Dominance — whether or not by producers, house owners or drivers — waxes and wanes with time. The racing staff now often called RFK Racing is a chief instance. So let’s have a look at RFK Racing by the numbers.
The staff (then known as Roush Racing) ran its first race in 1998. It turned a NASCAR powerhouse by strategically pooling information from a number of vehicles and sharing assets.
Roush stays the one group to have fielded 5 full-time Cup-level vehicles — and the one firm to put 5 vehicles within the championship playoff system.
In 2010, NASCAR restricted every proprietor to not more than 4 Cup Collection groups to stop a small variety of very giant corporations from dominating the collection.
Roush minimize one automotive in 2010 to satisfy the mandate, and one other in 2011. By 2017, the corporate was fielding solely two vehicles.
Roush merged with Fenway Sports activities Group in 2007 to turn into Roush Fenway Racing, after which transitioned to RFK racing final 12 months when Brad Keselowski turned driver and part-owner.
Though RFK has gained 137 races and 90 poles, the graph under reveals its decline in recent times. The staff hasn’t gained a race since 2017, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had his career-best Cup season with wins at Talladega and Daytona.
RFK in 2022
Brad Keselowski is a Cup Collection champion with 35 wins over 472 races. Chris Buescher, in his seventh full-time Cup Collection season, has one win.
The Subsequent Gen automotive was supposed to reduce the benefits dominant groups had constructed up. Groups like Trackhouse Racing seized on that promise, incomes wins and top-10 finishes.
RFK’s season began out promising, with each drivers profitable their Daytona Duels. Issues went downhill from there.
Keselowski has but to submit a top-5 end and has solely three prime 10s. His streak of profitable not less than one race every season since 2011 is in jeopardy. On a extra optimistic notice, he solely has two DNFs in a 12 months with a 55.6% increase in vehicles failing to complete races.
A 100-point penalty assessed after the staff modified a single-supplier half triggered a drop in Keselowski’s rating from which he has not recovered. He stands 28th in factors.
Keselowski has been concerned in 10 caution-causing accidents and one spin, which places him fifth for many accidents, spins and stalls. These 11 incidents, nevertheless, occurred in solely seven races: He had two incidents in every of 4 totally different races.
Whereas the veteran driver has led 73 laps this season, 67 of these laps have been within the Daytona 500. He’s led solely 4 since. The staff has incurred six in-race penalties and needed to begin two races from the again resulting from unapproved changes.
Buescher ranks 23rd with one top-five and 6 top-10 finishes. He had 4 DNFs and missed one race resulting from COVID issues. His finest end this 12 months is a second at Sonoma.
Buescher has gotten extra consideration for dangerous luck this season than for his racing. He was the primary driver to roll the Next Gen car and remained in his automotive throughout a spectacular fire on the Indianapolis highway course. After the fireplace was put out, Buescher drove the automotive to a Tenth-place end.
Each RFK drivers are among the many stronger closers. Keselowski has a internet achieve of 20 within the ultimate 10% of races this season, whereas Buescher has 24.
Is velocity the issue?
Even after Kevin Harvick’s win at Michigan final week, Ford has the fewest wins (5) of any producer within the Cup Collection. However RFK racing lags in velocity, even amongst Fords.
The graph under compares the common beginning positions of the top-10-ranked Ford drivers. Buescher is fifth and Keselowski Tenth. Chevrolet’s Kyle Larson holds the highest spot with a mean beginning place of 9.00.
A second measure of velocity is a driver’s green-flag velocity rating from loop information. Keselowski and Buescher have every demonstrated top-10-ranked inexperienced flag velocity this 12 months.
The parenthetical numbers within the desk under point out the motive force’s rank at every observe.Buescher ranks top-10 at eight tracks and Keselowski at three. All three of Keselowski’s finest tracks are additionally tracks the place Buescher did properly. Richmond is a type of tracks, providing a glimmer of hope for this weekend.
On the different finish, every driver has races at which they have been out of the top-25 in green-flag velocity.
Bear with me on the following graph: It seems complicated, however — I promise — it’s easy to unravel.
Single numbers, like averages or medians, present a restricted quantity of details about a driver’s efficiency. Boxplots consolidate details about each race a driver’s run in a season.
Right here’s the key code:
- When you simply need the fundamentals, deal with the pink traces on every bar. They characterize the motive force’s median rank over all 23 races. In half the races, the motive force ranked decrease than the median in green-flag velocity, and ranked greater than the median within the different half. I’ve organized the drivers so as of median rank from finest to worst going left to proper.
- Every driver’s bar reveals the rankings for the center 50% of races — these races which might be most consultant of the motive force’s 12 months.
- A brief bar tells you the motive force is constant. Ryan Blaney ranked between fourth and twelfth in green-flag velocity in half the races this 12 months.
- An extended bar means they’re much less constant. Buescher’s bar ranges from eight to twenty.
- The “whiskers” — the traces coming from every finish of the field — mark one of the best and worst rankings. These are one of the best and worst 50% of every driver’s races.
These inexperienced diamonds are races wherein the rating was so totally different from the motive force’s standard vary that statistics make it essential to name our consideration to it.
Ryan Blaney, for instance, had green-flag velocity rankings from 1 to twenty in 22 races. The rating of 25 (at Loudon) was thus far off that we must always view it as an anomaly.
The very first thing this graph tells us about RFK is that whereas the RFK drivers aren’t main the Fords in green-flag velocity, they’re additionally not on the tail finish.
- Buescher is certainly one of solely 4 Ford drivers (with Blaney, Harvick and Logano) to have ranked first in green-flag velocity at a race.
- Buescher’s median green-flag velocity rank is eighteen for the season, sixth amongst Ford drivers.
- Buescher’s bar extends a lot additional down than up. He has the identical variety of races wherein he ranked from 18 to 21 (3 positions) as he does 18 to eight (10 positions).
As for Keselowski:
- His median green-flag velocity rank is 20, eighth out of the top-10 Ford drivers.
- His bar is brief, which implies he’s constant. The issue is that he’s persistently ranked round 20.
- Probably the most telling facet of the graph is that every one three of Keselowski’s top-10 rankings are statistical outliers. You’ll be able to solely see two of the three factors as a result of he ranked seventh twice.
Whereas the staff has proven velocity, it hasn’t been sufficient velocity, or the velocity hasn’t been constant.
The truth that Buescher outperforms Keselowski in most metrics isn’t actually stunning. Two of essentially the most disruptive occasions in an individual’s life are the dying of a beloved one and a job change. The Keselowski household lost its patriarch in December 2021, and a couple of race-proven driver has struggled within the first 12 months with a brand new staff.
On this 12 months of surprises, a win by Keselowski or Buescher shouldn’t be solely out of the query — particularly if certainly one of them has the possibility to be a spoiler in Daytona.