More Ragan vs. Allmendinger Statistics: Running at Finish

Great comment from Robby on my post statistically comparing AJ Allmendinger and David Ragan:

One thing you didn’t really factor which is a big deal to car owners is busted equipment. David Ragan destroys alot of race cars…AJ is one of the least wreck prone drivers in NASCAR. Ragan’s low finished were often a result of a wreck. AJ’s bad finishes were generally the result of bad handling cars or bad luck (Dover, Indy, Texas).

He’s right about owners being concerned about drivers who are constantly tearing up the equipment, so I pulled up the “running at finish” numbers for the two drivers, as shown to the right.  Ragan is again shown in red and Allmendinger in blue.  A high number means that you finished more races.

These numbers don’t discriminate between a blown engine or you taking out your own car running into someone else.   So I went through and took out  DNFs that were attributed to mechanical problems and re-plotted the data.  Ragan had two engines let go on him this year, so the number doesn’t look quite as bad as looking at the absolute number of DNFs.

For comparison:

  • The only drivers who competed in all 36 races and had more DNFs than Ragan were David Gilliland (4 crashes/2 mechanical) and Clint Bowyer (4 crashes, one engine and one running out of fuel).
  • Only three Sprint Cup drivers finished all 36 races in 2011 running:  Montoya, Edwards and Newman.  Stewart finished 35/36.
  • Steven Wallace – whose name came up first when I Googled “NASCAR” “crash” and “statistics” – has RAF (running at finish) percentages in Nationwide of 76.4%, 85.7%, 85.7%, 80%, and 82.9%.  Even someone who crashes “a lot” still finishes 3/4 of the races.
  • Aric Almirola ran a full year in Nationwide last year and finished 94.1% of the races (32/34).  He never ran a full year in the Sprint Cup, but the numbers for 2007-2010 are:  50%, 91.7%, 75% and 55.6%.  These numbers can be a little misleading because the largest number of races he ran was 12 in 2008.  For example, in 2007, he only ran six races and finished 3.  If he had finished 4 races out of 7, that would have raised his RAF percentage to 57.1% from 50%.  When you’re dealing with small numbers, a single race makes a much bigger difference – that’s why the standings bounce so wildly during the first couple weeks of the season and why we really can’t compare Almirola with Ragan using race stats.
  • Again, much thanks to racing-reference.info for access to the great stats.

I saw a couple more interesting things in the overall 2011 stats, but I’ve got my own personal countdown clock – unfortunately, it’s not to Daytona – it’s to the first day of classes in the Spring semester and I have a syllabus to get finished.  Thanks for the suggestion Robby!

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