Posted By: David Morgan – Follow at @damorgan86
July 7, 2015
Each week following the NASCAR weekend, we’ll dive into the loop data statistics compiled by NASCAR and see which drivers truly performed the best, whether they ended the day in victory lane or not. We call this weekly in depth review of the stats, “The Weekend AfterMath”.
This week, we’ll analyze the 57th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway that despite the very late start did not lack in excitement from beginning to end. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated the event, while the last-lap mayhem remains a big topic of debate in NASCAR. Though Earnhardt dominated and won, who statistically was the best driver in the early hours of Monday morning on the high banks of the “World Center of Racing”?
The only way to find out is to look at the loop data statistics compiled by NASCAR after the event. Loop Data consists of several different categories, but for our purposes, we will only look at six of the most telling categories, including: Average Running Position, Closers, Fastest Drivers Early in Run, Fastest Drivers Late in Run, Fastest on Restarts and Driver Rating. Some of these categories have the usual suspects making up the top-10, but others have some names that you don’t usually associate with having the best statistics.
Before we dive into the loop data, just how did the top-five finishers perform over the course of the event?
Average Running Position
This category is exactly what it sounds like; drivers are ranked by their average position on track throughout the event. Average Running Position is especially telling at restrictor plate tracks, where even if a driver suffers a bad finish, their ARP shows just how strong they were while they were on track.
At Daytona, the top three average running positions went to the top-three finishers, Earnhardt, Johnson, and Hamlin, respectively, with their average positions ranging from 2.72 for Earnhardt to 8.13 for Hamlin. Without a doubt, the three podium finishers were the class of the field throughout the night.
Sixth place finisher Jeff Gordon captured the fourth highest average running position at 8.14, while Paul Menard, who ended the night back in 16th, scored an average running position of 8.40 for the fifth highest average position during the Coke Zero 400.