NASCAR Numbers 2019: Part 1

With another season in the record books and everyone making their top ten lists, it’s time to look at what the numbers say about the year that was…

Season Overview

The requisite 36 points-paying races at 24 different tracks weren’t that much different from last year, but let’s stop to remind ourselves how big the numbers are.

Infographic with some stats on the season
  • 10255: The maximum number of laps a full-time driver had the opportunity to drive in 2019, including rain-shortened races and overtime. That’s 13,777 miles!
  • 10221: The maximum number of laps any single driver completed. Joey Logano ran all but thirty-four laps.
  • 64: The number of drivers who ran at least one race this year.
    • 31: The number of drivers who ran all 36 races
  • 47: The number of teams that ran at least one race in 2019
    • 37 teams ran full-time.
      • 31 of those teams had one driver all season.
    • 10 teams ran part-time

To The Moon and Back (Plus Some)

501,037: The number of miles run by all drivers in all Cup-level races.

  • The mean distance between the moon and the earth is 238,855 miles. You could drive to the moon and back and the around the Earth at the equator.
  • Or just drive around the Earth’s circumference 20 times.

When We Ran

  • 28: The number of races run on a Sunday
  • 5: The number of races run on a Saturday
  • 3: The number of races run on a Monday
A pie chart showing the distribution of races between Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

This is similar to last year, where 75% of the races were Sunday, 8% were Monday and 17% were Saturday.

75%: The fraction of races that start between 2 and 4 PM Eastern time.

A pie chart showing the start times for races, with the majority starting between 2 and 4 PM eastern.

25%: The fraction of races that started between 6 and 8 PM Eastern time.

Margin of Victory

2: The number of races ending under caution this year. They’re indicated by yellow stars on the graph below. That’s one more than last year.

Bar chart showing the margins of victory for all 2019 races

As is usual, there was a wide variety of margins of victory

  • 0.007 seconds: The smallest MoV, at second Talladega. The blink of an eye is about a third of a second, for reference.
  • 9.5 seconds: The largest MoV was the Spring Dover race, where Martin Truex, Jr. ran away with the win.
  • 6 races (16.7%) were won with less than a 0.2 second MoV
  • 15 races (41.7%) were won with less than a 0.5 second MoV
  • 19 races (52.7%) were won with less than a 1 second MoV

You can see the distribution a little better in a pie chart.

A pie chart showing the distribution of margins of victory.

Compared to 2018:

  • 1.6 seconds: The average MoV for 2019, compared to 2.1 seconds in 2018.
  • The largest MoV in 2018 was 11.69 seconds, compared to 9.5 seconds in 2019
  • One race: was won by more than 7 seconds. In 2018, four races were won by more than 7 seconds.


NASCAR as a whole is getting less accident prone. (NASCAR classifies accidents and spins differently. It seems that the difference is that a spin is when a single car spins and can continue under its own power.)

  • 121: The number of accidents in 2019, up slightly from 111 accidents in 2018
  • 27: The number of spins in 2019, up slightly again from 24 spins in 2018.
  • 56 (46.3%) The number of single-car accidents.
  • 34 (28.1%) The number of two-car accidents.
  • 74.4%: The fraction of all accidents that involve one or two cars.
  • 25.6%: The fraction of accidents involving three or more cars.

Because there were so many one and two-car accidents, I zoomed in on the scale so you could actually see the other numbers. The first two bars go off the graph.

Column Chart showing how frequently accidents with different numbers of cars happen
  • 21: The most number of cars in one accident this year (Daytona 500)
  • 51: The most cars involved in accidents in one race (Also the Daytona 500. A number of cars were involved in more than one accident. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was involved in four different accidents.)
  • 11: The largest number of cars in an accident at a non-superspeedway. This was the Charlotte Coca-Cola 600, but I should point out that fall Talladega had two separate 11-car accidents.

Most Dangerous Track of the Year

Some tracks are just more conducive to accidents than others. You may remember the DLP Danger Index (or DDI), which ranked Daytona, the Charlotte Roval, Bristol, Talladega, Indy and Martinsville as the most dangerous tracks, taking into account the number accidents and the number of cars per accident.

Highest Accident Rate

It’s not a surprise that the largest number of accidents in a single race was at the Coca-Cola 600: It’s the longest race of the year. But let’s look at the number of accidents per 100 miles, which eliminates the lengths of the races.

A bar chart showing the number of accidents per 100 miles at different tracks
  • 4: The number of races with no accidents: Atlanta, Las Vegas (spring), Sonoma and Dover (fall).
  • 2.62: The highest accident rate at any track (Bristol, spring)
  • 2.20: The second highest accident rate (New Hampshire)

Bristol and New Hampshire are followed by the Charlotte Roval and the spring race at Phoenix. Note that the superspeedways are relatively far down on that list. They’ll make up for it in a moment.

Most Number of Cars in Accidents

But the DDI also requires us to look at the average number of cars in each accident, so here’s that data.

Column chart showing the average number of cars per accident for each track.

You’ll notice the ‘winners’ here are the four superspeedway races, each of which averaged more than five cars per accident

And the Winner Is…

Multiplying these two quantities together gives us the Diandra Danger Index

The Diandra Danger Index (DDI) showing the 'danger level' for each race.

9.86 and 8.81: The whopping DDIs for the Daytona 500 and the rain-shortened July race, respectively. This gives Daytona the award for the most accident-prone race and the most accident-prone track in 2019. The runner up was the Charlotte Roval, followed by the fall Talladega race and both Bristol races.

Lead Changes

627: The number of changes at NASCAR races in 2019. That’s up quite a bit from 2018, which had 534 lead changes. If we compare that number since 2001 (which was when we started having 36 races per year).

Column chart showing the total lead changes per season for 2001-2019

704: The average number of lead changes per season from 2001-2019. This year is larger than any of the previous three years, and not too far off from 2015.

Lead Changes by Track

Looking at the lead changes per 100 miles (so we correct for race different race lengths…)

Comparing the lead changes per 100 miles for all the 2019 races.
  • 7.3: The average number of lead changes per 100 miles.
  • 6.0: The average number of lead changes per 100 miles if you exclude superspeedway tracks. (I exclude them because they have large numbers of lead changes, many of which aren’t meaningful in the grand scale of things.)
  • 9.2: Maximum average number of lead changes per 100 miles (Talladega, fall)
  • 1.1: Minimum number of lead changes per 100 miles (Martinsville, both races.)

Now let’s compare the percentage change from 2018 to 2019. Increases are positive (blue) bars, while decreases are negative (red bars).

Comparing the percentage change in lead changes per 100 miles for 2019 and 2018
Red bars mean that the lead changes per 100 miles decreased from 2019 to 2018: Blue bars mean they were larger in 2019 than they had been in 2018.

Keep in mind that there are usual year-to-year variations, but it is interesting that the tracks showing decreases are two road tracks, Martinsville and Richmond. The 1.5 mile tracks are up.

Numbers of Caution Laps

One more metric before I quit for this week.

Infographic showing some stats for cautions for the 2019 season.
  • 248: the number of cautions in the 2019 season. That’s only one more than the 247 we had last year.
  • 6.9: The average number of cautions in a race, although the numbers run from 2 to 16
  • 1292: The number of caution laps run in 2019 (12.6%).
  • 4.18: The highest rate of cautions per 100 miles (Martinsville spring race).
  • 0.50: The lowest rate of cautions per 100 miles (the Las Vegas spring race, which had only the two stage-end cautions)

Some people feel that the caution laps between stages shouldn’t count in the race because they’re planned cautions, so I thought I’d take a look at how many caution laps we saw each season.

Column chart showing that the total number of caution laps has decreased over the years.

2019 is the lowest number of caution laps run since 2013 and the second lowest number since 2001. So if you think there are more caution laps now then there were ‘before’, you might want to check the numbers again.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our first foray into the numbers and statistics that summarize the 2019 NASCAR season. Stay tuned for more, including who used the most free passes, who got in the most accidents, and who spent the most time up front.

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