With the series bearing down on Las Vegas this weekend it’s time to take one final look back at Homestead, last Sunday. This time through the numbers.
4.83 million viewers plus several thousand fortunate fans who viewed the race live saw William Byron collect his first win of the season and second of his career. Byron held off a hard charging Tyler Reddick for a 2.777 second win. Byron started 31st and roared to fifth by Stage 1, won Stage 2 and led the final 58 laps to take the win. The #24 car went to the front four times, leading a total of 102 of the 267 laps. This nearly doubled Chris Buescher’s 57 laps led.
Byron took the lead at lap 160 and led all but 9 of the final 107 laps, including winning Stage 2 and ultimately the race. He dominated the end of the race with two runs of 33 laps and the final 58 laps.
With the win, Byron joins Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell in the 2021 Playoffs (for now).
A deeper look at the Dixie Vodka 400 shows that the race started with 38 cars filling the 40 available starting spots. 35 (92.11%) finished the race with 25 (71.43%) finishing on the lead lap, 2.777 – 36.295 seconds behind the leader.
Cautions slowed the 267 lap race six times – three for the mandatory Competition Caution and two Stage Break conclusions, while the other three were for fluid on the track (2 times) and a two car incident in the final stage of the race.
Those yellow flags flew for 36 laps (13.48%) of the race. While the race was slowed we saw 8 of the 22 lead changes occur. Kyle Larson won the race off pit road, Martin Truex, Jr. beat Larson to the line for the restart and the remaining six were positional passes. These were lead changes that occurred just because the leader pitted before the start/finish line while other competitors pitted on the other side of the line. So of the 8 caution flag lead changes, only two were a result of competition.
In the remaining 231 (86.52%) green flag laps NASCAR loop data reported that 3411 passes occurred for a green flag passing rate of 14.77 green flag passes per lap. These green flag passes were a season high exceeding the previous high of 2877 at the Daytona Road Course and 2755 for the season opener at the Daytona 500. Homestead’s 14.77 green flag passes per green flag lap was the season’s low just behind the 500’s 17.22 and the Daytona Road Course’s whooping 49.60.
Maybe that’s why fans like the road courses!
A closer look at the loop data shows that of Homestead’s 3411 green flag passes recorded, 1146 (33.60%) occurred in the Top 15 positions. Known by NASCAR as Quality Passes, this number shows that although there was a season high green flag passes at Homestead, the bulk of them (66.40%) occurred in the back of the field. Homestead’s 1146 Quality Passes exceeded the Road Course’s 715 but trailed the 500’s 1819 passes in the Top 15. Comparing the Quality Pass rates, Homestead’s 66.40% P15 or below, was nearly a flip of the Daytona 500 that had 66.03% of their passes occur in positions P1-P15.
So Homestead had more green flag passes for positions than the other races but had less action up front than the 500.
Looking deeper into the action we find that NASCAR scoring data also determines how many of those green flag passes occurred for P1 or for the race lead. The loop data shows that of the 3411 green flag passes that loop data recorded at Homestead, 34 were for the lead or for P1 and only 12 of those resulted in green flag lead change
Whoa! How can you have 34 green flag passes for the lead and only 12 green flag lead changes?
Remember, if a pass for P1 happens anywhere on the track and is captured by a scoring loop, then that counts as a green flag pass for the lead. During the Homestead race that happened 34 times. But passes for the lead has to be sustained to the start/finish line for it to count as a green flag lead change. That happened 12 times.
So at Homestead, 34 of 3411 green flag passes occurred at the very front for the lead (1.0%) and only 12 of those resulted in an actual lead change. In 231 green flag laps, the fans saw a total of 12 green flag lead changes.
A closer look at those 12 green flag lead changes show that one was for Hamlin being penalized and had to go to the rear of the field, three occurred during the six restarts and another three occurred during green flag pit stops (pit sequence or “strategy” passes). The final five passes for the lead were actual passes on track or racing passes. Racing passes – the ultimate pass.
Five racing passes for the lead. One was for a Stage 1 win. Another for the race win.
So in 3 hours and 12 minutes of watching the Dixie Vodka 400, fans saw five passes for the lead.
After the race 15,052 fans voted in the Jeff Gluck “Was This a Good Race?” Poll. Though “unofficial” 78.1% said that a five racing pass for the lead Homestead was a good race. This outpaced the 500 that pulled a 57% and was just a smidge behind season leading Daytona Road Course 80.1%.
That’s Homestead… by the NASCAR numbers and some deeper numbers.
So was the Dixie Vodka 400 a good race?
It all depends on who you ask.
Pretty sure William Byron, his team, sponsors and fans would say it was.
What do you think?
Photo Credit; Michael Reaves Getty Images