution Reason

 

Cautions 2015 2016 Change
Accident Backstretch 7 7 0.00%
Accident Frontstretch 4 5 25.00%
Accident Turn 1 6 8 33.30%
Accident Turn 2 6 19 216.70%
Accident Turn 3 6 6 0.00%
Accident Turn 4 8 6 -25.00%
Competition Track 4 2 -50.00%
Debris Backstretch 8 3 -62.50%
Debris Frontstretch 5 2 -60.00%
Debris Track 3 1 -66.70%
Debris Turn 1 3 1 -66.70%
Debris Turn 2 2 4 100.00%
Debris Turn 3 5 2 -60.00%
Debris Turn 4 1 1 0.00%
Fluid Frontstretch 2 0 -100.00%
Fluid Track 3 1 -66.70%
Fluid Turn 2 1 0 -100.00%
Fluid Turn 3 0 1
Fluid Turn 4 1 0 -100.00%
Rain Track 1 0 -100.00%
Green/Yellow Start Track 0 1
Spin Backstretch 1 0 -100.00%
Spin Frontstretch 0 1
Spin Turn 1 2 0 -100.00%
Spin Turn 2 3 2 -33.30%
Spin Turn 4 7 1 -85.70%
Total 89 74 -16.90%

 

When you put all the caution reasons and locations together, accidents in turn 2 are by far the biggest change between the years, rising +216.7% compared to what we saw in 2015. I guess instead of seeing spins in turn 4 this year, which are down -85.7%, we are getting full on accidents half a track away.

 

Drivers

2015 gave us 61 unique drivers in the first 10 races of the season; 2016 gives us only 48 (that is a -21.3% drop). Most notably absent from 2015 was Kyle Busch; 2016 gives us no Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart was out for the first 8 races of the season.

Best Average Finish
2015: Kevin Harvick (6.6; 2 wins, 1 pole, 7 top 5s, 9 top 10s, and 9 top 15s)
2016: Kevin Harvick (7.4; 1 win, 1 pole, 4 top 5s, 8 top 10s, and 9 top 15s)

Top 5 for Best Average Finish

2015 2016
Position  Finish Wins Finish Wins
1st Kevin Harvick – 6.6 2 Kevin Harvick – 7.4 1
2nd Martin Truex Jr. – 9.0 0 Kyle Busch – 8.3 2
3rd Kurt Busch – 9.14 1 Carl Edwards – 8.7 2
4th Jimmie Johnson – 11.0 2 Jimmie Johnson – 9.3 2
5th Joey Logano – 11.5 1 Joey Logano – 9.9 0

 

We see that Kevin Harvick remains on top of the leader board when it comes to the average finish, while Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano maintain their place in the same place as last year. New contenders in Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards are shaking things up in 2016. It is also key to point out that this year, all drivers in the top 5 have an average finish better than 10th; only 3 showed that strength in 2015.*Kurt Busch only had 7 starts by race 10 of the season

 

Best Average Start
2015
: Joey Logano with an average of 5.8 (3 poles); about 2 positions worse in 2016
2016: Denny Hamlin with an average of 6.9 (0 poles); improvement of about 8 positions over 2015

Top 5 for Best Average Start

2015 2016
Position  Start Poles Start Poles
1st Joey Logano – 5.8 3 Denny Hamlin – 6.9 0
2nd Kevin Harvick – 8.6 1 Joey Logano – 8.1 1
3rd Kurt Busch – 9.29 2 Matt Kenseth – 8.1 0
4th Jeff Gordon – 10.5 3 Carl Edwards – 8.8 2
5th Brad Keselowski – 11.5 0 Austin Dillon – 11.7 1


Teams

Last year, Joey Logano was off to one heck of a start when qualifying came around. While he is still off to a great start in 2016, Denny Hamlin is taking the pole for best average start. Logano remains the sole repeat in the top 5 as 2015.*Kurt Busch only had 7 starts by race 10 of the season

2015 gave us 25 unique teams; 2016 gives us only 20 (that is a -20.0% drop). Most notably absent from 2016 is Michael Waltrip Racing while Circle Sport and Leavine Family Racing have combined forces.

Best Average Finish
2015: Furniture Row Racing with an average finish of 9.0 and no victories (Martin Truex Jr. as the driver)
2016: Team Penske with an average finish of 11.0 and 2 victories (Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as the drivers)

Top 5 for Best Average Finish

2015 2016
Position  Finish Wins Finish Wins
1st Furniture Row Racing – 9.0 0 Team Penske – 11.0 2
2nd Team Penske – 13.0 2 Furniture Row Racing – 12.6 0
3rd Hendrick Motorsports – 15.33 3 Joe Gibbs Racing – 12.7 5
4th Stewart Haas Racing – 15.85 3 Hendrick Motorsports – 13.88 2
5th Chip Ganassi Racing – 17.6 0 Stewart Haas Racing – 15.55

1

 

Believe it or not, Team Penske as a whole is having the best season when it comes to the team average finish; but Joey Gibbs Racing clearly knows how to get those victories. It seems that the big name teams from 2015 are still hanging around in 2016, with the exception of Joe Gibbs Racing gracing the podium with their presence this year. 

Best Average Start
2015
: Team Penske with an average of 8.65 and 3 poles (Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as the drivers)
2016: Joe Gibbs Racing with an average of 9.1 and 3 poles (Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth as the drivers)

Top 5 for Best Average Start

2015 2016
Position  Finish Poles Finish Poles
1st Team Penske – 8.65 3 Joe Gibbs Racing – 9.1 3
2nd Chip Ganassi Racing – 12.2 0 Team Penske – 10.25 1
3rd Joe Gibbs Racing – 13.18 1 Furniture Row Racing – 13.3 0
4th Furniture Row Racing – 13.5 3 Hendrick Motorsports – 13.35 2
5th Hendrick Motorsports – 13.72 3 Richard Childress Racing – 15.17 1

 

Joe Gibbs Racing has clearly improved upon their qualifying efforts in 2016, taking the top spot away from Team Penske. While Chip Ganassi Racing was making waves in 2015, it appears the torch has passed over to Richard Childress Racing as underdogs in the fight for the best team qualifying effort. 

 

As we can see from the data and analysis, some things stayed the same while other things changed drastically. From cautions being down overall and debris cautions being no longer the talk of the town, we might have a new car package to thank for things on track looking better than 1 year ago. It also appears, on the driver side of things, that a changing of the guard is taking place. Normally, Hendrick Motorsports is the talk of the town, but Joe Gibbs Racing is surely making that fight known. It will be interesting to see how the remainder of the season shakes out. In 10 races from now, we could see a big shift, or we could see the same exact picture being painted.

Ashley Hobbs

Birthday: 9 March 1989 (so I do not have to update my age each year)
Location: Florida (Jersey native, born and raised)

What better way to combine 2 of my favorite things, NASCAR and statistics, than providing y'all with an analytical report each weekend during the NASCAR season.

When I am not crunching the numbers, I spend time with my hubby, 3 black cats (Ninja, Daytona, and Chronos), and I watch too much TV, especially Doctor Who. Why yes, I am a geek and proud! So join forces with me and follow my weekly Crunching The Numbers segment. Who knows, I may surprise you!

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