2021 Accidents: NASCAR by the Numbers

2021 accidents were down relative to the last few years, but a couple familiar names remain atop the list of ‘most crashed’ drivers.

2021 Accidents Relative to Recent History

Remember that NASCAR only tabulates accidents that cause cautions. If there’s an accident at the end of a race, it is not captured in their statistics. There’s also a bit of a judgement call in ranking something as a spin or an accident.

Accordingly, we had 117 Accidents (and 20 spins) this year. That’s lower than the last two years and about the same as 2018. It’s still eight more than the minimum number of accidents and spins we had in 2012.

A stacked vertical bar chart showing total accidents and spins from 2003-2021

2021 Accidents by Driver

Every driver who ran the full 36-race season had at least one accident. I’ve highlighted the top-12 ranked drivers in the graph below, so you can see that even the best drivers were not immune from getting hit

In 2019, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. racked up a total of 19 accidents to take 1st place in a category no one wants to win. He fell to 6th place in 2020 with only 11 accidents.

I’m sorry to say that Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is back on top this year with 17 accidents in the 2021 season.

2021 Accidents by driver in a vertical bar chart, with the top 12 drivers highlighted
Only full-time drivers are included in this graph

It’s useful to look at this same data in terms of percentages — and to include drivers who ran at least 25 races.

A bar chart showing percentage of accidents relative to races run, including all drivers who have run at least 25 races.
  • Stenhouse, Jr’s numbers are one accident short of having an average of one accident every other race.
  • Alfredo and Bowman tied for second place with 15 accidents each, which translates to an average 41.7% accident rate.
    • Bowman was only involved in 7 accidents last year, so this is a big jump for him.
    • Alfredo was a rookie in Cup this year, so we have nothing to compare with.
    • Chase Briscoe, the only other official rookie this year was involved in 11 crashes
  • Among champion contenders, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski tied with 12 accidents each.
  • On the low side:
    • Logano was only involved in four accidents.
    • Champion Kyle Larson was involved in six accidents
    • Harvick had 9 crashes this year, compared with 8 last year

There’s also a mix of relatively new/rookie drivers with those that have a lot of experience.

2021 Accidents + Spins by Driver

I added spins to the graph below, and highlighted the names of the top 8 drivers.

2021 accidents and spins in a bar chart, with the names of the top 8 drivers in red

When we add in spins, Alfredo ties Stenhouse, Jr. with 17 incidents. didn’t have any spins. And even if we add the three Newman spins to his 12 accidents, that’s still less than the 17 spins Stenhouse, Jr. had. So I’m afraid Ricky wins the title again this year.

2021 Accidents by Race

Let’s look at which tracks are most likely to have accidents and spins.

A stacked bar chart showing the numbers of accidents and spins by race.
  • The spring Martinsville race had the most overall accidents + spins, but more than half of the incidents were spins.
  • The fall Martinsville race had one fewer accident and spin, but won for total number of accidents with 11, compared to the 6 in the spring race.
  • After fall Martinsville, the Bristol Dirt Race, Darlington and the final race at Phoenix all tied with spring Martinsville for six accidents each.
  • There were no accidents at Road America or Watkins Glen this year.

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