For nearly 100 years, the Brickyard has been the proving ground for some of the greatest American racing drivers. It’s considered the Mecca for racing enthusiasts. While it might be hard to believe, this year was no different. This year, the Brickyard held the NASCAR Gander Outdoors 100, the largest and most prestigious race in North America. Over 200,000 fans came out to witness the intense competition and spectacular finishes that make up the National Football League’s (NFL) halfway point. The weather was perfect, the cars were stunning, and the atmosphere was electric.
What better way to cap off an awesome NFL season than by taking a look back at the season’s biggest events and determining which teams and drivers performed best? Thanks to the wonderful folks at NASCAR Stats & Info, we have a complete list of every driver’s average starting position, average finishing position, and points earned in all the major races this year. With the help of these stats, let’s take a quick look back at the season and see how the 2019 NASCAR contenders did!
Starting And Finishing Positions
Before we begin, let’s define the terms we’ll be using:
- Starting position: Where a driver begins a race
- Finishing position: Where a driver ends a race
- Average position: The average position of a driver over the course of a race; equal weight is given to all the stages
- Positive position: The driver had a better position than the average driver over the course of the race
- Negative position: The driver had a worse position than the average driver over the course of the race
Some context: For full-time drivers, there were 23 races this year. The starting positions were determined by the driver’s skill and equipment, while the finishing positions were largely determined by the draft, or the order in which the engine revs during the race. It’s interesting to note that 19 of the races were won from the starting position. In other words, 83% of the 2019 wins were achieved from an excellent start. Only one of the 23 races was won from a poor finish. Let that sink in for a minute.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the 2019 starting and finishing positions. For starters, the 2019 season was full of surprises. Most predicted that the five main U.S. auto racing series would be consolidated into two or three series. Instead, the season boasted 23 different series—which is unprecedented in the modern era of American racing. Let that sink in for a minute as well. More surprising still, is that even though there are 23 different series, there were only four teams that earned the distinction of being an official 2019 NASCAR Champions. Those four teams were:
- Toyota (12 wins)
- Mazda (9 wins)
- Hoosiers (8 wins)
- Fiat (7 wins)
Let’s take a closer look at the Toyota and Mazda entries, since those were the only two teams to win multiple races this year. The two teams combined to win 12 out of 23 races. In other words, 5 out of 6 races were won by Toyota or Mazda drivers. That’s an outstanding 0.833 wins per race. In fact, those two teams alone accounted for 33% of the 2019 wins. Not bad for a combined total of just four teams.
Now, let’s take a look at the average starting and finishing positions for all the races this year. As mentioned before, starting positions are based on the driver’s skill and equpment, while finishing positions are based on the draft. The good news for fans of racing is that, for the most part, the cars raced this year were quick and maneuvered well. In other words, the starting and finishing positions were usually among the top 10. Also, as expected, the faster you go, the better your position tends to be. The following chart ranks the average starting and finishing positions for all the drivers in each major race. The higher a rank, the better:
- 1 = Worst Average Position
- 2 = Better Average Position
- 3 = Best Average Position
If you compare these numbers to last year’s race, you’ll notice a marked improvement. It seems that all the pre-race hype was true. This year, the cars were much faster and more exciting to watch. Also, the competition was fierce, which is evident from the fact that only four teams claimed the 2019 NASCAR championship. In other words, the drivers this year were much more aggressive and competitive. Let’s take a quick look at how the average driver performed in comparison to the 2019 season before discussing the top three performing teams and drivers.
Average Starting Positions
One of the first things that jumped out to me when comparing the average starting positions for this year and last year was the difference in the pole sitter positions. Remember, this race was won from pole position. For the most part, the average starting positions were near the back of the pack. In fact, they were typically near the very end of the field. However, there were a couple of outliers, including one of the most talented drivers, Kurt Busch. Of the 23 races this year, only one started from the front row—and that was the Daytona 500. Out of the 23 races, Kurt Busch started from the front row in seven of them. In two of the remaining races, he started from the back. This is quite the contrast to the 2019 season, when the average starting position was 29th, a full 20 positions behind the pole sitter. The good news is that Kurt Busch was one of the few drivers who actually improved his average starting position this year. In fact, his average starting position improved by 5 spots. That’s an impressive feat. It’s also important to note that had Kurt Busch not won the race at the last minute, his average starting position would have been 19th, a very good position for the weekend’s final round of qualifying.
Top Three Performing Teams
Now, let’s take a quick look at the top three performing teams this year. The following table shows all the teams with at least four wins this year and their NASCAR Championship odds from Betonline.ag:
- Team: 3-Year Winning Percentage: Points Ratio: Championship Odds
- Budweiser: 10/1
- Toyota (with 11 victories): 8/1
- Mazda (with 9 victories): 7/1
Surprisingly, the team with the best 3-year winning percentage was not one of the big three of NASCAR, but rather, a team that most people probably wouldn’t put in that category: Budweiser. Budweiser is the American brewery that sponsors the NASCAR Cup Series. A lot of people, especially those in the beer industry, will tell you that the most important thing to a brewery is loyalty. The more loyal a brewery is to its customers, the more popular the beer will be. Apparently, the people at Budweiser have been taking that advice. This year, they won 10 out of 23 races, or 42% of the races. Despite this being their best season yet, they are still quite a long shot to win the NASCAR Cup championship. For now, they are in the middle of the pack, with an 8/1 shot at winning the title.
The next team on the list is Toyota, which had one of the most impressive years in the history of the 500-mile-plus Cup series. The Japanese automaker has won 12 out of 23 races this year and has an incredible 3-year winning percentage of 83%. That means they’ve won 3 out of every 4 races. They also hold the record for the most consecutive wins in the history of the NASCAR Cup series with 16 straight wins from 2016 to 2019. Most impressively, they have yet to lose a race. Even more impressive is that 12 of their wins came at NASCAR’s most famous track: Texas Motor Speedway.
The final team on the list is Mazda, with their 9 victory season and amazing 3-year winning percentage of 77%. Like Toyota, they also won the majority of their races at famous tracks, namely, Homestead-Miami, California, and Watkins Glen. They are one of the biggest surprises this year, considering how poorly they performed in 2018. However, their inconsistency can be explained by the fact that they are in the process of transitioning to a new chassis, which was met with mixed reviews. Nevertheless, with testing starting this week, they have an outside chance at dethroning the three-time champions. Although they have yet to win a championship, their 3-year winning percentage is still incredibly high.