Inside The Numbers: The Team Advantage

In one of my last articles, I brought up the question of whether or not organizations that field multiple cars have an advantage over organizations that have only one car racing on the NASCAR circuit. For the answer to that, I decided to do a little statistical analysis of the results of the first 8 races of this season.

2-car Organizations

First, let's look at the organizations that run 2 cars.

The first two teams I came across aren't really multiple car teams. Bill Davis Racing has two cars on paper, but when you consider that Bill Lester has only driven the #23 car in one race, finishing 38th at Atlanta, you can hardly consider that a full time ride. So in reality, Bill Davis racing is a single car operation, with an occasional second car. So, let's leave them out of the multi-car organizations for now.

Same thing goes for Front Row Motorsports. They technically have 2 cars in their organization. But between the two of them, they've only run in three races. So, let's leave them out for the time being as well.

That leaves Penske, Petty, and Yates as the 2-car organizations. So how have they fared this year?

Penske Racing has 16 starts thie season. 8 for Kurt Busch's #2 car, and 8 for Ryan Newman's #12. Of those 16 starts, Penske has tallied 1 win, 2 top 5 finishes, and 3 top 10s. That means 19% of the time, they finish in the top ten or better. Their average finish as a team is 23.0.

Petty Enterprises, with the #43 driven by Bobby Labonte, and the #45 driven by Kyle Petty, also has 16 starts this season, 8 for each car. But they haven't fared as well in their starts, tallying only 2 top 10s, with an average finish of 25.8.

Robert Yates Racing is next, with Elliot Sadler in the #38 and Dale Jarrett in the #88. In their 16 starts. they have no wins, and only 1 top 5, but they finish in the top 10 25% of the time. (That's four top 10s, for those keeping score). Their average finish is inside the top 20, at 17.9.

MB2 Motorsports is technically a three-car team, but one of those cars, Bill Elliot in the #136, has driven only once, finishing 19th at Daytona. But their other two drivers, Joe Nemechek in the #01 car, and Sterling Marlin in the #14 car, have each competed in all 8 races this year. So, even without Bill Elliot's effort, they're still a multi-car team. With 17 total starts, they only have 1 top 10 finish, and an average finish of just 25.1

3-car teams

Of the teams fielding 3 cars, Chip Ganassi Racing is the one with the least success so far this year. Their 24 total starts - 8 by Reed Sorenson in the #41, 8 by David Stremme in the #40, and 8 by Casey Mears in the #42 - have amounted to only 1 top 5, and 4 top 10 finishes, with an average finish of 23.5. That doesn't sound too bad, until you consider that they're the only team with three or more cars to have an average finish outside the top 20.

Dale Earnhardt Inc, aka DEI, is one of the most successful, although they aren't really a three car team, either. They're in the same boat as MB2. Martin Truex Jr has started all 8 races in the #1 car, as has Dale Earnhardt Jr in the #8. But Paul Menard has started only one race in the #15. He did. However, finish 7th in that effort at Atlanta. Overall, those 17 starts have garnered 2 top 5s, and 5 top 10s. So, 29% of the time, they finish in the top 10. And their average finish is just inside the top 15 at 14.9.

Everham Motors has a total of 23 starts so far, 8 for Kasey Kahne in the #9 car, 8 for Jeremy Mayfield in the #19, and 7 for Scott Riggs in the #10 car. From those starts, they have tallied 2 wins, 4 top 5s, and 8 top 10s. Checking my calculator, that means they're in the top 5 17% of the time, and the top 10 35% of the time. They average a 19.4 finish.

Joe Gibbs Racing has 24 starts this season, with 8 each from Denny Hamlin (#11), J.J. Yeley (#18) and Tony Stewart (#20). They've totaled 1 win, 6 top 5s (25% of their starts) and 8 top 10s (33% of their starts) with an average finish of 19.2.

Richard Childress Racing has 8 starts each from Clint Bowyer (#07), Kevin Harvick (#29) and Jeff Burton (#31). Those 24 starts have given RCR 1 win, 5 top 5s (21%) and a whopping 10 top 10s (that's 42% of their starts) and an average finish of 16.5.

The Largest Teams

Hendrick Motorsports started the year as a 4-car team with Kyle Busch (#5), Jeff Gordon (#24), Brian Vickers (#25) and Jimmie Johnson (#48). But they added a fifth car at Texas in the form of Terry Labonte (#44). That gives them a grand total of 33 starts for the season. Out of those starts, they've tallied 2 wins, 9 top 5s, and 16 top 10s. That means 27% of the time, they finish in the top 5, and almost half of their starts (48%) result in top 10 finishes. The average finish for the team as a whole is 14.3.

Roush Racing has done almost as well with its 5 cars, Mark Martin (#6), Greg Biffle (#16), Matt Kenseth (#17), Jamie McMurray (#26) and Carl Edwards (#99). Even with the highly publicized "struggles" of McMurray and Edwards, and the blown engines, unavoidable wrecks, and lack of fuel plaguing Biffle this season, they've still managed some fairly impressive numbers. Their 40 starts have garnered 1 win, 9 top 5s (that's 23% of their starts), and 17 top 10s (43% of their starts). On average, they finish 16.8 place.

Independents:

So, what about the "Independents"? These are the teams that have only one car. Some of them run every race, or almost every race. Some only race once all year long. But none of them have other cars in their organizations. At first, you might think these are young drivers that no one wants to take a chance on, or unknowns that haven't proven themselves. But that's not the case. There are some fairly experienced drivers in this list. They include Jeff Green (Haas CNC Racing), Robby Gordon (Robby Gordon Motorsports), Michael Waltrip (Waltrip-Jasper Racing), Scott Wimmer (Morgan-McClure MS), Travis Kvapil, and Kevin LePage. The list also includes the newly formed Hall-Of-Fame Racing, which has used two drivers already this season. Adding together all of the starts by independent drivers, there have been 89 starts so far this season. How have they fared? Out of those 89 starts, there has been ONE top ten finish, when Ken Schrader finished 9th at Daytona, driving for the Wood Brothers. Let me say that again for emphasis. Out of EIGHT-NINE starts, there was only ONE, UNO, EINE finish inside the top ten. That's no wins out of 89 tries. No top 5 finishes out of 89 tries. That matches MB2 Motorsports, who only have 17 starts to work with.

And where the 2-car teams average finish is inside the top 25, and the 3-car teams average finish is near or in the top 20, and the bigger teams finish on average in or near the top 15, these independents, as a whole, finish 29.6 on average.

So according to the numbers, the bigger the team, the better chance you have of doing well. It doesn't mean that you WILL do well. Just look at the struggles of some of the Roush drivers, or Jeremy Mayfield's slump at Everham Motors. But when you're on a team, and you struggle, there are teammates around to help you out, and hopefully pick you up out of your troubles. As an independent, you're on your own. The numbers seem to show just how true it is. And after all, The Numbers don't lie.


Published on April 27, 2006 in