2019 NASCAR green passing numbers compared to the previous season
In years past, NASCAR went to low downforce. Then, they went to even lower downforce. This year, they’ve swung the pendulum on the other direction.
On paper, it’s working.
View the 2019 NASCAR passing numbers below.
For 2019, cars now have big rear spoilers, a larger front splitter and a standard radiator pan. All of those things were designed to increase the downforce on the cars. Additionally, for tracks larger than 1-mile, NASCAR has cut horsepower via a tapered spacer.
Steve O’Donnell’s group is in charge of the direction that NASCAR goes from a competition and rules standpoint. He sits in meetings with all the OEM’s to help form a rules package that is suitable for the sport.
Steve Phelps on the 2019 rules package
The newly appointed NASCAR president, Steve Phelps talked about the directional test via the Dale Jr Download, “The test really is, What do the fans want to see? And what have they seen so far?”
“At Texas, we had three times as many passes for the lead under green. You had twice as many passes throughout the field.”
“Is that good? Well, I think directionally, it’s good. The question, is that what people wanted to see?”
“Martinsville, we didn’t have a lot of passes for the lead. But, we had a ton of passing. It didn’t look like the Fall race. We didn’t have carnage and people’s emotions getting upset about what’s going on. But, that’s what short track racing is.”
“If we make a rules change or a format change and you get 80% of the fans to say, ‘Hey, I like that.’ Well, that’s good. To try to get 8 out of every 10 fans to say, ‘Hey, that works for me.’ “
“I know that’s a lot of race fans who are unhappy with you too. We can’t make everyone happy. But, if we are making the majority of race fans happy then that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
“It’s not going to be popular, every single time. Either with race fans, owners, tracks or our broadcast partners. But, to the degree that we can do that, we want to do it.”
“The most important one, and I promise I’m not catering to the fan. The most important one, is the fan. What does the fan want to see? And What kind of product do they want to see? What kind of racing do they want to see?”
NASCAR: Green flag passing numbers
1,238 (Most: Chase Elliott – 73)
1,822 (Most: Ricky Stenhouse Jr – 85)
Result: -584 (-32%)
Bristol Motor Speedway
1,822 (Most: Matt DiBenedatto – 125)
1,733 (Most: Aric Almirola – 91)
Result: +89 (+5.13%)
Texas Motor Speedway
3,489 (Most: Kurt Busch – 161)
1,776 (Most: Ricky Stenhouse Jr – 82)
Result: +1,713 (+96.45)
978 (Most: Kurt Busch – 59)
966 (Most: Alex Bowman – 56)
Result: +12 (+1.24%)
Auto Club Speedway
2,956 (Most: Chase Elliott – 139)
3,399 (Most: David Ragan – 137)
Result: -443 (-13.03%)
1,349 (Most: Kyle Larson – 76)
1,701 (Most: Ricky Stenhouse Jr – 92)
Result: -352 (-20.69%)
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3,345 (Most: Chris Buescher – 139)
2,379 (Most: Jimmie Johnson – 98)
Result: +966 (+40.60%)
Atlanta Motor Speedway
2,036 (Most: Kyle Busch – 110)
2,316 (Most: David Ragan – 94)
Result: -280 (-12.08%)
Daytona International Speedway
8,611 (Most: Kyle Larson – 362)
6,267 (Most: Martin Truex Jr – 278)
Result: +2344 (+37.40)
More NASCAR passing in 2019
Overall, NASCAR has seen 3,465 more green passes throughout the field. This compares the first nine races of the season against the same nice races the previous year.
However, NASCAR is also using three different rules packages for 2018.
Essentially, short tracks have high horsepower and high downforce. Superspeedways have a tapered spacer and high downforce (Daytona 500 excluded). The mile and a half tracks have low horsepower, high downforce and aero ducts. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the exception, a race run without aero ducts.
More passing on 1.5 mile tracks (+2,236): Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway saw 2,236 more passes in 2019. (Atlanta is excluded as the full 2019 rules package was not implemented for this race.)
Less passing on short tracks (-835): Interestingly, the exact opposite has taken place on short tracks. ISM Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway saw -835 less passes so far in 2019.
Bristol and Martinsville saw a slight bump in the number of passes from 2018. However, ISM Raceway and Richmond alone brought the overall number well down.
The short tracks are run with higher downforce than in 2018. Unlike the 1.5-mile tracks, the short track rules package doesn’t limit horsepower. So at the short tracks, teams have the same horsepower as last year but with added downforce numbers due to the bigger front splitter and rear spoiler.
Daytona: Ignored. Mostly because it’s the last time we’ll see that particular package this year. It was run with the restrictor plate, which won’t exist for the other three superspeedway races this year.
Take those numbers for what you want. What do you want? That’s the question.