The key stat for the 2021 Spring Dover race is pit stop performance. When there’s little on-track passing, pit stops become the only way to gain position.
Bowman vs. Larson
Many people have noted that Alex Bowman got the lead from Kyle Larson because Bowman’s pit crew pulled off not only the fastest stop of the race, but of their year to date. Their time in box was 12.1776 seconds.
Larson’s crew had the third best stop of the race at 12.3534 seconds, which is almost two tenths of a second slower. Chase Elliott’s pit crew had the second best stop at 12.2788. Hendrick Motorsports had the five pit crew stop of the race.
But let’s not short Bowman, because the time in and out of pit road is also important. Below, I compare the five pit stops each team made. The time-in-box is show in hatches, while the times in and out are unhatched.
Larson beat Bowman on the first three stops, while Bowman was fastest on the last two. But look at the times on and off pit road. Bowman was:
- 8/10 of a second slower on stop 1
- 5/10 of a second slower on stop 2
- 7/10 of a second slower on stop 3
- 1/10 of a second faster on stop 4
- 1.5/10 of second slower on stop 5
With Bowman having stepped up his pit-road game, he most likely would have lost the race off pit road. That’s why pit road performance is the key stat for 2021 Spring Dover
Average Time On/Off Pit Road
Bowman ranked 7th among average time on/off pit road for this race, the slowest of the Hendrick drivers.
It’s worth noting that the top three drivers have quite an advantage over the competition with Harvick taking an average of 32.46 seconds, Hamlin 32.50 seconds and Larson 32.53 seconds.
What’s even more interesting here in the key stat for 2021 Spring Dover is the differential between the fastest and the slowest. The slowest cars are losing a full two seconds on pit road to the fastest.
Best Dover Pit Stops
Instead of looking at averages, let’s consider the best time-in-box each team pulled off.
I cut off Bilicki’s team because, at 19.7 seconds, they were well over a second slower than the next fastest team. Again, it’s useful to see the big differences between the crews at some of the tier-one race teams and those at the other teams.
When cars like Suárez and Wallace elected to stay out at the end of the race, you can see why that was a good decision. Even though fresh tires would have given them a speed advantage, they would lose positions to the cars with faster pit crews.
It’s not just a question of staying out to maintain track position vs. advantage from new tires. The crew chief must also consider how many other cars are likely to get ahead of them on pit road.
So there you have the key stat for 2021 Spring Dover.