Pocono Leaders: A Tale of Two Races

Let’s look at our Pocono leaders. Pocono was going to be a doubleheader, even before the coronavirus hit. Did having two races in two days given anyone a big advantage when it comes to leading or winning at Pocono?

Denny Hamlin made some interesting comments about how younger drivers might benefit from two-in-a-row more than experienced drivers such as himself — and then won the second race.

Pocono Leaders

If you thought one team was going to dominate both races, you were in for a surprise.

Pocono Leaders: The Lead-O-Grams for both Pocono Races showing that they had very little overlap in terms of leaders
The Saturday Race is on top, the Sunday Race on the bottom.

As you can see from my color coding, there’s very little overlap in terms of who led the race. The Saturday race had 10 lead changes and the Sunday race had 12.

There were 8 distinct leaders on Saturday and 9 on Sunday, compared to an average over the last 20 years of 10.1.

Almirola led the most laps on Saturday, then led less than 10 laps on Sunday and most of those were under caution.

Hamlin seems to be a driver who, when he leads the most laps, often wins.

Lead Changes

The lead changed under yellow twice for both races. The Saturday race had two changes on restarts and the Sunday race had four.

That leaves us with 8 quality lead changes for both days. I’ve plotted lead changes per 100 laps so we can compare different-length races.

A bar chart showing the different kind of lead changes for Pocono from 2000 to 2020

Those numbers are on the low side compare to recent history, but especially when you compare with the early 2000s.

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