The unofficial start to summer is upon us and it kicks off with the longest race day for any racing fan. Between Indy and Charlotte, fans get at least 1100 miles of racing to enjoy; and 1 driver is attempting to complete all 1100 miles. Will this attempt hurt Kurt Busch in the NASCAR race this weekend? Or will he make history this weekend; only time will tell. Until then, I provide you with my predictions for the race as well as statistical history in the Coca-Cola 600. Enjoy!
Coca-Cola (2013) Statistics:
Winner: Kevin Harvick (lead 7% of the race); Kasey Kahne lead the most laps (40.25%)
Average Speed: 130.521mph
Margin of Victory: 1.49 seconds
Lead Changes: 24
Number of Cautions: 16
Caution Laps: 61 (15.25% of the race)
First Caution: 70
Last Caution: 386
Drivers on Lead Lap: 13
2014 Driver Statistics
Jeff Gordon is still leading the way in terms of average finish (as well as the points standings), but Matt Kenseth is not letting Gordon out of his sights as they are basically very well matched this season. With the season’s longest race upon them, can they keep up their great average finishes? Or will Jimmie Johnson close the gap with a win; or even Kasey Kahne again.
This is NOT the points standings!!! These statistics are the top 16 best average finishes plus any driver who has wins that is not in that top 16.
Coca-Cola 600 Predictions
You would think the easy choice for this race is Jimmie Johnson, but you may be surprised to see that other drivers are better in recent years, mainly Kasey Kahne. Matt Kenseth is a solid Top 15 driver for the Coca-Cola 600, as is Joey Logano. If Johnson and Kahne can survive the race and avoid issues, they are both solid picks as well, perhaps even the best chances for the win. Looking further down we spot Kevin Harvick; winner of 2 races this year and 2 races in the past 10 years in this race. Harvick has been picking up his finishes the past several weeks and thus, he should be a strong contender this weekend. Who you do not see here are the rookies. Both Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson have been blowing away the statistics for rookies each week, but this race is a different monster. Neither driver has competed for such a difficult race before, but if they prepare the right way, they may be spoilers (easily) in the top 15.
Dark Horses: Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray
Avoid: Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard
*With Kurt Busch racing the double this weekend, Indy 500 plus Coca-Cola 600, his mental readiness for the NASCAR race may be in danger as he has never done this before. On top of that, his stats during this race are not the best either. However, for what he is doing this weekend, we will all be keeping a close eye on him and wish him the best in both event!*
Roush Fenway Racing has the best average finish when they venture to this long endurance race, but Hendrick Motorsports has brought home the most trophies.
Chevrolet and Ford are still battling it out this season, but Chevrolet has been extremely dominant at the Coca-Cola 600 even though Ford has bested them with their average finish. However, let us not forget about Toyota and the fact that they now have Matt Kenseth in their wheel house.
Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Key Statistics
Race Speed (mph):
95% Confidence Interval: (109.772, 157.184)
The average race speed has been creeping upwards over the past few years, but as you know by now, the number of cautions can drastically affect this. But for simplicity sake, we can say that this race will probably be faster than the average.
Margin of Victory (seconds):
95% Confidence Interval: (-4.487, 11.769)
2 races in the past 10 years have ended under caution; 1 of those was rain shortened. The closest finish was in 2005 while the largest difference came in 2008. There is no pattern or consistency to how close the finish will be in this race. Overall, however, the trending has been on a decline, but not outside of the average.
95% Confidence Interval: (11.856, 47.344)
The fewest lead changes we have seen came in 2005 when the race was shortened by rain, so that value can almost be tossed away since the race was not complete. Even with that race, the number of cautions does not seem to be too unpredictable. With trending upwards over the past few years, we can expect to see around the average if not just a few more cautions.
95% Confidence Interval: (0.967, 21.433)
The fewest number of cautions came in 2012 which is also when we saw the fastest race speed, which makes sense, right? Overall, the trending of number of cautions has been declining over the past few years, in fact declining to be under the average.
95% Confidence Interval: (0.967, 21.433)
The decline in cautions leads to a decline in caution laps (obviously). If trending holds true to both, we could see slightly fewer caution laps than average.
95% Confidence Interval: (-38.662, 160.862)
The average first caution comes about 15.4% of the way into the race, which gives us lap 61-62; but the average lap is 54. Both values are a good indication of when that first caution can come out; however, trending has been up over the past year and showing to be above the average.
95% Confidence Interval: (245.259, 461.341)
The last caution has been out with less than 6% of the race to go, or lap 353 if you take the average of the laps. So, within 50 to go, we should see the final caution; that does not line up for a close finish or a GWC, but it could always happen. Trending has been slightly down over the years, so we can expect to see the last caution come out with over 50 to go.
Drivers On The Lead Lap:
95% Confidence Interval: (6.05, 27.75)
With such a long race, it provides more opportunities for long runs and passing, thus leading to fewer drivers being on the lead lap. However, in 2014, we have seen virtually every car race for every lap possible on track, and this race should be no different; i.e. no start and park cars. Trending points to a downward pattern yet slightly above, or right at, the average.