Did Stage Racing Produce More Cautions Because Drivers Raced Harder?
One of the theories behind stage racing is that drivers would race harder to get stage points. That should theoretically be reflected by the number of cautions. Cautions appear to be up in 2017. Are they? And can we attribute the change to stage racing? Let’s go to the data. […]
Can NASCAR Stop Secondary Accidents?
January is named after the Roman God Janus, who is the god of beginning, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages and endings. How’s that for a job description? Janus is usually portrayed as having two faces: one looks forward and one looks backward. So I thought January might be a good […]
Did Drivers Drive Differently During the Chase? I: Lead Changes
The primary motivation for all the changes to the Chase format was to up the excitement factor – the “game seven moments” as NASCAR brass put it. While the fact of the matter is that you can’t guarantee excitement, all the machinations put in place definitely increased the stakes of […]
Will the Gen-6 Car Affect the Number of Cautions?
I love the Gen-6 car. Not as much as I love the Nationwide cars (but that’s got more to do with what I drive than it does the cars). The big question is whether the decrease in cautions is going to be changed because of the new car.Let’s start (as we usually do) with the new car.
Cautions: A New Low for NASCAR
At the start of the season, the big news was that cautions were remarkably down from last year. As I showed, this isn’t a new trend – it’s a continuing trend since 2007. Since the season’s data are now complete, I thought it was time to revisit the data.
The Reason for Decreasing Cautions
This was the first year that most people noticed a decrease in the number of cautions, but (as I’ve pointed out), 2012 is merely the latest in a six-year trend of decreasing cautions. The same downward trend is evident in the Nationwide Series. This year is perhaps notable for it being so extreme.
The data clearly shows the trend: The question, of course, is why?
The Six-Year Downward Caution Trend: In the Nationwide Series, too!
ust out of curiosity, I decided to do a similar analysis on the Nationwide Series caution record as I did on the Cup record. My intent was that if there was something specific to the Cup series – the new car, the Chase, etc.), it would show up because the Nationwide would follow a different trend. Not at all! Remember that I’m plotting number of cautions per 100 miles run
Cautions: A Historical Downward Trend Over the Last Six Years
Being the data geek that I am, I was really curious if the decreasing number of cautions was specific to this year. It’s not: Cautions have been decreasing since 2005,as the graph below shows. The squares are the cumulative number of cautions per 100 miles, obtained by adding up all the cautions in a season and dividing by the total number of miles in the races. (This is a more accurate number than total cautions, given rainouts, shortening races and different venues from year to year.)
Are Cautions Really Going Down?
I honestly cannot help it – scientists are naturally skeptical. If you make an assertion, I will have to question you on what data you have that supports it. This is second nature to the people I work with, but I realize it is damned irritating to non-scientists (aka “normal”) people.
So when I started reading everywhere that “cautions were down 35%”, I had to go look into it. This is a preliminary post – more detailed analysis will follow as soon as I’ve read my students’ final projects and gotten comments back to them.