LOOP DATA EXPLAINED

LOOP DATA EXPLANATIONS

Average Running Position
Shows how a driver was running during the entire race. The stat can push the in-race story a little further than the finishing position alone (much like the Driver Rating, explained below, can). Example: Jeff Gordon won at Talladega on 10/7/07 with an ARP of only 27.670. In that race, Gordon hung in the back of the pack for much of the race and moved to the front in the closing laps. On the other side, Matt Kenseth, with an ARP of 4.670, ran well at Dover on 9/23/07 yet finished 35th because of engine troubles.

Closers
Illustrates a driver’s end-of-race performance by positions improved in the last 10 percent of each race. This statistic shows whether a driver collapses near the end of a race or is able to pick up positions late in the race to maximize his points on a day when he may not have had the best car but was able to stay on the lead lap and end well.  Example: The negative side often points to late engine failures (Matt Kenseth, Fall Dover 2007, 34 spots lost), accidents (Jimmie Johnson, First Pocono 2007, 33 spots lost) or a failed fuel mileage gamble (Jamie McMurray, Infineon 2007, 36 spots lost).  The most dramatic positive changes happen at restrictor plate tracks (Kevin Harvick, Daytona 500 2007, 28 spots gained) and when a fuel strategy works (Jeff Gordon, First Pocono 2007, 33 spots gained). Gordon ranked first overall in the category in 2007, with 78 positions improved – he ended the season in second place. Some show overall strength to finish a race: In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Dennis Setzer closed 11 spots to finish 10th at Martinsville Speedway.

Driver Rating
Best measure to see if a driver finished like he ran and just how dominating of a performance it was. Example: Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch’s perfect 150.0’s at New Hampshire and Pocono, respectively, in 2007. Also, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, David Reutimann had a perfect Driver Rating in his win at Memphis Motorsports Park.  In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Mike Skinner had a perfect Driver Rating at Martinsville Speedway and Kentucky Speedway and Ron Hornaday Jr. had one each at Lowe's Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway...The stat is also useful in cases where a driver had a good day on the track, but suffered a poor finish. Example:  Jimmie Johnson at the 2007 Spring Michigan race had a Driver Rating of 121.8, but only managed a 19th-place finish when he ran out of fuel late.

Fastest Drivers Early/Late in a Run
Measures how much a driver sets his car up for a short-term gain or long-term reward.  Generally a driver who runs quickly early, will run slower late. So you see both his propensity to save his tires for the long run or hit the accelerator right out of the gate.  Example 1: At Kansas in 2007, Casey Mears was 31st in speed early in a run, but fourth-quickest late. The stat illustrates a driver taking advantage of what the track presented that day, as Mears ended up finishing fourth. In the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Brad Keselowski ranked 10th in Early in Run, but suffered late in a run at 38th which led to a 13th-place finish on 8/18 at Michigan International Speedway.  In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Matt Crafton ranked 18th in Early in Run, but turned it up to first late in a run which led to a 10th place finish at Memphis Motorsports Park. Example 2: Those at the top of both lists in 2007 – Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – are both quick out of the chute and show top skill when their cars have deteriorated (loose conditions, worn tires, etc.).

Fastest Driver by Turn/Straightaway
This tends to show just exactly how a driver is getting around the course. (Is he taking his speed deep into Turn 1, causing his Turn 2 speed and Back Straightaway speeds to suffer?) Example 1: At Atlanta during the 2007 Chase, Jeff Burton dove into Turn 1 second best, but it cost him on Turn 2 (18th) and along the back stretch (24th). Example 2: It’s also quite interesting at road courses where you can sometimes find huge spreads if a particular driver gets through a section far better than anyone else (In the 2005 Busch race at Watkins Glen, Robby Gordon was over 1 mph faster through turns 5-8 than anyone else.)

Fastest Laps Run
Shows who is throwing caution to the wind and driving the wheels off their car lap after lap.  This stat is a great example of toeing the line of speed and handling.  Example: Those who can balance both – like 2007 leader of this stat Jimmie Johnson – finish well.  But some, like Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth in this stat), have sacrificed handling and engine for the sake of speed and have thus finished poorly on occasion. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Mike Skinner proved he had the skill to balance both, with 63 of the fastest laps (52.9), finishing first at Kentucky Speedway

Fastest on Restarts
Shows who gets the drop on the Green Flag the best.  Example: It also lets you test some of those long-assumed truths like Ron Hornaday Jr. is the master of the restarts…which turns out to be true (ranked first in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2007).

Green Flag Passes/Green Times Passed/Pass Differential
Pass differential shows how many times a driver was passed compared to how many times they passed (Passes minus Times Passed).  Illustrates how busy a driver was driving from the back to the front. Example: Matt Kenseth was +38 for the 2007 Atlanta Chase race.

Green Flag Speed
Shows each driver’s individual speed. Illustrates just how competitive the field is, as the top few drivers are just fractions of a MPH away from each other.  It’s also useful to see just how far off the pace a driver may have been for the race. Example: All 12 drivers in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranked in the top 14 of this statistic. Example 2: Backing up being fifth-best in fastest laps run, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second in 2007.)

Laps in Top 15
Illustrates season-long consistency and production. Example: All 12 drivers in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranked in the top 14 of this statistic, too. As a post-race statistic, Laps in the Top 15 can also illustrate race strategy (if a driver hung back and waited for the end of the race to make a move).

Passing Breakdowns (Turn 1, Turn 2, Front Straightaway, etc.)
Shows passing figures at each part of the track. This statistic includes both individual driver numbers and passing totals as a whole.  Example: The 2007 Bristol night race featured 2,147 passes, which more than doubled the previous race’s total.

Percentage of Laps Run on Lead Lap
Taken on the full season basis, this is ideal for showing drivers who have stayed in contention over the course of the season. Example: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson – among the most consistent drivers on the circuit – made up the top three in 2007.

Quality Passes
Passes of cars in the top 15 under green. The best-of-the-best reside at the top of this stat’s standings.  In other words, you have to beat the best to be the best. Example: Only one driver in the top 10 of this stat failed to make the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (Ryan Newman).

Speed in Traffic
Shows how well a driver handles the draft and shows fearlessness when around other cars.  Example: Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart, always in the “fearless drivers/hard chargers” discussion, rank second and third in this stat in 2007.


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