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 post ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT THE CHASE appeared first on NASCAR.

]]>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 36races@gmail.com.)

*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

The post ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT THE CHASE appeared first on NASCAR.

]]>Has changing crew chiefs made a difference for Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

Tony Eury Jr. lasted 12 races this season with Earnhardt. Since then, we’ve run another 12 races, making this the perfect time to take a snapshot of replacement Lance McGrew’s performance. Have the driver's results improved at all?

First, consider his performance all year in the table below.

The post REPLACING CREW CHIEF HAS NOT IMPROVED EARNHARDT’S PERFORMANCE appeared first on NASCAR.

]]>Has changing crew chiefs made a difference for Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

Tony Eury Jr. lasted 12 races this season with Earnhardt. Since then, we’ve run another 12 races, making this the perfect time to take a snapshot of replacement Lance McGrew’s performance. Have the driver’s results improved at all?

First, consider his performance all year in the table below.

Remember that Watermills, as I determined earlier this week, are the best way to determine the probability of winning a Sprint Cup title, and therefore overall performance. A Watermill is Wins + Top 10s + Lead Lap Finishes + Racing at the Finish.

Let’s take a look at the summary between the two halves of the season so far. My apologies for the size of the print below. You may want View-Zoom In on your browser.

At quick glance, it does not appear there have been any improvements. His main improvement has been the increase in lead lap finishes. He has experienced a marginal gain in Watermills and in his average start.

But in the last 12 races, Earnhardt actually has fewer top 10s, more DNFs, fewer points, fewer laps led and a worse average finish. He has actually scored the 21st most points in this set of 12 races, so he has done worse in the standings compared to earlier this season.

The *one* bright side is the last two races, where he scored consecutive top 10s for the first time all year. Let’s see if that picks up in the final 12 races of the season. So far there isn’t anything else hopeful to point to.

Is it too early to say that the crew chief was not Earnhardt’s problem?

Take a look at the table below. We see the breakdown of points standings for the first 12 races of the year, as well as the following 12 races. See how Earnhardt has been stuck in the same part of the pack, and has actually dropped down a bit? Guys like Marcos Ambrose, Casey Mears, Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray have leapfrogged him. They all have been able to make adjustments and improve their performance. Earnhardt’s team has not shown that capability.

Finally, the bottom table shows how each driver has improved from the first 12 races to the next 12. See Earnhardt down there in the lower portion of the pack. He is one of the drivers who have actually had a worse performance in this portion of the season compared to the previous.

The evidence suggests that replacing Tony Eury Jr. has not improved Earnhardt’s performance. We will have to wait and see if these two most recent top 10s suggest that a new trend is coming for the final third of the season.

*(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is also the editor of the racing statistics blog **36 Races**. E-mail him at 36races@gmail.com.)*

**Related links:**

The Watermill Score: How to win a Sprint Cup title

Robby Gordon attempting to defend his FLOPPER award

Busch, Vickers have equal shot at breaking into the Chase

The post REPLACING CREW CHIEF HAS NOT IMPROVED EARNHARDT’S PERFORMANCE appeared first on NASCAR.

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