How Can You Use NASCAR Driver Ratings to Pick Your Winner?

By Brian Berg Jr.

If you follow NASCAR, read about NASCR, watch video about NASCAR at some point in time someone will talk about this drivers track rating or that drivers track rating and who might be better.  Sounds like some great piece of information, knowing in advance how a driver performs on any one particular track relative to the other drivers.  How much importance should you give it?  What really is a great rating? Can the numbers themselves indicate something about the actual individual track?

Where do the media get these driver ratings?  Accredited members of NASCAR media get a Statistical Advance from NASCAR Media which lists the driver ratings of the current top 12 in points as well as the top 12 in driver ratings for that particular track. They do not calculate the numbers themselves.  If they did everyone would have significantly different numbers leading to mass confusion.  So, how do they calculate the NASCAR Driver Ratings?  Well you are welcome to go to and look it up.  Your head will spin.  That is why it is good that it is done for us.

Here is what you need to know.  The rating is calculated based on the performance at a set number of races.  The last few weeks they have used 14 races or 7 seasons to calculate the rating, there are two races a season at those particular tracks.  If a track doesn’t have as much history they use less.  It really doesn’t matter how many races only that the number is large enough to provide a statistic but not so large to include circumstances that have been significantly different than exists currently.  Including statistics for a track prior to reconfiguration would make prior numbers unreliable.  That leads to what to do with those numbers.

The only number that is important and set is that if your driver was perfect at any one particular track their rating would be 150. No one is perfect but the closer your driver is to 150 the more that statistic screams that that particular driver is really good at that track.  Consequently the further away the driver rating is away from 150 the more likely that driver struggles at that particular track.

To make things really interesting and put your driver into perspective the driver ratings between all the top 12 drivers at any particular track can be compared with one another.  This can tell you many things.  One is that there might be only two to four drivers with a really high rating then the other top 12 drivers.  If picking a fantasy driver you would want one of the top four.  If all 12 drivers were very close then each one statistically has about the same chance making prediction harder.

If the ratings of the top 12 drivers are compared with the top 12 at the next track this can reveal information about the tracks themselves.   Here is an example to help you understand the ratings.

Prior to the Spring 2012 race at Richmond International Raceway the top 5 drivers at Richmond by driver rating were Denny Hamlin (117.6), Kyle Busch (114.8), Kevin Harvick (112.6), Jeff Gordon (98.5), and Clint Bowyer (96.3).  Notice how Denny and Kyle are very close to the magical 150 mark and after Kevin the numbers drop off significantly.  The statistics for this race scream Denny or Kyle.  Note Kyle Busch won the race for the fourth consecutive year.

Prior to the Spring 2012 race at Talladega Superspeedway the top 5 drivers by driver rating at Talladega were Jeff Burton (91.3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (90.2), Denny Hamlin (88.7), Joey Logano (88.6) and Brian Vickers (87.3).  Unlike the numbers for Richmond these don’t scream for any one particular driver.  The reason they don’t is that the ninth driver at Richmond by driver rating had a rating of 91.5 or more than the first driver at Talladega.  These statistics show that at Talladega all the drivers have a relatively good chance of winning statistically.  It also backs up the comment by the media that this track is a crap shoot, given the right circumstances anyone can win.

Using the driver ratings to pick your winner for a particular race is good but it might also help to consider who has a higher average finish or more wins at a particular track.  This is a good way to choose between ties or drivers who are very close.  This puts more emphasis on who can deliver the wins or good finish.

Follow me on Twitter @brian_jr1.  If you are on Twitter, I made some openly available lists of Drivers, NASCAR PR people, NASCAR Media people, Other NASCAR writers and fun NASCAR Inanimate objects to follow.  Look for them.

Top 12 Driver Rating at Richmond
Denny Hamlin 117.6
Kyle Busch 114.8
Kevin Harvick 112.6
Jeff Gordon 98.5
Clint Bowyer 96.3
Tony Stewart 95.4
Ryan Newman 93.0
Kurt Busch 92.7
Mark Martin 91.5
Jimmie Johnson 88.6
Carl Edwards 86.4
Jeff Burton 85.6


Top 12 Driver Rating at Talladega
Jeff Burton 91.3
Dale Earnhardt Jr 90.2
Denny Hamlin 88.7
Joey Logano 88.6
Brian Vickers 87.3
David Ragan 87.1
Kurt Busch 86.2
Tony Stewart 84.3
Matt Kenseth 83.7
Jeff Gordon 82.6
Jimmie Johnson 81.9
Juan Pablo Montoya 81.8


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