In the Loop 2007-04-04

'In The Loop' Quality Passes Lead to Quality Results DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 4, 2007) -- The essence of statistics is explanation. Why is a driver doing so well? How competitive was a particular race? Why is one driver performing better than...

'In The Loop'
Quality Passes Lead to Quality Results

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 4, 2007) -- The essence of statistics is explanation. Why is a driver doing so well? How competitive was a particular race? Why is one driver performing better than another?

In 2006, NASCAR began distributing a stat which separates those who finish in the top 10 to those who finish at the back. The stat is known as the "Quality Pass." A Quality Pass is one in which a driver passes a car that's in the top 15 while under green flag conditions. Baseball has a similar stat -- the Quality Start (given to a starting pitcher who pitches six full innings and gives up three runs or less).

The two versions of "quality" stats highlight the fundamental purpose of competition: winning.

Passing any car is a tough proposition. Passing a car in the top 15? That's where trophies are won and legacies are made.

In a way, a Quality Pass is almost as good as leading a lap, in terms of points.

Look at it this way: If the 15th-place car passes the 14th-place car and stays in that position in the final race results, the driver will pick up three points (15th place gets 118 points, 14th gets 115). Better yet, if a driver passes a car that's between sixth and 10th place, it's four points. From first to fifth, it's another five. The difference between leading a lap and a Quality Pass, is a lap led equals guaranteed points.

Every driver in the top 10 Martinsville Quality Pass rankings except Burton improved their position in the standings from the previous race at Bristol. Gordon upped his points lead from three to 28 after Martinsville. Kyle Busch jumped from fifth to sixth in the points standings. Bowyer went from eighth to seventh place. Kurt Busch moved from 20th to 17th. Hamlin jumped from ninth to sixth. Johnson remained in third, but closed the gap between himself and Gordon. Raines jumped from 30th to 26th. Stewart jumped from 12th to eighth and Edwards moved from 10th to ninth.

One driver has done it more times and has become more prolific at the craft than any other this season thus far: Jeff Burton. There's little wonder, then, that Burton sits in second place, a mere 28-points from leader Jeff Gordon.

Burton has 451 Quality Passes. But the most stunning part of that number is that it makes up an overwhelming percentage of his total passes. On the season, Burton has 551 passes. That means 81.9% of his passes have been of cars in the top 15. When Burton passes a car, he makes it count.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch