Dealing with, danger mitigation key to profitable Daytona 500
What matters in today’s race? Let’s take a look at the analysis, trends, and strategies that will shape the 63rd round of the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET at Fox):
Not so fast: Elite speed means little without proper handling
For the final positions for the Daytona 500 2020 and the individual placements for Central Speed - the latter a compilation of the average values for the speed per quarter excluding crash damage and other aberrations – a rank correlation of -1 was found, which does not symbolize any correlation. However, this hardly means that quantifiable speed is an abomination for competitors.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47, the fastest car on the circuit last season, was without a win in all four races, as did the four cars in second through fifth. Stenhouse, whose 2020 Daytona 500 pole-winning car was observed by Joey Logano as the only machine that can drive past without packing assistance, sees the merits of speed but demands more from the maneuverability of his car.
“Of course it’s important to be fast, but especially for Daytona you have to have a car that switches off better than others at Turn 4,” said Stenhouse. “There’s a lot (of riders) who get tight on Turn 4 and pull the throttle (off).”
His workaround is a freewheel setup that allows him to exit the last corner of the track to accelerate exactly as others might be forced to lift.
“It’s hard to hit people back to the start-finish line when you don’t have a car that can do it,” he said.
William Byron, with the sixth fastest Central Speed rankings in 2020, won at Daytona last August.
“You can’t win with a fool. You have to have a fast car, ”Byron told NBC Sports. “Do you have to have the fastest car? No … I think the third or fourth fastest car with the best handling is who will win. Dealing with trumps goes above and beyond because you can perform these movements and get into position. “
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin admitted that the comfort of his machine could affect speed – his 2020 car took 19th place in central speed when drawing tracks – but offers enough flexibility in handling for heroics in the late race .
“Over time, I’ve learned that my car has to do certain things in order to make the moves I have to make at the end of the race to win,” said Hamlin. “I think it’s a little off the beaten track for a simulation to say, ‘Oh, this will be the fastest. ‘I think I usually just say,’ I need the car to do this. I don’t care if it’s slower. ‘If so, I can make the movements I need and I can manipulate the air and the situation I find myself in enough to make the difference. “
Run forward at your own risk
While there was no correlation between central speed and race end in the Daytona 500 last year, the connection between central speed and average running position showed a correlation of +0.8, indicating a strong relationship. After all, the fastest cars come forward; However, the Daytona tour carries significant risk.
Poorly timed blocks, often with the rapid closure rates that are a by-product of the current set of rules, have turned the front of Daytona’s field into a danger zone. Within the top 10, three positions – the third, sixth and ninth – were each included in 50% of accidents involving multiple cars since 2017. The leading car was involved in 27% of these accidents, up from 5% in 2013-16.
The Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing teams positioned themselves near the back of the field – the safest place in the last 26 accidents at Daytona – for major stretches of last year’s event. Her decision to keep track of the scores in the middle of the race created confusion among watchers on social media and led recently retired crew chief Cole Pearn to tune in on Twitter:
I am amazed that people don’t understand risk management. Why are you risking a crash for a few irrelevant milestone points or the chance to win the Daytona 500? 🤦♂️
– Cole Pearn (@colepearn) February 17, 2020
While it is logical for top teams to choose their seats, not every juggernaut is a pacifist on stage. Team Penske drivers Logano (9.0), Brad Keselowski (10.6) and Ryan Blaney (12.2) finished first, second and fifth in the average running position in last year’s Daytona 500. Logano is aware of the increased risk, but does not plan to deviate from what it believes is its best chance of winning.
“I’d rather race up there than drive around all day and still fall,” said Logano. “At least I can say that I’ve done something and learned a little and had a little fun doing it.”
Track position gains through green flag mining cycles
Rumors of team or manufacturer orders in NASCAR are usually denied, but when drawing tracks like Daytona, orders are widely accepted and work most effectively in only one way: pit stops in green flag conditions.
While the final laps can become jack-of-all-trades among drivers, the synchronization of these prone stops ensures better positioning in the broader peloton of the race without the risk of driving through heavy traffic. If you pits quickly as a group, stragglers can continue to draw among the company’s teammates, skip positions or cut in deltas on the route.
Unsurprisingly, JGR and SHR, the two organizations that primarily avoided early-stage activities in last year’s Daytona 500, are creating excellent positions by pinpointing stops. During the four races last year on design tracks, SHR crew chief Johnny Klausmeier, who is now working with rookie Chase Briscoe, achieved the best 58 positions in the series on behalf of Clint Bowyer. James Small (for Martin Truex Jr.) and Chris Gabehart (for Hamlin) of JGR finished second and third with 41 and 34 positions that were won specifically in these scenarios.
A bevy of Chevrolet teams routinely lost positions in drafting track races without ever being overtaken. Richard Childress Racing’s Randall Burnett lost 28 places on behalf of Tyler Reddick while Hendrick Motorsports’ crew chiefs Greg Ives (for Alex Bowman) and Alan Gustafson (for Chase Elliott) oversaw the teams that lost 27 and 25 positions respectively.
Reboot to see
Thursday night’s first Duel qualifier was a green flag affair from start to finish that robbed us of a late showdown between two of the best newcomers to the drafting track in 2020.
Aric Almirola (75.00%) and Logano (70.83%) took first and second place in maintaining the position in the restart of the drawing track for drivers with 10 or more attempts from the top 14. Logano’s 22-position network in the two rounds after each restart was the largest cumulative win of the last year at Daytona and Talladega.
Kyle Busch (62.50%), Truex (62.50%) and Elliott (61.90%) were in the top 5 for retention – as measured by whether a restart point was successfully defended – while Elliott was 21 overall Scored points. Ryan Preece had a retention rate of 75.00% and a net profit of 16 positions with just eight attempts from the top 14.
If Daytona’s recent history is any indication, restarting ingenuity will play a crucial role in deciding the day’s winner. In the last six oval races at Daytona, 13 restarts fell under the last tenth of the competition.
The voting rule that was introduced in the second half of the 2020 season does not apply to today’s race. however, it would create a compelling crease. In last year’s Daytona 500, occupants in the inner groove saw significantly better retention (68.25%) than those who restarted from the outside (38.10%). During the 400 mile race last August, the outside was found to be stronger (65.31%) than the efforts of those coming off the inside (44.90%). Given the one-sided nature of double-file reboots that didn’t say the selection rule, talent and ingenuity should prevail in most short runs today.
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