Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is the CHASE having the OPPOSITE effect?

Wasn't the whole point of the chase to keep a closer championship race longer throughout the season? Is it actually achieving these goals? I realized that this year's points standings would have been much closer going into the final race had they not instituted the Chase. Take a look at the Truck series which has no Chase format, yet the top two drivers are only separated by 3 points going into the final race.

Look at the table below, showing the points separation between the top two drivers going into the final race of the season.

I notice three findings:
  1. How the gap has been increasing every year consistently in the chase (from 18 points to a whopping 141)
  2. The Chase helped meaningfully narrow the points gap in 2 of the 5 races, but otherwise they didn't do much to improve the competition.
  3. Look how this isn't the only year when the Chase standings were actually less competitive then if they had just left the traditional standings alone.


OLD CHASE
2008 56 141



2007 344 86



2006 11 63



2005 282 52



2004 52 18

Friday, November 14, 2008

Richard Petty is trying to steal your money

In the midst of this stock market turmoil, I thought it would be only fair to my readers to find out which drivers are causing the biggest market reactions. Which drivers are good for your wallet, and which ones are bad? Taking data from every race win in the modern era (1972-present) I present the following results.

To understand the data. Ricky Craven has two wins. Following each win the Dow went up .39% and 3.59%. So add that up for a lifetime total of 3.98% and an average of 1.99%.

Best and Worst Dow Jones average performance race winners:
Ricky Craven 1.99%
Dave Marcis -0.57%
Elliott Sadler 1.19%
Martin Truex, Jr. -0.59%
Bobby Hamilton 1.04%
Tim Richmond -0.61%
Steve Park 0.65%
Ron Bouchard -0.64%
Johnny Benson, Jr. 0.63%
Mark Donohue -0.72%
Greg Sacks 0.61%
Ward Burton -0.81%
Kyle Petty 0.56%
Donnie Allison -1.00%
Jeff Burton 0.55%
Dick Brooks -1.03%
Phil Parsons 0.54%
Brett Bodine -1.09%
Denny Hamlin 0.52%
Bobby Isaac -1.19%
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 0.36%
Bobby Hillin, Jr. -2.00%
Sterling Marlin 0.34%
Earl Ross -2.26%

Biggest lifetime accumulated contribution to Dow Jones:
Darrell Waltrip 16%
Neil Bonnett -3%
Jeff Gordon 12%
Jimmie Johnson -4%
Jeff Burton 12%
Tony Stewart -4%
Mark Martin 11%
Donnie Allison -4%
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 6%
Ward Burton -4%
Bobby Labonte 5%
Kevin Harvick -4%
Rusty Wallace 5%
Greg Biffle -5%
Kyle Petty 5%
Benny Parsons -5%
Ernie Irvan 4%
Cale Yarborough -6%
Bobby Hamilton 4%
Carl Edwards -6%
Ricky Craven 4%
Tim Richmond -8%
Elliott Sadler 4%
Richard Petty -20%


The lesson here for this weekend's season finale is don't root for guys like Stewart, Biffle, Harvick, or Edwards. They are killing our economy. We need Earnhardt or Jeff Burton or Denny Hamlin to win. Mainly, we need to get Mark Martin back to fulltime next year so he can boost us all up.

If Jimmie Johnson keeps up his winning pace recently, we are all doomed. We are all better off with Kyle Busch winning races rather than Edwards or Johnson.

If the economy was the #1 issue this election, how come DW didn't get more write-in votes? He clearly has the experience and know-how to get our economy kick-started.

And look at Richard Petty. What a jerk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mark Martin's 2008 Season Standings

Following up from yesterday's post, I am running the season standings for all drivers only in the 24 races Mark competed in. This assumes no adjustment for the Chase.

Notice he got ninth last year and eighth this year, working with second-tier equipment. I can't imagine how good he's going to be with Hendrick next year. Though notice how bad Casey Mears is at #25 with the same equipment. Is that simply because he is a terrible driver?

1 Carl Edwards 3596
2 Jimmie Johnson 3500
3 Kyle Busch 3453
4 Jeff Burton 3220
5 Greg Biffle 3208
6 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 3133
7 Kevin Harvick 3061
8 Mark Martin 3022
9 Matt Kenseth 3020
10 David Ragan 2975
11 Jeff Gordon 2962
12 Tony Stewart 2890
13 Kasey Kahne 2876
14 Clint Bowyer 2839
15 Denny Hamlin 2760
16 Jamie McMurray 2702
17 Brian Vickers 2532
18 Ryan Newman 2521
19 Martin Truex, Jr. 2510
20 Kurt Busch 2499
21 Bobby Labonte 2444
22 David Reutimann 2327
23 Travis Kvapil 2212
24 Elliott Sadler 2203
25 Casey Mears 2191

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mark Martin's 2007 Season Standings

As you probably know, Mark Martin ran a part-time schedule (24 of 36 races) in 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, he ran the first four races of the year before taking his first break, and was leading the points after races 2-4.

I wanted to see what the points standings would look like in Mark's 24 races. Would he have kept up in the points lead even if you only counted the races he competed? If Mark's schedule was in fact the true season for everybody, and there was no Chase adjustment, we'd find the new 24-race standings below.

Considering that he started the year with also-ran Ginn Racing, which folded halfway through the year and got swallowed by another also-ran team, DEI, then being ninth in the standings is a pretty amazing feat.

I'll put up the 2008 equivalent tomorrow.

1 Jeff Gordon 3669
2 Jimmie Johnson 3285
3 Matt Kenseth 3239
4 Carl Edwards 3133
5 Jeff Burton 3104
6 Tony Stewart 3084
7 Clint Bowyer 3033
8 Denny Hamlin 3030
9 Mark Martin 2960
10 Kurt Busch 2932
11 Kyle Busch 2930
12 Martin Truex, Jr. 2892
13 Kevin Harvick 2882
14 Casey Mears 2689
15 Greg Biffle 2549
16 Ryan Newman 2540
17 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2515
18 Bobby Labonte 2371
19 Jamie McMurray 2339
20 J.J. Yeley 2289
21 Juan Pablo Montoya 2246
22 Reed Sorenson 2233
23 Kasey Kahne 2203
24 David Ragan 2184
25 Elliott Sadler 2133

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2008 FLOPPER : Robby Gordon

Evidently, the early adventures in this blog relate to bottom feeding, so let's send our advance congratulations to Robby Gordon, who, with one more race to go, is well on his way to earning the title of 2008's FLOPPER, the driver who Finished with the Least Overall Points while Participating in Every Race.

Michael Waltrip leads him 2840 to 2685, so as long as Gordon starts at Homestead, he will win the coveted FLOPPER award.

Compare all the drivers that started each race of the year, and find the person with the fewest points. That driver is your FLOPPER. Quite a different crowd then the DNF list we saw yesterday. This is a much more exclusive league. You need pinpoint accuracy to find yourself in this spot on the standings: good enough to find a full-time ride and qualify for every race, yet bad enough enough to finish at the bottom of the standings within the rest of your high quality colleagues.

And major kudos go out to Sterling Marlin, who was able to accomplish this feat in three consecutive decades. That takes dedication.

2008 Robby Gordon
2007 David Gilliland
2006 Sterling Marlin
2005 Scott Riggs
2004 Ken Schrader
2003 Casey Mears
2002 Mike Skinner
2001 Brett Bodine
2000 Bobby Hamilton
1999 Jerry Nadeau
1998 Kyle Petty
1997 Sterling Marlin
1996 Darrell Waltrip
1995 Robert Pressley
1994 Greg Sacks
1993 Bobby Hillin, Jr.
1992 Dave Marcis
1991 Rick Wilson
1990 Richard Petty
1989 Dale Jarrett
1988 Dale Jarrett
1987 Harry Gant
1986 Dave Marcis
1985 Jimmy Means
1984 Trevor Boys
1983 Sterling Marlin
1982 Lake Speed
1981 Kyle Petty
1980 JD McDuffie
1979 Frank Warren
1978 Frank Warren
1977 DK Ulrich
1976 Frank Warren
1975 Walter Ballard

Monday, November 10, 2008

DNFs coming down over time (but don't tell Derrike Cope)



I looked each year going back to 1978 to find the driver with the most DNFs in each season. I was mainly curious about who the junkiest driver on the circuit was each year (or perhaps, which team had the junkiest equipment). What I amazingly found was a definite trend over time, where the DNFs have been consistently coming down.

First, some assumptions: in a year with drivers tied for the highest DNFs, I considered the driver with fewest starts, so the highest percentage of DNFs appear in the graph. The trend is the same either way. Notice that even on an absolute basis, there are fewer DNFs (single digits the last few years despite having a full 36 race schedule). Note how many brother pairs that have made it on this list: Bodine, Waltrip, Wallace, and the unrelated brothers Robby and Jeff Gordon.

The full table is below. Oh, and by the way, which drivers have led the series in DNFs the most number of years (including ties)? I don't think anybody will be surprised to see Derrike Cope atop the charts on this one. The all-time leader in garbage performances.

4 Derrike Cope
3 Greg Sacks
2 Geoff Bodine
2 JD McDuffie
2 Jimmy Means
2 Joe Nemechek
2 John Andretti
2 Robby Gordon
2 Todd Bodine

In table below, note that 2008 still has one more race remaining.

Year Driver DNFs Starts Percent
2008 Juan Pablo Montoya 9 35 26%
2007 Ryan Newman 9 36 25%
2007 Joe Nemechek 9 28 32%
2007 David Reutimann 9 26 35%
2006 Robby Gordon 9 36 25%
2005 Robby Gordon 13 29 45%
2004 Todd Bodine 18 21 86%
2004 Kirk Shelmerdine 18 18 100%
2003 Derrike Cope 12 18 67%
2002 Joe Nemechek 10 33 30%
2001 Todd Bodine 12 35 34%
2000 Jeremy Mayfield 11 32 34%
2000 Scott Pruett 11 28 39%
1999 Ricky Craven 10 34 29%
1999 Michael Waltrip 10 34 29%
1999 John Andretti 10 34 29%
1998 Kenny Wallace 12 31 39%
1997 Rusty Wallace 10 32 31%
1996 Darrell Waltrip 11 31 35%
1996 John Andretti 11 30 37%
1996 Derrike Cope 11 29 38%
1995 Greg Sacks 11 20 55%
1994 Geoff Bodine 15 31 48%
1993 Jeff Gordon 11 30 37%
1992 Dave Marcis 14 29 48%
1992 Jimmy Means 14 22 64%
1991 Jimmy Spencer 14 29 48%
1991 Derrike Cope 14 28 50%
1990 Rick Wilson 15 29 52%
1990 Rob Moroso 15 25 60%
1989 Jimmy Means 13 22 59%
1989 Greg Sacks 13 20 65%
1988 Derrike Cope 16 26 62%
1987 Harry Gant 21 29 72%
1986 Morgan Shepherd 15 27 56%
1985 JD McDuffie 15 23 65%
1984 Joe Ruttman 14 29 48%
1984 Greg Sacks 14 29 48%
1983 Tommy Gale 15 28 54%
1983 Geoff Bodine 15 28 54%
1982 Lake Speed 19 30 63%
1981 Kyle Petty 18 31 58%
1980 JD McDuffie 15 31 48%
1979 Dick May 17 20 85%
1978 Neil Bonnett 18 30 60%

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Consistency is Consistent

I took the top 20 drivers in points after the past race in Atlanta.
Then I took a look at those same 20 drivers after the Dover race.
Basically I wanted to see who was the hottest in the last 5 races.

Some interesting results from this experiment:

  1. Jimmie Johnson has checked out. If it weren't for him being so far out ahead, the rest of the Chase guys would actually be very close to each other in a tight battle.
  2. The surprise of David Ragan, who didn't even make the Chase, but is on fire in these 5 races.
  3. The most amazing thing though, with the exception of Ragan, is the Chase drivers are still the best drivers in this snapshot of races. So they were the best 12 guys in the first 26 races of the year, and are essentially the best guys in this set of 5 races I chose to view here. How consistent is that group of 12 over the course of the year? Clearly it must be related to the fact they are the best. I was not expecting to see a repeat of such consistency, that the cream always rises to the top.
Top 20 drivers as of Dover race
Blue indicates Chase Driver


After 33 Races (Atlanta) Last 5 Races After 28 races (Dover)
Jimmie Johnson 6248 868 5380
Jeff Burton 6030 722 5308
David Ragan 3944 717 3227
Greg Biffle 6063 683 5380
Carl Edwards 6065 675 5390
Jeff Gordon 5936 664 5272
Kevin Harvick 5941 652 5289
Clint Bowyer 5934 650 5284
Denny Hamlin 5823 626 5197
Matt Kenseth 5835 612 5223
Kyle Busch 5783 603 5180
Tony Stewart 5847 570 5277
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5829 568 5261
Kurt Busch 3386 553 2833
Jamie McMurray 3304 539 2765
Bobby Labonte 3232 490 2742
Ryan Newman 3495 463 3032
Martin Truex Jr. 3529 462 3067
Kasey Kahne 3720 458 3262
Brian Vickers 3362 375 2987

Welcome to 36 RACES

This is the inaugural post here on 36 RACES. The concept will be to analyze and highlight interesting statistics from NASCAR. This is not a simple list of stats, or a reference database that you can find anywhere. Our goal is to instead use that raw data to identify trends, and ultimately, predict results.

We are just beginning this journey, and we think the quality of our process and the usefulness of our information will gradually improve over time.

We welcome your ideas and suggestions, and look forward to hearing from you.

Our email is 36Races AT gmail DOT com