Saturday, June 6, 2015

Who said there was no passing in NASCAR?

   You hear a lot of complaints this season about the difficulty or the lack of passing in NASCAR races.

   But the statistics don't match the rhetoric, although they don't tell the whole story.

   Through the first 13 Sprint Cup Series races of the 2015 season, there have been 55,701 green-flag passes for position on the track. That's the second-highest total through 13 races since the inception of NASCAR's "loop data" in 2005.

   Granted, loop data have not been around forever, but there is now more than a decade worth of data from which to compare - that's certainly a significant sample size.

   So, there is passing on the track. But perhaps the more important question is, where does it take place?

   Through the same 13 races there have been 376 green-flag passes for the lead on the track - that's just the fifth-highest total since 2005. In other words, passes for the lead this season are about average for the last 10 years. 

   Part of the problem is those passes are generally the ones most fans pay the most attention to, and remember. Also, passes for the lead get more attention on TV and radio broadcasts. So, if there are fewer actual passes for the lead, the perception can come across there is less passing in general taking place in the race. 

  The statistics show, however, that's simply not the case.

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