Another Record Richmond Race… Was It the New Aero?

Found it interesting that a record number of Green Flag Passes was reported for this race in light of the fact that the previous high was the 2022 Fall Race (3559) and before that the 2022 Spring Race (3072).

Two 2022 record breaking performances and nary a word was said about those. You would think that such performances from a new racing platform would garner attention. Somehow, those two slipped through the cracks.

But this one didn’t!

Is this year different because of the new aero package? Green Flag Passes is one of the metrics NASCAR to show the success of the NEXT GEN. No doubt it will be used to show that the new package did what it was intended to do.

But did it?

Maybe. But it may require a little deeper dive to get a more complete picture.

1177 (30.1%) of those passes were Quality Passes P1-P15. Since there were 37 entries this week, the Top 15 made up 40.5% of the field.

So roughly 30% of the Green Flag Passes was done by the front 40% of the field. Conversely, the back 60% of the field did 70% of the passing.

So we had lots of passing, just more was done in the back than the front…

Is that what was intended?

And of those 1177 QPs,

-15 resulted in Green Flag Lead Changes with

-2 occurring within three laps of the race start or restart of which we had 9 such opportunities with the field bunched,

-7 occurred because the leader pitted and turned the lead over and

-6 was because someone actually raced passed the leader to take the lead.

6 Racing Lead Changes in 319 Green Flag Racing Laps enough? (Green Flag Laps minus Start/Restart Laps).

William Byron had 3 Racing Lead Changes.

Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and race winner Kyle Larson had 1 each.

Credit: RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Cody Ware, #51 Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford, and Josh Berry, #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 02, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

There were also 7 lead changes under Caution including Larson’s race winning pass.

He lead the final 25 laps of the race, including 7 Caution flag laps. The final Green Flag run was 14 laps long where he held off Josh Berry for a 1.535 second Margin of Victory.

There were 24 cars on the Lead Lap, which considering the number of Lucky Dogs awarded and Wave Arounds taken during the final three Caution Flags might not be an accurate reflection of how many stayed on the lead lap through the bulk of the race.

So when you put it all together and give it a good hard look, is this enough performance differential to say the package was a success?

Looking back, Phoenix produced two Racing Lead Changes-one more than the 2022 Spring Race and tied for the Championship Race. Guess that is an improvement.

COTA had 4 Racing Lead Changes compared to 1 last year. This year’s race was all Tyler Reddick and with all the other changes implemented (new tires, no Stage Cautions, etc) along with the aero change it’s difficult to pinpoint what created the improvement. I suspect Tyler’s performance was as much a result of the input from eNASCAR Champ Keegan Leahy than the 30% reduction in downforce.

And now Richmond.

Its is only three races into the new package and only time will tell. It may still be a little too early to declare Victory and call it done.

More passes is a start but there is more to it than just this one metric. And often more than statistics can measure-like how did the fans like the product.

Tune in to see how the next one goes.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance

Photo Credit (Cover); David Jensen / Getty Images


  1. Good analysis, as usual, David. Sounds like the overall, non-biased assessment will be positive.
    A couple of thoughts. First, regardless of aero package, you’re going to have more passes in a race with green-flag pit stops, because the racers with new tires exploit that with passing. Not sure there’s a way to reflect that in NASCAR’s stat-centric universe.
    Second, at least at Richmond in years past, a good measure of quality racing was consecutive laps when two cars race side-by-side. Another difficult measure, maybe, but important. A pass may be over quickly, but side-by-side racing can keep you on your feet for several minutes.
    Unfortunately, I was driving home from vacation (and feeling crappy from a virus) yesterday and only able to follow the very end of the race. Would have liked to pay more respect to the 60th anniversary of my first-ever race, in this very event

      1. Thanks Dave. You are right about that as the video shows. Thanks for posting. Really enjoyed.

        Take care

    1. Sorry you aren’t feeling well. Hope you make a speedy recovery.

      Only got to listen to it as was on the road as well. Hope it looked as good as it sounded. I hear one thing and think back to races like Dave posted and can’t help but smile.

      The long green flag runs, tire fall off, tire management and strategy all made for an interesting sounding affair. These numbers didn’t surprise me as much as NASCAR and Richmond not making a bigger deal out of them earlier.

      Three record breaking races in a row and crickets on the first two. Don’t understand.

      They do try to measure the side by side , back and forth. Green Flag Passes for Lead. Passes up front that may or may not result in a Lead Change at the line. The greater the difference between those and GFLCs point to back and forth. On road courses for instance those two numbers are almost always the same. There is no back and forth. Short and sweet passes. Superspeedways or when we ran to low HP high DF packages where you had lanes going back and forth the differential would be significant as lanes could make a pass but could not complete it. So they do try.

      Unfortunately, NASCAR uses that little nugget as a major metric but it’s not readily available to the commoners. Would be interested to.

      Richmond was on my bucket list for a while but never made the trip. Maybe some day.

      Hope these results build interest. Love to see it back.

      Thanks again and take care.

      1. You mention tire fall-off, which has been a problem sporadically at Richmond, usually -and naturally – corresponding with the age of the racing surface. There also have been coating efforts to help with the issue, and I think our colleague Mr. Fulton was involved in making one of them perhaps a little extra interesting. If I recall correctly, the coating material included some rare mineral(s) from a South Pacific Island. Don’t I have that at least a little correct, Dave?

        1. Yessir. Slurry Pavers of Glen Allen, Va. concocted sealer recipe to track promoter Paul Sawyer’s specs, whick included silica for traction. In a news release I may (did) have mentioned the silica was from a South Seas island. In reality I have no idea where the silica originated. I should assume the nearest Henrico County, Va. sand pit containing fine grain beach type sand. However, the media bought the exotic silica story and we got more publicity than usual concerning the sealer.

  2. I know that this hasn’t got anything to do with the new aero package, but the RTA announced that they boycotted the quarterly meeting today with NASCAR. And you guessed it, it’s all about money, and the new TV deal money split. I was exception this, just not this early in the season. Sounds like it’s going to be a bumpy summer for all!!

    1. Thanks Ron.

      Heard that. It was not good and was made doubly bad because in doing so they stood up Jim France, who the RTA insisted be at these meetings.

      They want to meet with him (which says something about what they think of Steve Phelps and company), he shows… they don’t.

      Not a good look and not sure what was gained by it other than to show the NASCAR world there is trouble in River City.

      Probably nothing some open dialogue and extensive collaboration can’t fix.

      I think you’re right, that it’s going to be a bumpy summer.

      With all that’s going on on and off the track, it’s starting to look more like a rodeo (no disrespect to rodeos)

      Hang on!

  3. Great reading and analysis of that race. I also enjoyed the comments and everyone discussing and/or adding to it. I have taken much thought provoking info away from this one.
    Sorry I don’t respond to all articles, but I do read them and appreciate them. Thank you

  4. “What an exciting race at Richmond! It’s always interesting to see how changes in car design and technology affect the outcome of NASCAR races. The question of whether the new aero played a role in breaking records is certainly worth exploring. It’s clear that the new package has increased downforce and stability, which could have contributed to the faster speeds and closer racing we witnessed. However, it’s also worth noting that the skill and strategy of the drivers and teams can never be discounted. No matter what changes are made to the cars, it’s ultimately up to the drivers to make split-second decisions and outmaneuver their opponents. Overall, it’s great to see the sport evolving and pushing the limits of what’s possible. Thanks for providing such insightful analysis of this thrilling race!”

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