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Brad Keselowski
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Statistically Speaking

Exploring NASCAR’s Driver Rating

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: April 4, 2019, 2:02 pm ET

Several years ago, NASCAR created the Driver Rating – a complex formula that looks at a racer’s running and finishing positions during an event.

Primary statistics (Finishing Position, Average Running Position, Average Speed in Traffic, and Fastest Laps) are supported by fixed bonuses for winning, finishing in the top 15, leading the most laps, and finishing on the lead lap. There are some other factors, but those are the highlights and the overall effect is to determine who was strong each week – regardless of finishing position.

No system is perfect, but the Driver Rating certainly takes away the peaks and valleys that may be experienced during a race. Even a quick glance at the chart below reveals who was best on a given week, even if they experienced problems near the end that kept them from Victory Lane.


Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch won their respective races en route to the top three Driver Ratings so far this year, but Kevin Harvick finished only fourth at Vegas while the race winner Joey Logano had a slightly worse rating. That will be an important distinction when the series rolls back into Nevada this fall with a championship on the line.

Periodically throughout the season, we will look back at the past 45 days to determine who has earned the best Driver Rating. That will give players an opportunity to see who is outperforming the competition.

Brad Keselowski is the only driver so far this season to score a perfect Driver Rating of 150, which he did at Martinsville Speedway. To do that, he had to win in order to get the 20 victory bonus points, but he also had to score an Average Running Position of better than 2.0. He and Chase Elliott were the class of the field, but failing to earn the requisite bonuses contributed to Elliott achieving a rating of 124.1 – which is the eighth-best since the start of the season.

Busch has been the class of the field several times during the first seven races this year. He had the best Driver Rating in back-to-back weeks at ISM Raceway and Auto Club Speedway in events that he went on to win. Last week at Texas Motor Speedway, it appeared he would be victory bound again – which would have given him a sweep of Victory Lane in all three of NASCAR’s top series – until he slapped the wall and damaged his car.

Busch’s Texas performance underlies the need of fantasy players to look at more than simply finishing results, however, because the next time the series rolls into the Lone Star State, they must remember how he ran before getting into trouble.

Ryan Blaney had a strong run going in the three races prior to Texas. He failed to win any of the three races in which he had a top Driver Rating, but he swept the top five at ISM, Auto Club, and Martinsville in consecutive weeks. That made him a driver to watch closely.

William Byron is an example of how difficult it is to be perfect at Daytona International Speedway. He had the best Driver Rating in the Daytona 500, but problems late in the race sent him home 21st. Meanwhile, the winner of that race Denny Hamlin scored only the 10th-best Driver Rating – proving that restrictor-plate superspeedways are incredible difficult to predict.

 

Driver

Driver
Rating

Race
Finish

Race

Brad Keselowski (1)

150.00

1

STP 500 (Best at Martinsville)

Kyle Busch (1)

149.70

1

TicketGuardian 500k (Best at ISM)

Kyle Busch (2)

148.50

1

Auto Club 400 (Best at Auto Club)

Kevin Harvick (1)

134.40

4

Pennzoil 400 (Best at Vegas)

Joey Logano (1)

131.50

1

Pennzoil 400

Martin Truex Jr. (1)

127.40

2

QuikTrip 500 (Best at Atlanta)

Kyle Busch (3)

126.00

10

O'Reilly 500 (Best at Texas)

Chase Elliott

124.10

2

STP 500

Ryan Blaney (1)

124.10

3

TicketGuardian 500k

Joey Logano (2)

121.40

2

Auto Club 400

Kevin Harvick (2)

121.10

4

QuikTrip 500

Denny Hamlin

119.10

1

O'Reilly 500

Kyle Busch (4)

118.60

3

Pennzoil 400

Martin Truex Jr. (2)

118.10

2

TicketGuardian 500k

Kyle Larson

117.20

12

QuikTrip 500

Brad Keselowski (2)

115.70

3

Auto Club 400

Ryan Blaney (2)

114.40

4

STP 500

William Byron

114.00

21

Daytona 500 (Best at Daytona)

Kurt Busch

112.00

3

QuikTrip 500

Ryan Blaney (3)

111.60

5

Auto Club 400

Daniel Suarez

111.40

3

O'Reilly 500

Brad Keselowski (3)

110.80

2

Pennzoil 400

Kyle Busch (5)

109.30

3

STP 500

Kyle Busch (6)

109.20

2

Daytona 500

Aric Almirola

108.60

9

Auto Club 400

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.