Talladega Superspeedway is known for moving playoffs. But how worthy is this reputation?
Playoff drivers usually view the first race in the second qualifying round as the best opportunity to earn points, earn stage points and possibly even win given that Talladega is the second race. Now this Texas in the rearview mirrorLet’s convert our data analysis tools to Talladega.
Determining how much to mix a race into the qualifying standings requires a simple metric that applies to all the years that NASCAR has been in its stages and qualifiers. In a rare point of consistency, Talladega has been the 31st race of the season since 2017, when he started the stage races.
After trying two different methods, I finally settled on the match ratings. These ratings are a zero-sum game. For each driver advancing at a location, another driver must move down.
The first graph is the ascending order as a function of the race in the second part of the 2021 playoffs. It’s a bit of a mess, but stay with me.
Match order spans the left side of the graph. The highest ranked driver at the top and 12The tenth arranged at the bottom.
The leftmost set of points shows the ratings issued by Bristol, after eliminating the four lowest drivers and replanting the rest. The second column of points shows the standings after Las Vegas, which was the first race at Round Two in 2021.
Each driver is represented by a different color, with lines connecting its order. For example, dark purple lines appear Denny Hamlin Rise from third to first on these three races. Light blue lines appear at the bottom Alex Bowman From the seventh to the twelfthThe tenth.
The messier the lines between two races are, the more shaky the qualifiers. Since “clutter” is hard to define, I counted every time a driver’s line crossed another driver’s line.
Each crossing indicates that drivers have changed their places in the rating. The number of intersections between Bristol and Las Vegas, for example, tells you how much Las Vegas will affect the rankings.
Three intersecting lines counts as three jolts because there are three pairs of drivers crossed.
In 2021, Las Vegas had nine intersections, Talladega 13 and Roval only five. This seems consistent with our hypothesis that Talladega is the largest upper shaker of the second round.
In addition to being just one point, the 2021 Talladega competition poses another problem. Bubba Wallace He won the rain-kissed race, which traveled 311 miles instead of the scheduled 500 miles.
This raises the possibility that 2021 will not be the most representative year for Talladega. So I repeated the analysis going back to 2017. Since we didn’t have a stage race – and therefore stage points – prior to 2017, it doesn’t make sense to compare previous years.
The table below shows the change indicator from 2017-2021. Note that the first and third races changed from year to year.
These five years of data show that Talladega wasn’t always the race that rocked this round of qualifying. From 2017 to 2019, Dover and Charlotte earned this honor. This is surprising, especially in 2017. This is the year that 26 of the 40 cars failed to finish the Talladega and NASCAR races. parked Jimmy Johnson And the Matt Dependet.
In 2020, all three races had roughly equal indicators of change.
Ruval was the third race in the playoffs just two years ago. Mayhem was on par with Talladega in terms of impact on the rankings in 2020, but less so in 2021. Kansas beat Roval to change the rankings twice.
First race warning
If you were surprised to see a bigger change for the first race in the second round of qualifying, you’re not alone.
The fall 2021 race in Las Vegas was remarkably quiet. There were only two DNFs, both of which were non-combine cars. And one car accident, again, didn’t include a clincher. However, it had a vibration index of nine.
This turned out to be a side effect of the reseeding protocol.
The graph below shows the same time period as the ranking graph, but it indicates the total points for the top 12 drivers.
Immediately after the reclassification, drivers are separated by 57 points from 1st to 12The tenth. if you delete Kyle LarsonWith a difference of 30 points, the eleven lowest runners are separated by only 27 points.
Where the driver can earn Maximum From 60 points in a single race, the first race in a round has a much greater impact in changing the rankings. In fact, the first race decompresses reseeding.
After Las Vegas, 12 drivers were separated by 78 points. After Talladega, the margin increased to 98 points.
The larger numbers for the first races of any round are due more to point pressure from reseeding than to the nature of the track.
Implemented until 2022
Drivers don’t have to win in Talladega. They just have to finish the match before the other qualifier drivers. In fact, if a particular driver cannot win, the next best case for him is that none of the other drivers win.
The biggest drop in positions the driver from Talladega has seen is five – and that’s from the rainy 2021 race. On the other hand, the drivers also saw an eight-place gain in the standings behind Talladega. Those gains were after the 2017 race where more than half of the field failed to finish, but at least one driver had dropped out of the Talladega in the fall in each of the past four years at least three places.
In terms of this year’s second playoff stats so far: Last week’s Texans had a shake-up index of 14. That’s higher than all but the first year of the playoffs.