2022 Spring Phoenix Race Report

The 2022 Spring Phoenix Race Report shows a race that wasn’t much different from most Phoenix races. Fewer accident and spins and a slightly reduced margin of victory, but where were the veterans?

Lead/Caution-O-Gram

The colorful Caution/Lead-O-Gram shows that we had 8 cautions for 52 laps, with three planned cautions, 2 accidents, 2 spins and 1 debris caution.

Six different drivers led for fourteen lead changes. That’s down from 22 in 2021 and 20 in 2020.

All leaders were what I call quality leaders, which is sort of an evolving concept. (I’ll write a separate note about it.) Basically, I was trying to differentiate drivers who did something to get the lead (i.e. beat everyone else out of the pits, passed) vs. those who got the lead passively (i.e. everyone else pitted). This is not an official NASCAR statistic. Given how hard it’s proving to be to suss out, that may be why it’s not.

A vertical bar graph from the 2022 Spring Phoenix Race Report showing the number of lead changes.

Other Stats

As I noted on twitter, Joey Logano, at almost 32 years old, was the oldest driver to lead. Everyone else was under 30. This was also the fourth winner this year under 30. We can keep writing this statistic for all it’s worth until July 31, 2022. That’s when Kyle Larson turns 30.

Also:

  • 9 cars failed inspection twice and lost a crew member (Kyle Busch, Smithley, Reddick, Cassill, Custer, Bell, Gilliland,Jones, Ty Dillon)
  • 3 drivers were sent to the back.
    • Kyle Larson
    • Harrison Burton
    • Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.)
  • 10 Pit road penalties
    • 8 Speeding
    • 2 Too many crew members over the wall

Margin of Victory

The margin of victory for the 2022 Spring Phoenix Race was 0.77s, which is lower than last year (1.70) and higher than the year before (0.28). It’s in line with the averages we see in the Spring Phoenix race

A vertical bar graph from the 2022 Spring Phoenix Race Report showing the margin of victory from 1998 to present.

Accidents

We had fewer accidents and many fewer cars involved in accidents at the 2022 Spring Phoenix race.

A vertical bar graph showing the number of accident from 1998 to present.
A vertical bar graph from the 2022 Spring Phoenix Race Report showing the number of cars in accidents from 1998 to 2022

Unique Aspects

The most interesting graph to me is where each driver drove his fastest lap.

A vertical bar chart showing where each driver at the 2022 Spring Phoenix race drove his fastest lap.

They’re roughly divided into two groups: Drivers who drove their best laps at the very start of the race and those that drove their best laps in the last 2/3s or so. I noted in my article for NBC Sports that Phoenix is a track that rewards teams who can adapt. And boy, did Chase Briscoe’s team adapt.

A Caveat

Phoenix is also a track where you can’t run fast laps if you’re too stuck in traffic. Many best laps are run on restarts. If you’re in the front, you’ve got a better chance of running unimpeded than if you’re in the back. I know this is an annoying graph, but I haven’t figure out how to make it clearer.

The blue bars are what position a driver was running in at the time he drove his fastest lap. The red lines inside show you how high they rose.

2022 Spring Phoenix Median and Fastest lap times shown in a scatter/line plot

The order is from fastest fastest lap left to right. (Yep, two ‘fastest’s there.) The top 9 fastest laps were all run by drivers in P5 or better. In fast the top 15 fastest laps were run by drivers P8 or better.

Lap Times

I’ll end the 2022 Spring Phoenix race report with my standard graph showing fastest and most frequent laptimes. Red triangles are each drivers’ fastest laps. Blue dots are their median lap times, and the blue lines extend to show that range that each driver drove 50% of his laps in.

There’s a slow, but steady, rise in lap times all the way to the last four drivers. But we’re going from medians of about 28.3 s to just under 29 seconds for the first 32 drivers.

And that’s the 2022 Spring Phoenix Race Report!

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