As we have discussed before, the simplicity of the Watermill Score is that it can summarize what it takes to succeed in the NASCAR points system with just four basic inputs:

  • Wins
  • Top 10s
  • Lead lap finishes
  • Races at the finish

A simple count of each of these gives you the Watermill Score of zero to four, and it is almost 100 percent correlated with the real points system. We have seen it work over the course of an entire season, but what happens if we look at it just using the 10-race Chase, where championships are decided. Consider this table, which is ranked by how many points each driver scored during the 10 Chase races.

The color-coded groupings showing that each set of drivers with similar points also had similar Watermill scores. The relationship holds consistent from top to bottom.

Look at how tight the groups are:

  • The drivers with 26 watermills were within 35 points of each other
  • The drivers with 21-23 watermills were 65 points of each other
  • The drivers with 18-19 watermills were 67 points of each other

The bottom line is that what holds up over the course of 36 races also holds up in the end-of-season Chase. The Watermill Score is a great predictor of points and the simple breakdown allows teams to properly strategize during the race. The grid also shows that if you could finish each race on the lead lap, it would earn you 20 watermills. Most of the title is decided on consistency.

(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is the creator of the Watermill Score and the FLOPPER Award and edits the racing statistics blog 36 Races. E-mail him at

Related links:
What is the Watermill Score?
Visualizing Sprint Cup points accumulation
Montoya and Stewart have more in common than huge egos
How the 2009 season would have ended using different point systems
Drivers with momentum entering 2010
Replacing crew chief did not help Junior
Congratulations to Paul Menard, your 2009 FLOPPER Award winner
Winning in NASCAR is like counting cards
Chase bonus points are meaningless
Jimmie Johnson has most points at Chase tracks this season
The Watermill Score: How to win a Sprint Cup title