In 2022, warnings have been raised despite fewer warnings at the end of stages and competitions since stage races began. The third edition of 2022 in numbers focuses on the reasons (and reasonsera) warnings.
I divide warnings into scheduled warnings, such as competitions and breaks at the end of the stage, and so-called “natural” warnings. Natural cautions include crashes, spins, stalled cars, debris or fluid on the track, and weather.
My first chart shows that 302 warnings this year is the highest number of warnings since 2014. And this despite only 73 scheduled warnings, the fewest since the start of the multi-day race.
There were 43 more warnings in the 2022 season than in 2021 and 57 more natural warnings than last year. These are the most natural warnings since 2016.
Caution classification is subjective. Obviously, a spinning car is spinning, and a collision between cars is an accident. But if a car spins and then crashes into another car, is it a crash or an accident? If an accident occurs on a stretch, do you record the warning as an accident or a break in the stretch?
This year, an even more acute problem arose.
More tires and wheels came off cars in the 2022 season than in any other season I can remember. NASCAR has classified some blown tire incidents as a debris alert and others as accidents.
It seems to me that a burst tire is fundamentally different from a part of a car stuck on the track.
Lots of tire and rim issues prompted me to look at all 302 warnings. I’ve added three additional warning categories: wheel problems, fire problems, and tires.
Tire problems were indicated in this way only if the blown tire preceded the crash or spin. Tires that explode due to wall contact or flat spots are not included. If I couldn’t tell for sure that the blown tire came first, I left the warning in its original category.
My recategorization makes it difficult to compare category warnings with previous years. This concern is offset by the need to establish a benchmark to measure next year’s data.
The table below compares my warning breakdown to NASCAR’s breakdown for the 2022 season. I admit, I’m not entirely objective either. But I think my classification better reflects the general nature of the 2022 season.
The most amazing statistic is the unusually high number of spins. Cup Series racers turned around 20 to 27 times per season in the period from 2016 to 2021. Drivers in 2022 rotated 60 times.
This number of spins has not been seen since 2007, when 66 spins were recorded in the series. This was the first year of the Gen-5 car; however, the number of spins this year is similar to the number of Gen-4 cars. Fans wanted a car that was harder to drive. The spin stats are a good argument that their wish came true.
Drivers in crashes, corkscrews and stalls
I treat crash, spin and stop as one category due to questions about the differences between the two. “Incidents” combines all the spins, all the accidents and all the stalls.
And remember: being involved in an accident does not mean that the driver caused Incident.
The chart below shows all drivers with 12 or more incidents in the 2022 season.
Remember also that this count does not include wheel or tire problems. A driver’s accident due to a blown tire is fundamentally different from an accident or a slip.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as well as Ross Chastain were involved in the most accidents in 2022. Both drivers were involved in 15 accidents. Stenhouse also had two spins and a counter, while Chastain had three spins. Stenhouse led incidents requiring caution in 2021 with 17 accidents.
Kyle Bush ranks third in total incidents and first in spins with seven. In comparison, no other rider has had more than four spins.
The Coca-Cola 600 was the longest Cup Series race in history in terms of mileage. His 18 warnings also helped make it long in terms of time.
But longer races give more opportunities to crash. The best metric is the number of accidents per 100 miles driven. I have removed stage and event warnings because the scheduled warnings are independent of race duration.
The 14 warnings at the dirt race in Bristol were the third highest after the Coca-Cola 600 and 16 warnings in Texas. But the dirt race was the shortest race of the season at 133.25 miles.
This gives the Bristol Mud Race a whopping 9.0 natural warnings per 100 miles of race. Last year the Bristol dirt race was also at the top of the list with a total of 7.4 warnings per 100 miles of race.
The Bristol asphalt race finished second in 100 mile warnings with 3.4. The two races at Bristol are followed by COTA (3.0) and Texas (2.8).
What about super fast lanes?
The only super speedway race in the top 10 100 mile warning charts is the second race in Atlanta. The fall Talladega race this year had the fewest 100 mile warnings of any oval at 0.80.
But on superhighways, there are more cars per accident. The Summer Daytona had 46 cars involved in five crashes, averaging 9.2 cars per crash. Some cars have been involved in multiple crashes, so the total number of cars in crashes is greater than the number of cars in the race.
The fall Talladega race has the second highest wreckage per crash, with an average of 8.0 cars. The Talladega spring race is linked to the Bristol asphalt race. Both had an average of 7.0 vehicles per accident.
In 2022, Road America had the fewest warnings of any race. With just two stage break warnings, Road America had 0.0 natural warnings per 100 miles. Sonoma had 0.72 natural warnings per 100 miles and Charlotte Roval 0.78.
We usually use alerts as a proxy for counting accidents and rotations. The problem is that not every accident causes alertness – especially on road courses. There were seven warnings for wheels coming off cars, with some wheels coming off in pit road. Some drivers limped back into the pits after losing their wheels.
And there were many more spins that did not trigger warnings.
Next week I will tell you about all this.
Both Front Row Motorsports Cup teams will receive new crew chiefs in 2023, Team Wednesay has announced.
Travis Peterson will be the crew leader of car number 34, which was driven by Michael McDowell. Peterson will replace Blake Harris, who will take over as crew chief for Alex Bowman at Hendrick Motorsports in 2023.
31-year-old Peterson worked as a race engineer. He spent the last five seasons with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. He worked with drivers Chris Buescher, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth at the time. Peterson previously worked as a race engineer for Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well as JR Motorsports.
“I think there are a lot of people in the NASCAR garage who are noticing what Front Row Motorsports has accomplished with the new car and their truck program,” Peterson said in a team statement.
“This is an opportunity to become a winning and championship organization and help take the next step to get more Cup Series wins and reach the playoffs. I’m ready to get to work. It has always been my goal to become a crew chief and now I am ready to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Front Row Motorsports also announced on Wednesday that Seth Barbour, who was crew chief of the No. 38 he was driving Todd Gillilandwas appointed the technical director of the organization. Barbour will oversee all track design and vehicle preparation for the Front Row Motorsports Cup cars.
The new crew leader of Team 38 will be announced at a later date.
In addition, Ryan Bergenti, Automotive Team Principal No. 34, has been named Director of Performance and will oversee body and chassis assembly for all Front Row Motorsports members.
“The last two seasons of Front Row Motorsports have been successful and we are taking the next steps forward,” said Jerry Freese, general manager of Front Row Motorsports.
“We know that Travis is the kind of person who can jump right in, pick up the baton and continue to move the #34 team forward. We’ve also made some internal changes to help with the preparation and design of all of our race cars and trucks. Our last part is finding a new leader for Team 38. We are confident that with these changes next season we will be even better.”
Front Row Motorsports has not announced its driver line-up for next season. Both McDowell and Gilliland have said they plan to return to the organization.