Winning vs. Consistency: The Delicate Balance of the NASCAR Playoffs

The NASCAR playoffs determine the season’s champion. Is the champion the guy who wins the most races? Or the guy who runs up front the most?

There’s no scientific way to answer this question, but there is data. NASCAR has modified their playoffs to try to create a suitable balance between winning and consistency. Have they succeeded?

Jumping the (Air) Gun

(Air) Gun Control A lot’s changed on Pit Road this year. In addition to cutting the over-the-wall crew to five people, NASCAR decided (by majority vote of the Team Owners’ Council) that they would provide air guns to all teams. Not everyone was in favor of this. Rob Kauffman tweeted that Chip…

Firewalls and Aerodynamics

My friend at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Dave Kallman (whose online column should be a regular read for race fans) asked about the confiscated firewalls from the Number 11 car at Indy. That reminded me of the first NASCAR race I was supposed to attend as research for my book The Physics of NASCAR. That was California in 2007. I was to follow around the number 19 car, at that time driven by Elliott Sadler and crew chiefed by Josh Browne.

Notes on Respect and Fines

A short note on Denny Hamlin’s comments on the Gen-6 car and subsequent fine.

I’ve talked to a lot of the people in the trenches involved in designing and creating the Gen-6 car. That includes people from manufacturers and teams. All of them have said that the development of the Gen-6 car is a major sea change for NASCAR. This is the most collaborative that NASCAR has been with introducing a new car in some time. Manufacturers and teams were consulted and they all feel that their opinions mattered and were taken into consideration. This was a very, very different process than the COT introduction, which was designed by NASCAR and plans delivered to teams.

Is There Really a Second-Place Curse?

One of the commentators after the final race in Homestead mentioned that Jimmie Johnson should be happy he finished in third because it allows him to avoid the “dreaded second-place curse”.
Anytime someone says something like that, it makes me wonder whether there really is a curse, or whether that person had just been talking to Carl Edwards. So I analyzed a little data and guess what… there really IS a second place curse.

Is the New Car’s Problem Heat or Something Else?

Some drivers have stumbled out of their cars and asked reporters for a few moments to hydrate and catch their breath before giving interviews the last few weeks. At Pocono, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in particular, looked flushed and tired. Drivers say the new car is too hot….

Why NASCAR Made a Yaw Rule

Yaw makes the new car easier to drive. So why did NASCAR make a rule limiting the amount of yaw allowed in the car? Initially, NASCAR was steadfast that they weren’t going to make a rule about yaw. They [complain] when we’ve got too many rules and then they want…

The Science of …Fuel Intake Problems

Drew Donnelli asks: Can you offer any insight into the problems JGR seems to have with fuel supply? Thanks for the question, Drew. As usual, with the help of a couple incredibly patient friends, I can provide a little information on the possible causes of the fuel intake problems that…

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