Michigan Finishes-Maybe It’s Time to Look at the Facts

I don’t get to listen to Dave Moody’s show on SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 very often, but was on the road Monday and decided to tune in.

Ray from Kansas’ call caught my ear. He was talking about even how great things are going in the sport today, there is all this negativity.

He and Dave had a lively discussion with The Godfather pointing out that most of the feedback after the Michigan race was actually positive, with fans liking what they saw with Kevin Harvick’s win. But, what really peaked my interest was Dave’s close to the call. It went like this-

Yesterdays win was was fairly lopsided as wins go these days, this year.  Harvick’s win, his margin of victory was 2.9 seconds whereas a yearor two or three ago we were not at all surprised to see seven, eight or 10 second MOVs.

So 2.9 as as lopsided as it may have seemed in Racing Year 2022 ugh pretty good in comparison to years past.”

So from Dave’s comment, I took it that Michigan produces races with massive Margins of Victories (MOV) and does so frequently enough that it’s expected. But now with the NEXT GEN producing a 2.9 second MOV Sunday we should be pleased that things are now heading in the right direction.

I didn’t quite remember Michigan races as being that bad, so I pulled up good ol’ Racing-Reference.info to see what NASCAR’s timing and scoring said about the finishes “a year or two or three ago”.

Ranking MOVs from closest to largest over the last three years (“a year, two or three ago) produced a few surprises

2021: 0 .077

2020 (1): 0.093

2019 (2): 0.147

2020 (2): 0.284

2019 (1): 1.054

2022: 2.903

First, the expectations for seven, eight, ten second MOVs may have been there for Dave and others (he seemed to be speaking for the fandom as a whole), but they never happened during that “a year or two or three ago” time frame.

Second, Sunday’s MOV was the largest over that time period.

Next, not only was Sunday’s MOV the largest but it was almost double the next largest MOV in that time period.

Finally, we see the car that the NEXT GEN replaced-2021 GEN 6 had the closest MOV for that time period – .077, a far cry from the seven, eight, ten second expected margins.

So Sunday’s race is “pretty good in comparison to years past”?

Based on those numbers, things don’t quite square up with Dave’s comments on Michigan finishes.

Maybe the low MOVs were due to short green flag runs to the finish. Harvick’s run did come off a 35 lap run and it took Bubba Wallace a while to get past Joey Logano. I might could go with that but the 2019 (1) race ended with a 48 lap green flag run and was still almost half of Sunday’s MOV.

Maybe the time frame was off some. Surely there is a basis for Dave’s 7-10 second MOV comment.

So the search expanded back to the 1993 season. That’s when Dave went full time with MRN. The MOV’s over the period Dave called every Michigan race for MRN ranked largest on down was as follows-

2004 (2) 8.216

1995 (2) 6.8

2012 (1) 5.393

2018 (2) 3.323

2009 (1) 2.992

2013 (1) 2.989

2000 (2) 2.971

1997 (1) 2.964

2022 (1) 2.903

(Editors note; For some reason there’s no photo of Biffles 2004 winning car on NASCAR media so this is the closest I can come up with.) Photo Credit;2004 | Diecast Crazy Forums

So for the last 56 races there was only one 8 second plus MOV race when Greg Biffle smoked the field 18 years ago.

One.

No 7’s. No 10’s. One 8 since 1993.

Out of those 56 races, seven finished under caution, leaving 49 with a MOV. When you look at the ranking above, you see that Sunday’s race had the 9th largest MOV since 1993.

That means that 40 of the 49 races that Dave called had closer finishes than Sunday’s race.

“Pretty good in comparison to years past”… OK? If you say so.

So where does this 7, 8, 10 second MOV expectation come from? To get those types of MOVs you have to go back even further… BDM… Before Dave Moody went full time with MRN.

Looking at the MOV’s since the track opened in 1969 we see the following MOVs that meet or exceed Dave’s expectation range.

1989 (2) 16.6 Rusty Wallace

1972 (1) 16 David Pearson

1985 (1) 13 Bill Elliott

1978 (1) 12 Cale Yarborough

1991 (1) 11.72 Davey Allison

1977 (1) 10 Cale Yarborough

2004 (2) 8.216 Greg Biffle

So in the 53 year history of the Michigan International Speedway there have been 105 Cup races held there and a grand total of 7 have had margins of victory “seven, eight or ten seconds” or greater.

Let that sink in a minute… 7 out of 105. Is that enough to expect Sunday’s race to turn into one of those? Is that enough to comment in such a way to lead listeners or at least this listener to believe that large MOVs is commonplace at Michigan?

I wouldn’t think so… but there has to be some reason, some basis to paint that word picture when the stopwatch and the record books say otherwise.

So where is this large margin finish expectations Dave speaks of is coming from?

I really have no idea. Since his comment referenced NEXT GEN I suppose one way to make the new product look better is to compare it to the old and the worst of the old at that. Unfortunately when you actually look at the Michigan numbers, that just doesn’t pan out.

Not this Sunday.

And no matter who says it or how often they say it that changes nothing because the stopwatch and record book doesn’t support it.

Maybe it’s time folks check it out. If they did they will find that for every 16.5 second Rusty Wallace blowout Michigan has had a 8 inch Dale Jarrett-Davey Allison MOV. Yet for some reason though, in this NEXT GEN era, such finishes escape mention.

I do agree with Dave that as time goes on they will improve the car. There are lots of smart people in the shops and atop the pit boxes that will figure it out. Finishes will get closer. Maybe next year they can get it down to under a second… like the second race in 2020.

Then they can work on dropping it to tenths of seconds and then hundredths… like they did last year.

Now THAT would be “pretty good in comparison to years past”, wouldn’t you say?

As exciting as that will be there is one Michigan MOV record NEXT GEN will never break. In 1999, Dale Jarrett’s MOV over Jeff Gordon was an impressive .505 seconds-five times closer than Sunday’s race. What made it even more impressive was it was in a race that had no caution flags!

Nowadays, we can’t race without a minimum of two caution flags. So not matter how good the NEXT GEN cars get going forward, they can never take that record away from DJ.

Michigan has a long racing history and now may be a good time to take a look at it. Even if you just look at a year or two or three… you might be surprised what you find.

I know after listening to SiriusXM NASCAR Monday, I sure was.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe

David Nance

Photo Credit (cover); Sean Gardner/Getty Images

10 comments

  1. David, Glad to see you are still out there crunching the numbers for us ! One thing I don’t believe you will have to worry about this year will be a champion without a win. What do you think ?

    1. LOL!

      Well Papa that article is coming out soon. So stay tuned!

      Thanks for remembering, reading and sharing. Mich appreciated!

      Take care.

      1. David, I would wait about two weeks to do the final editing on that article. I think a whole lot of surprises may be waiting at The Glen and Daytona !

  2. I loved going to Michigan to race. Track was great, people were great, area was attractive, food was good and the sight of 5 cars abreast in the “D” was breathtaking. The fact that Dave Moody was once again wrong is no surprise.

    1. Dave,

      I got crossways and accidentally put my reply to you under Vivian’s post. Sorry. I’d delete and repost but a bit challenged in that area. Please
      accept my apologies.

  3. Dave Moody is wrong about a lot of things. If you are on call with him and try to set him straight, he just cuts you off. Meanwhile, thanks again, David, for a good one and for taking time to give us the right stats!

    1. Thanks Dave!

      MIS has always been a special place, being it was the home track for the Manufacturers and all. And the 5 wide you mention was something I looked forward to. I just hate to see it get a rap like that from someone who has such a pulpit in the sport.

      I’m confident that there was more than one less “seasoned” listener who blindly took those comments at face value and will parrot those remarks when they view or discuss MIchigan in the future. That is a bit sad, unfair and discouraging from my perspective.

      Take care, have a great race weekend and thanks again!

    2. Sorry Vivian. It’s late And I got things crossways tonight. I hate to hear that about someone who is the trusted voice of the sport for so many. If MIchigan deserved the rap, I could understand… but Sunday’s performance wasn’t as good nor MIchigan historically as bad as portrayed.

      It was a fun research project and a nice walk down memory lane.

      Thanks for reading and taking time to comment. Always appreciated!

      Stay safe!

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