Sciencing Out NASCAR Rules Changes

Rules changes in NASCAR are tricky.  There’s really no way to test them before implementing them. You’re relying on the judgement and experience of the NASCAR team, with input from race teams, drivers, Goodyear and tracks. How to Test Rules Packages? Robert Gauthier (@yetticrg) tweeted a question to me (You…

Skirting the Issue

Flared side skirts became an issue when social media started noticing them somewhere around Kansas. The fact that the most obvious example of this was on the 2 car and Brad Keselowski is rapidly taking over from Kyle Busch as most-love-to-hate driver in NASCAR may have brought the issue to the fore faster.

The Kansas Monozone Tire

OK, so ‘monozone’ is just a fancy way of saying it’s the old tire.  It’s all in the branding, isn’t it? Goodyear has been experimenting with multi-zone tires since last year.  Multizone tires attempt to get the best of both worlds by combining a harder compound on the inner 2-3…

The Reason for Decreasing Cautions

This was the first year that most people noticed a decrease in the number of cautions, but (as I’ve pointed out), 2012 is merely the latest in a six-year trend of decreasing cautions. The same downward trend is evident in the Nationwide Series. This year is perhaps notable for it being so extreme.

The data clearly shows the trend: The question, of course, is why?

Why You Can’t Predict Anything Based on the First 10 Races

The plot below shows the cumulative number of cautions per mile since 2007.  I’m using number of cautions per100 miles to 1) make up for races that were not run to completion; 2) compensate for green-white-checkered finishes; 3) compensate for tracks that have shortened races; and 4) compensated for changing…

Are Cautions Really Going Down?

I honestly cannot help it – scientists are naturally skeptical. If you make an assertion, I will have to question you on what data you have that supports it. This is second nature to the people I work with, but I realize it is damned irritating to non-scientists (aka “normal”) people.

So when I started reading everywhere that “cautions were down 35%”, I had to go look into it. This is a preliminary post – more detailed analysis will follow as soon as I’ve read my students’ final projects and gotten comments back to them.

Track Drying

I’ve gotten a couple questions about why it takes so long for a track to dry and why humid weather should make a difference, so here’s a short explanation. Air is a mix of gas molecules:  mostly (78%) nitrogen, about 21% oxygen, the rest misc. gases.  The composition is pretty…

Behind the Science of Speed

The Science of Speed video series is now up at We did a press conference at Texas Motor Speedway Friday April 3rd afternoon announcing the series. If you told me three years ago I’d be sitting at a racetrack in-between a real racecar driver and an official from the…

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