2023 NASCAR by the Numbers

Your 2023 NASCAR by the Numbers post is finally here! I’ve been taking some time ‘off’ to change how I store and process data in the hopes of making it less time-intensive to retrieve and analyze. But here are the basics from the 2023 season.

How Far and How Long

The NASCAR Cup Series…

  • Was scheduled to run 9,352 laps in 2023, but actually ran 9,375 laps. Fans got to see an extra 23 laps
    • Chris Buescher ran the most of those total possible laps of any driver: 9,225 laps, or 98.4% of all laps possible.
    • Kevin Harvick was second with 98.3%.
    • Bubba Wallace was third with 9,188 or 98.0%
    • Only two full-time drivers ran less than 90% of the laps this year: Daniel Suárez (89.5%) and Ty Dillon (88.9%)
  • The series was scheduled to run 12,661 miles, but ran 12,714 miles, an excess of 53 miles
  • Ten races ran long or short
    • Nine races ran into overtime: both Daytona races, the first Las Vegas race, Phoenix I, COTA, Talladega (spring), Darlington (first), Gateway and the second Kansas race.
    • The Chicago Street Course race was cut short by darkness, but even losing 22 laps from that race didn’t totally zero out the gains from the other nine races.
  • All the cars this season ran a total of 323,227 laps or 439,465 miles, which is 47,771 miles less than a trip to the moon and back.
  • Drivers
    • 64 drivers ran races in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2023
    • 30 of those drivers ran all 36 races.
    • 11 drivers popped in for a single race
    • There were 15 distinct driver winners this year.

Where and When Races Ran

  • The Cup Series ran 27 different tracks this year in 19 different states.
    • Virginia hosted the most races, with four.
    • Florida and Tennessee each hosted three races.
  • Sunday races made up 83.3% of the 2023 NASCAR final schedule.
    • Four races were delayed until Monday: Dover, Charlotte (oval), New Hampshire and Michigan. Those races constituted 11.1% of the schedule.
    • Two races (5.6%) happened on Saturday.
  • Times
    • 50.0% of races this year were scheduled to start at either 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. ET
    • 63.9% were scheduled to start between 2:30 and 3:30 ET.
  • Race Duration
    • The Coca-Cola 600 was the longest race of the year in time, running 4 hours, 58 minutes, 50 seconds, not including red-flag breaks.
    • The Bristol Dirt Race, however, takes the record for least efficient. Drivers spent an average of two hours to run every 100 miles. The race itself was only 133 miles — thankfully.
    • Watkins Glen was the shortest race of the season, due primarily to NASCAR eliminating stage breaks. It took just 1 hour, 58 minutes and 44 seconds to complete. It was the only sub-two hour race this year.

Cautions

There were 252 cautions this year, accounting for 14.7% of the laps run. That’s a significant drop from last year, which had 302 cautions.

This year’s cautions are a return to the types of numbers seen with the Gen-6 car. In its last year, the series racked up 258 total cautions.

Fifty-five of the 252 cautions in 2023 were planned: 51 stage breaks and 4 competition cautions. That leaves 197 unplanned cautions, which are broken down by type in the table at left. NASCAR doesn’t officially designate cautions as ‘wheel issues’ or ‘tire issues’: Those were judgements on my part. I was very careful to designate ‘tire issues’ only if a tire blowing caused the issue, as compared to a tire that went down after contact.

Accidents (as usual) make up the biggest share of cautions at 104, or 41.3% of all cautions. That translates to 52.8% of unscheduled cautions. Accidents and spins together account for 61.1% of cautions.

The 154 accidents plus spins this year is down by six from 2022 — but up from 2021 by 51. That difference almost entirely spins, which rose significantly upon introducing the Next Gen car.

Drivers and Cautions

Kyle Larson was involved in the largest number of cautions of any full-time driver. With 19 total cautions, that more than one caution every two races. Christopher Bell came in second with 17 cautions. Ty Gibbs and Brad Keselowski tied for third with 16 caution involvements each. Suarez and Reddick were each involved in 15 cautions.

On the other side of the scale, Buescher was only involved in five cautions, the lowest of any driver who ran all 36 races. Justin Haley had the second-best avoidance-of-cautions numbers for 2023 with just six involvements.

A vertical bar graph of caution involvement by driver is part  of the 2023 NASCAR by the Numbers post.

In the graph above, I include only drivers who ran more than 21 races. I ordered the drivers left to right by ratio of caution involvement to races run. Although Chase Elliott was only involved in five cautions, he missed seven races and thus has a higher ratio than Buescher.

Most drivers’ involvement in cautions is due to accidents and spins: A couple notable exceptions:

  • Gibbs had two wheel issues, as did Aric Almirola
  • Suárez ha a wheel issue, a tire issue and a stall.

As for the numbers of cars involved in cautions, 338 cars were involved in accidents and 53 in spins.

Penalties

I posted a 2023 NASCAR by the Numbers penalty report separately. Here are the highlights.

  • NASCAR issued a total of 732 penalties in 2023, but 396 of those were intentional. Intentional penalties are those a crew chief opts to incur because following the rules would put them at even more of a disadvantage. Penalties deemed intentional are things like pitting before pit road is open and any penalties that occurred at the same time.
  • That leaves 336 unintentional penalties, with:
    • 57 pre-race penalties
    • 262 in-race penalties
    • 17 post-race penalties.
  • Pre-race penalties are almost half what they were in 2022, with sharp decreases in the number of unapproved adjustments and inspection failures.
  • In-race penalties are down 10 from 2022.
    • Speeding on pit road is the most-incurred penalty (126 or 47.2% of all in-race penalties.) That fraction is consistent with previous years.
    • Equipment issues (equipment leaving the box, for example) were the second-most-frequent in-race penalty with 30 occurrences or 11.2% of in-race penalties.
  • NASCAR collected about $1.2 million dollars in post-race fines in 2023, with the largest single penalty ($120,000) assessed to Stewart-Haas Racing’s #14 car for using a counterfeit part.
  • Two drivers, Noah Gragson and Cody Ware were suspended indefinitely. Both have since been reinstated.

Drivers and Penalties

  • Michael McDowell and the No. 34 team incurred the most unintentional in-race penalties in 2023 with 13. The Austins (Dillon and Cindric) tied for second with 11 penalties each.
  • (Dis)honorable mention: B.J. McLeod racked up 18 penalties in just 23 races, including 12 speeding-on-pit-road penalties.
  • Aside from Harrison Burton, who didn’t have any penalties, Harvick had the fewest in-race penalties: just one.
  • Kudos also to Ross Chastain, William Byron, Haley and Buescher for just three penalties each during the season.
A vertical bar chart measuring the number of in-race penalties by driver is part of the 2023 NASCAR by the Numbers Report

DNFs

The 2023 season saw a substantial decrease in the number of DNFs relative to 2022: From 217 last year to 167 this year, a drop of 50. The data presented here suggests that 2022 was more of an exception than the start of a paradigm shift. Most numbers are trending back to pre-Next Gen levels.

Those 167 DNFs represent 12.7% of cars failing to finish races. This continues the overall trend of downward DNFs observed since 2017.

The largest contributor to DNFs was accidents. The 129 DNFs due to accidents made up 9.8 of total finishes. If you include cars that retired due to the dvp close, that’s 144 cars done in by wrecks. Accidents and DVPs together account for 86.2% of all DNFs.

Drivers and DNFs

Austin Dillon had the worst year of his career in 2023, finishing in 29th place overall. A large part of that is due to the 10 accidents that culminated in his car exiting the race.

Imagine the season Larson might have had if he hadn’t had eight DNFs — the second-most DNFs of any full-time driver. All of Larson’s DNFs were also due to accidents. Even with those eight DNFs, Larson finished second in the series standings, led the most laps (1127) and had the second-most wins.

Suárez, Harrison Burton, Kyle Busch and Ty Dillon each finished the year with six DNFs. Burton, Busch and Dillon each had a suspension failure. Burton had one DNF due to overheating, while Dillon had two engines go south on him this year.

All of Suárez’s DNFs were accident related. Between penalties and accidents, Suárez at last has a really clear list of things to work on for 2024.

On the positive side of the graph, Buescher and Harvick each finished the year with just one DNF. Corey La Joie was the only driver to escape all 36 of the 2023 races unscathed. Special mention to Keselowksi and Chase Briscoe, each of who had only two DNFS.

The Daytona 500 had the largest fraction of DNFs with 42.5% of the cars failing to finish the race running. Texas and the summer Daytona race followed with 27.8% and 25.6% DNF rates.

All cars finished the summer race at Richmond and the Indianapolis Road Course.

Driver Finishes

  • Only five full-time drivers had a top-10 finishing rate of 50% or better:
    • William Byron (58.3%)
    • Christopher Bell (52.8%)
    • Denny Hamlin (52.8%)
    • Kyle Larson (50.0%)
    • Ryan Blaney (50.0%)
  • Only two drivers had a top-five finishing rate better than 40%
    • William Byron (41.7)
    • Kyle Larson (41.7)
    • Denny Hamlin came in third with 38.9% top-five finishes
    • Joey Logano had a 30.6% top-five rate
    • No other driver had more than 30% top-fives
  • Denny Hamlin beat William Byron for best top-three-finish rate: 30.6% to 27.8%.
  • Byron had the most wins this year (6)

Stage Points

My numbers include total stage points in 2023 races and points earned by the top 10 finishers in the Daytona Duels.

Overall Stage Points

  • Byron and Hamlin tie for most stage points with 312 each.
  • Larson is a close third with 292 stage points
  • We then drop to Reddick (259), Truex (253), Bell (251) and Blaney (233)

Stage Wins

  • Byron leads the list with the most stage wins (again, including the Daytona Duels) at nine.
  • Hamlin and Larson each had eight stage wins
  • Reddick, Keselowski, Truex and Blaney each had six.

And there you have your 2023 NASCAR by the Numbers report. See you all in 2024!

1 Comment

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. RFK’s Breakout Season Highlighted by Chris Buescher's Consistent and Almost Flawless 2023 Season - EssentiallySports
  2. RFK’s Breakout Season Highlighted by Chris Buescher’s Consistent and Almost Flawless 2023 Season
  3. Are Young People Still Interested In NASCAR? - NASCAR Explained

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