'In The Loop' At Talladega Superspeedway - Competition Tight in Restrictor Plate Races DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 25, 2007) -- The old belief that in restrictor plate racing, it's Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Inc. or bust might not...
'In The Loop' At Talladega Superspeedway - Competition Tight in Restrictor Plate Races
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 25, 2007) -- The old belief that in restrictor plate racing, it's Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Inc. or bust might not be as true as it once was.
Yes, the last two Talladega Superspeedway winners -- Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers -- were both Hendrick drivers at the time of their wins (Johnson still is, though Vickers has moved to Red Bull Racing). And all in all, 18 of the last 24 restrictor plate race winners came from either Hendrick or DEI (10 of the last 11 at Talladega; eight of the last 13 at Daytona International Speedway).
But according to the numbers, drivers from Roush Fenway Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing have made huge gains.
A shift in success -- and in perception -- may be forthcoming.
Check out some of the stats taken from the last two-plus seasons (nine races) of races in which cars use a restrictor plate (A thin metal plate with four holes that restricts airflow from the carburetor into the engine, reducing horsepower. Restrictor plates are used at two tracks, Daytona and Talladega.).
From the top-10 list, only half have won a restrictor plate race and just three are still with either Hendrick or DEI. A large number of drivers and teams have been competitive, but have yet to breakthrough for a win.
The trend continues with other key statistics. Below are the top-five restrictor plate rankings in statistics which arguably most demonstrate consistency and skill -- Average Running Position and Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 while under green flag condition).
Average Running Position
1. Tony Stewart (10.241)
2. Jimmie Johnson (11.474)
3. Jamie McMurray (11.989)
4. Matt Kenseth (12.623)
5. Jeff Gordon (13.063)
1. Jeff Burton (1,892)
2. Kurt Busch (1,805)
2. Matt Kenseth (1,805)
4. Jamie McMurray (1,758)
5. Jimmie Johnson (1,641)
Three of the top five in Average Running Position (Stewart, McMurray, Kenseth) are from teams other than Hendrick or DEI and only Johnson hails from Hendrick in the top-five Quality Pass category.
Below is yet another example of how parity is coming into form on restrictor plate tracks.
Green Flag Speed
1. Tony Stewart
2. Jamie McMurray
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Jeff Gordon
Green Flag Passes
1. Jeff Burton (2,797)
2. Kasey Kahne (2,388)
2. Carl Edwards (2,384)
4. Kevin Harvick (2,351)
5. Jamie McMurray (2,337)
In terms of Green Flag Speed, top five is represented by JGR, Roush Fenway, DEI and Hendrick, and none of the top five in Green Flag Passes fall under the DEI or Hendrick umbrella.
Of course, that's not to say Hendrick or DEI have been passed on the restrictor plate food chain. Clearly, in terms of wins, they have not. But according to the stats, it looks as if other teams have stepped up their restrictor plate programs and caught up.