Bojangles' Southern 500 (2013) Statistics:
Winner: Matt Kenseth (lead 4.63% of the race)
Average Speed: 141.383mph
Margin of Victory: 3.155 seconds
Lead Changes: 9
Number of Cautions: 5
Caution Laps: 25
First Caution: 125
Last Caution: 335
Drivers on Lead Lap: 17
2014 Driver Statistics
Jeff Gordon is leading the way in average finishes for the year and that should not come as surprise. Gordon has been up front every race with his worst finish being 13th at Fontana. Gordon and Matt Kenseth are the only drivers who have 7 top 15 finishes and 5 top 10 finishes. Gordon, Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin* are the other drivers to have completed 100% of laps run this year.
*Denny Hamlin missed 1 race due to medical issues but has finished every lap in the 6 races he has been in*
This is NOT the point’s standings!!! These statistics are the top 16 best average finishes plus any driver who has wins that is not in that top 16.
Bojangles' Southern 500 Predictions
*Note that the statistics here are for Darlington Raceway and not for the year; those are above.*
With the way Jeff Gordon's year is going, and being close a few times, it is not unwise for him to be around the front for the entire race. He may not have the best average finish (see Denny Hamlin) but he has momentum and the drive to win! I am pretty confident that we will see an 8th different driver in victory lane this weekend and I expect the winner to come from Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing.
Note for Kyle Larson - he has not been to Darlington Raceway (in cup) thus he has no data; however, he does have intermediate track experience (which is part of my method of forming a power ranking) as well as having a pretty decent year with some great runs as of late. Will the track be too tough to tame for this rookie? I sure hope not!
Dark Horses: Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers, Stewart-Hass Racing (Winners)
Avoid: A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer
Joe Gibbs Racing is leading the pack after 7 races with the best average finish and a win to boast, but Hendrick Motorsports is right on their heels.
Chevrolet and Ford seem to be on top of things right now in 2014, but when it comes to Darlington, Chevy leads the way and Ford is at the bottom of the pack (in terms of wins).
Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway: Key Statistics To Look Out For
Race Speed (mph):
95% Confidence Interval: (111.372, 145.552)
The past few years have yielded a faster than average race pace; in fact the past 5 years have been on a steady increase in speed year over year with 2013 being the fastest race in recent years.
Margin of Victory (seconds):
95% Confidence Interval: (-0.877, 3.414)
The margin of victory for this race has really been up and down over the years, but the margin of victory trend has been increasing over the years; but in all honesty, this finish can be over 2 seconds or a very close finish.
95% Confidence Interval: (10.363, 36.364)
2013 gave us the lowest number of lead changes in recent years, well below the average. Trending of the data is slightly decreasing, meaning fewer lead changes, but I doubt we will see as low as we did last year, but we may see slightly below the average.
95% Confidence Interval: (3.012, 16.079)
2013 gave us the fewest number of cautions with 5; 2009 the most cautions was recorded. Every other year, we have seen around that average number of cautions; but trending wise, there is a slight decrease in cautions, but it still hovering around the average.
95% Confidence Interval: (15.065, 74.026)
We can always use the trend pattern of the average race speed to get the trend pattern for caution laps; as noted, the average speed has been increasing over the year which can correlate to fewer cautions thus fewer laps spent under caution. Going with this methodology, trending of caution laps has been decreasing over the years to slightly under the average.
95% Confidence Interval: (-65.95, 161.223)
In 2012, we saw a lot of green flag racing at the start of the race as the first caution did not come out until lap 173. In 2013, we didn’t have to wait as long for the first caution to come out, but a lot longer than the average as it came out on lap 125. Prior to those 2 years, the average was around lap 18 (and all coming within the first 50 laps of the year. Could the new car mean another long green flag run at the beginning? Or will weather be a factor and cause (another) first caution of competition caution? If trending holds, it will be around 100+ laps before the first caution holds, but I think we will see more of the usual, within the first 50 laps.
95% Confidence Interval: (256.494, 407.87)
Unlike the first caution flag, the last caution flag is not as volatile; 2006 gave us the longest run to the finish in recent years with the caution coming out on lap 249, but in more recent years, we have seen the final caution come out within 25 laps to go and with the way 2014 is going, we could easily see a shootout at the end.
Drivers On The Lead Lap:
95% Confidence Interval: (13.653, 23.947)
2006 gave us the fewest drivers on the lead lap (6 cautions and a long green flag run to the end will do that). Trending wise, the number of drivers on the lead lap has been pretty flat thus 18 to 20 drivers on the lead lap is to be expected.