Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tony Eury Jr replacement showing no statistical improvement for Dale Earnhardt Jr

Did changing crew chiefs make any difference for Dale Earnhardt, Jr?

Tony Eury, Jr. lasted 12 races this season with Dale Jr. Since then, we’ve had another 12 races, making this a perfect time to take another snapshot of his performance. Have results improved at all?

First consider his performance all year, in the table below:

(Remember that Watermills is the basic estimate for performance: Wins + Top 10s + Lead Lap Finishes + Racing at the Finish.)

Let’s take a look at the summary between the two halves of the season so far. Click the image for a bigger version:

At quick glance, it does not appear there have been any improvements. His main improvement has been the increase in lead lap finishes. He’s had a marginal gain in watermills and his average start.

But in these last 12 races, Dale Jr actually has fewer top 10s, more DNFs, fewer points, fewer laps led, and a worse average finish. He’s actually scored the 21st most points in this set of 12 races, so he’s done worse in the standings than earlier this season.

The *one* bright side are the last two races, where he scored consecutive top 10s for the first time all season. Let’s see if that picks up in the final 12 races of the season. So far there isn’t anything else hopeful to point to.

Is it too early to say that the crew chief was not the problem in Dale Jr’s case?

Take a look at the table here on the left.

We see the breakdown of points standings for the first 12 races of the year, and the next 12 races.

See how Earnhardt has been stuck in the same part of the pack, actually dropping down a bit. Guys like Marcos Ambrose, Casey Mears, Joey Logano, and Jamie McMurray have all leapfrogged over him in performance from the first 12 races to the next 12 races.

They have all been able to make adjustments and improve their performance later on in the season. Earnhardt’s team has not shown that capability.

Finally, the table here on the right shows how each driver has improved from the first 12 races to the next 12.

See Earnhardt down there in the lower portion of the pack, one of the drivers who have actually had worse performance in this portion of the season than previous.

In conclusion, the evidence does not suggest replacing Tony Eury, Jr. has improved Earnhardt’s performance. We’ll see if these two most recent top 10s suggest a new trend is coming for the final segment of the season.

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