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.
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!
Photo Credit (Cover); David Jensen / Getty Images