Dr. Diandra: RFK Racing by the Numbers – NASCAR Talks


Control by the manufacturer, owner, or driver increases or decreases over time. The racing team now known as RFK Racing is a prime example. Now let’s look at RFK Racing in numbers.

The team (then called Roush Racing) ran its first race in 1998. By strategically pooling data from multiple cars and sharing resources, it has become a NASCAR powerhouse.

Roush is the only organization with five full-time Cup-level cars and the only company with five cars in the championship playoff system.

In 2010, NASCAR limited each owner to no more than four Cup Series teams to prevent a few very large companies from dominating the series.

Roush cut one car in 2010 and one in 2011. By 2017, the company had deployed only two of his vehicles.

Roush merged with the Fenway Sports Group to become Roush Fenway Racing in 2007 and moved to RFK Racing last year when Brad Keselowski became driver and co-owner.

RFK has 90 poles in 137 races, but the chart below shows the decline in recent years. The team has not won a race since 2017, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had his career-best Cup season, winning at Talladega and Daytona.

Column chart showing number of Roush/Roush-Fenway/RFK race wins from 1998 to present

RFKs in 2022

Brad Keselowski is the Cup Series champion with 35 wins in 472 races. Chris Buescher has one win in his seventh full-time cup series his season.

The next-generation car was meant to minimize the advantage built up by the dominant team. Teams like Trackhouse Racing have delivered on that promise, with wins and top 10 finishes.

RFK’s season got off to a promising start, with both drivers winning the Daytona Duels. Things went downhill from there.

Keselowski has yet to make the Top 5 and has only three Top 10 finishes. His winning streak, in which he has won at least one race every season since 2011, is in jeopardy. On a more positive note, he has only had his two DNFs in his year, with cars failing to finish the race increasing by 55.6% of his.

Two graphs showing Brad Keselowski rank (top graph, scatterplot) and exit (bottom graph, bars)

A 100-point penalty imposed after the team changed a single-supplier part caused Keselowski’s ranking drop from which he has not recovered.he is 28 years oldth at points.

Keselowski has been involved in 10 high-profile accidents and 1 spin, ranking 5th for most accidents, spins and stalls. However, these 11 incidents of his occurred only in his seven races. In each of his four different races he had two incidents.

The veteran driver has led 73 laps this season, 67 of them in the Daytona 500. The team suffered six penalties during the race and had to start two races from behind due to unapproved adjustments.

Buescher is 23rdrd 1 Top 5 and 6 Top 10s. He has four DNFs and missed one race due to COVID concerns. His best finish this year is his second place at Sonoma.

Two charts showing Chris Buescher's rank (top chart, scatterplot) and exit (bottom chart, bars)

Buescher has been in the spotlight this season with more bad luck than racing. He was the first driver to roll a next-gen car and stayed in his car during a spectacular fire on his course on the roads of Indianapolis. After the fire was extinguished, Buescher drove his car to finish tenth.

Both RFK drivers are among the stronger closers. Keselowski scored a net gain of 20 in his final 10% of races this season and Buescher scored his 24.

Is speed an issue?

Even after Kevin Harvick’s victory at Michigan last week, Ford has the fewest wins (five) of any manufacturer in the Cup Series. But the RFK race lags behind even Ford in speed.

The chart below compares the average starting positions of the top 10 Ford drivers. Buescher is his fifth and Keselowski is his tenth. Chevrolet’s Kyle Larson holds the top spot with an average starting position of 9.00.

Horizontal scatterplot comparing Ford team qualifiers

The second measure of speed is the driver’s blue flag speed ranking from the loop data. Keselowski and Buescher each had blue flag speeds in the top 10 rankings this year.

The numbers in brackets in the table below indicate the rank of the driver at each track.Table showing the tracks where RFK drivers recorded the top 10 speedsBuescher is ranked in the top 10 with 8 tracks and Keselowski with 3 tracks. All three of Keselowski’s best tracks are also tracks that Buescher has done well. Richmond is his one such track, offering a glimmer of hope for this weekend.

Conversely, each driver has a race outside the top 25 in green flag speed.

Table showing tracks where RFK drivers have speed below rank 25
* Round 2 of Atlanta. Buescher ranked 16th in his first Atlanta race.

Please excuse the following graph. It looks complicated, but it’s easy to make clear.

A single number, such as the average or median, provides a limited amount of information about a driver’s performance. The boxplot consolidates information about all races run by the driver during the season.

Boxplot comparing green flag speed rankings for Ford drivers

Here’s the secret code:

  • If you just want the basics, focus on the red lines on each bar. These represent the median rank of drivers across all 23 races. In half the races, drivers ranked lower than the median on green flag speed, and in the other half they ranked higher than the median. arranged in order of
  • Each driver’s bar shows the ranking of the middle 50% of the races (the most representative of the driver’s year).
    • A short bar indicates that the driver is consistent. Ryan Blaney ranked between his 4th and his 12th in green flag speed for half the races this year.
    • A longer bar means less consistency. Buescher’s bar is 8-20.
  • The “whiskers”, lines extending from the ends of the box, indicate the highest and lowest ranking points. These are his 50% of each driver’s race highs and lows.

These green diamonds are the races that statistically need attention, as the rankings were significantly different from the drivers’ normal ranges.

Ryan Blaney, for example, has blue flag speed rankings from 1st to 20th in 22 races. A ranking of 25 (on Loudon) is so far off that it should be considered an anomaly.

The first thing this graph tells us about RFK is that while the RFK drivers aren’t leading Ford in green flag speed, they aren’t even trailing behind.

  • Buescher is one of four Ford drivers (Blaney, Harvick and Logano) ranked first in blue flag speed in the race.
  • Buescher’s median green flag speed rank is 18 this season, placing him sixth among Ford drivers.
  • Buescher’s bar extends much further down than it does up. The number of races he ranked from his 18th to his 21st (3rd) is the same number as from 18th to his 8th (10th).

About Keselowski:

  • His median green flag speed rank is 20, eighth among Ford’s top ten drivers.
  • His bar is short, so he’s consistent. The problem is that he’s consistently ranked around number 20.
  • The most notable aspect of the chart is that all three of Keselowski’s top 10 rankings are statistical outliers. Having been ranked 7th twice, we can only see 2 out of 3 points.

The team showed speed, but it wasn’t fast enough or the speed wasn’t consistent.

The fact that Buescher outperforms Keselowski on most metrics isn’t all that surprising. His two most devastating events in a person’s life are the death of a loved one and his career change. The Keselowski family lost his patriarch in December 2021, and multiple race-proven drivers struggled in their first years with the new team.

Keselowski’s or Bucher’s wins aren’t entirely out of the question for surprises this year. Especially if it’s a potential spoiler at Daytona.



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