Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Average Points Per Race in past years

I took into account the full seasons from 1989 through 2003 (before the Chase started). I looked at the top 10 in rankings each season. And came up with these statistics

Rank avg min
max st. dev
1st 148 133 161 7
2nd 143 132 152 6
3rd 139 129 147 5
4th 135 128 140 4
5th 133 127 139 4
6th 130 124 136 4
7th 127 120 134 4
8th 123 119 130 3
9th 122 112 128 4
10th 120 112 124 4

Despite the fineprint below, here's what I find interesting from the data:

  1. For any given ranking, there is a narrow range of PPR you need to accumulate to get there. Want to finish 5th in points? then you need to average about 133 PPR
  2. The standard deviation is consistent about 4 PPR in rankings 4-10, but increases to 5 points for third place, 6 points for second place, and 7 points for the champion. This shows that the domination of the Top 3 drivers is more varied over time, but the 4th-place onward drivers fall within similar bounds.
  3. In every season but one, the champion needed at least 140 PPR to win the title. Only Tony Stewart's 133 PPR in 2002 serves as the exception, but in that year, 7th place scored 127 PPR (historically average for seventh place. Meaning the Top 7 drivers that year were within 6 points per race of each other. Very close and competitive that year.

(Fineprint: Remember that in these seasons, the number of races increased gradually from 29 races in 1989 to 36 races in 2003. And that in the earlier seasons there weren't always full fields. For example the 1989 night race in Bristol only had 32 drivers take the green flag, not the normal 43-car fields we always have now. Also remember that the number of points awarded to race winners compared to now was 10 points less during the period I analyzed.)