Atlanta Spring Race: Wins and Starting Positions

Since 1990, starting position hasn’t been as important for winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s spring race. That’s especially true since 2015, when Atlanta’s only race of the year moved from fall to spring.

I’ve gone back to to 1990 in this analysis because the relevance of historical data fades as you go back. Given that tracks can change significantly with temperature, I’ve also limited this analysis to spring races only

Atlanta Spring Race: Wins

Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson are tied for number of wins (3) in Atlanta spring races from 1990-2019.

A column chart showing the number of wins by driver for Atlanta spring races from 1990-2019

Drivers who will be on the track this weekend are: Jimmie Johnson (3), Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Kurt Busch, all with two wins.

Atlanta Spring Race: Qualifying

Starting from the front isn’t as important for the the Atlanta spring race as it is for other races. While qualifying well gets you a choice of pit boxes, it’s become easier for drivers who start at the back to make their way to P1 by the end of the race

A column chart showing where the winners of each Atlanta spring race from 1990-2019 started the race.
Note that there are no entires for 2011-2014: When Atlanta Motor Speedway went to one race a year, it was initially in the fall, so there was no spring race those years.
  • No driver won from the pole wince 2006
  • Since 2009., no driver has won from P2
  • The drivers who came from the back:
    • Dale Earnhardt (2000: 35th place)
    • Jimmie Johnson (2015: 37th place)
  • Oddly enough, two drivers have won from the 19th position in the last four races
    • Jimmie Johnson (2016)
    • Brad Keselowski (2019)

No, I don’t think there’s anything special about P19.

Atlanta Spring Race Winners: Box Plot

TIL: That a box plot is also called a box-and-whiskers plot, which I just think is amusing.

A box-and-whiskers plot for starting positions of eventual winners for Atlanta spring races
The starting positions of the eventual winners of Atlanta spring races from 1990-2019

Plotting the data this way shows that there is a wide range of positions from which the eventual winner starts. In 50% of the races, the leader started somewhere between 2nd and 25th; however, the median is 7, which shows that more of those races are won by starting closer to the front than further away.

And a Pie Chart, Too

Here’s one more way of looking at the data

Where the winners of the Atlanta spring race started the race

This chart echos the data from before, but a little more explicitly.

  • 44% of the eventual winners started in positions 1-5
  • 28% started in P6 to P10 (I know it says P5 on the graph, but it should say P6)
  • That means that 72% of the winners started from the top 10
  • It’s not that you can’t win this race from the very back, but it’s much less likely than if you start in the top 10

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