Avoiding accidents is a top priority for every Saturday driver Regular season end race (7 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock) at Daytona International Speedway.
But there is no scientific way to do this.
Super speed stats
In 2021, 136 crashes and spin-alerts involved 263 cars in the Trophy Series. The four ultra-fast races accounted for 17 crashes, which is 12.5% of the season’s total.
However, the accidents in those four races involved 96 cars. This represented 36.5% of the total number of cars involved in accidents, even though high speed took only 11.1% of the schedule.
When it comes to multiple car crashes, Daytona and Talladega are an overkill.
Between 2001 and 2021, the 86 high-speed races produced 416 crashes involving 1,968 cars. Only 2 of those 86 races have been free of accidents. They were both in Talladega: the Spring 2001 race and the Fall 2002 race.
The Daytona is more suitable than the Talladega for crashes and turns. Daytona averaged 4.93 accidents per race from 2001 to 2021, while Talladega averaged 3.65.
The highest number of accidents in a single high-speed race is 12, at the 2011 Daytona 500. 41 cars were involved in accidents. This includes cars involved in more than one accident.
‘The Big One’ is not the biggest threat to qualifying hopes
While the “Big One” gets the most attention, most high-speed accidents involve only a few cars.
- 31.0% of Daytona and Talladega accidents between 2001 and 2021 involved just one car.
- 16.5% of accidents and turns are related to two cars.
- This means that nearly half of the accidents involved more than two cars.
- 56.8% of the accidents on high-speed roads involved three or fewer cars.
- About 20% of highway accidents involve seven or more cars.
- Only 4.9% of the accidents involved 15 or more cars.
Of course, it does not matter whether the driver was involved in a major or minor accident. There is no relationship between the number of cars involved and the damage to the cars.
The largest number of cars in a single crash is 26. It happened three times: twice at the Summer Daytona (in 2014 and 2018), and in the spring of 2005 at the Talladega.
So far this year, Daytona and Talladega have had nine accidents involving a total of 35 cars. The largest accident involved nine cars, but 55.5% of the accidents involved three or fewer cars.
Find a safe place
Anticipating the safest running locations is a brave thing. A meaningful statistical analysis might be possible if one had access to NASCAR’s raw SMT data, which tracks cars via GPS. The frequency data is insufficient because drivers can gain or lose half a dozen positions in a matter of seconds.
Even with multiple camera angles, it is difficult to use video to determine where cars are going when an accident begins. It’s also significantly time consuming, especially locating cars in the back of the field.
But even with this data, there is no strategy that guarantees the driver that accidents can be avoided. The system—about thirty exotic cars, their drivers and their controllers—is complex enough to make modeling impossible.
Below is an overview of why you cannot predict which cars will be affected by an accident. The accident is from last year’s Summer Daytona race.
I slowed down the video to show how Martin Truex Jr. He missed at least four cars on his way to hitting William Byron. Kyle Bushjust ahead of Truex, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., running right behind him, both escaped damage. Cars directly in front and behind Byron also avoided accidents.
Truex is back on the track – again, he lost a number of cars on the way – and stories Tyler Riddick. Riddick was running a P24.
The driver in P13 knocked out the driver in P16, yet everyone avoided contact with two rows ahead and two rows behind.
Usually “Big One” is several “Little Ones”
Cars brake or scatter to avoid accidents, but some of these cars spin and/or crash into other cars also trying to avoid contact.
In the Daytona accident, a group of drivers working on the P25-P27 managed to avoid the initial accident – only to be hit by a P22 after it turned and hit a wall.
The upper right corner at the end of the video shows the P36, which is turning in an attempt to avoid the accident.
An accident that began in P13 affected eight cars between P16 and P36 – but not in any logical or predictable order. Hesitating in an instant, or choosing high instead of low, could have changed which cars were damaged and which were not.
Accidents in front of the field
Increased blocking by commanders causes more accidents to occur at the front of the field, potentially exposing more cars to damage.
Figure 2 is a car accident of 12 Atlanta race this spring. I chose it over Talladega or Daytona because the crash happened only one lap after the restart. The cars were nicely arranged, making it easy to see who it was when the accident started.
The bottom section below shows the arrangement of the first few rows of cars before the accident. Red indicates the vehicle that started the accident. Orange circles show damaged cars while green circles have avoided damage.
There is no reason or rhyme about which cars pass and which do not pass. The kinetics of the collision depends on how quickly the observers and drivers respond.
Just being close to an accident doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a part of it.
Since the bulk of the Atlanta crash occurred in the front, cars traveling in the lower lane had a slight advantage. They had more space to get away from each other. Cars running against the wall did not have this option. But, as the video shows, the underpass wasn’t entirely fortified.
Staying ahead of the instigators should, in principle, ensure that the driver avoids accidents. But sometimes even that doesn’t work.
In the 2022 Daytona 500, the P39-powered car lost a wheel. Twenty jobs BeforeThe P19 and P20 cars collided. Obviously, one expected the warning to come faster than the other.
And there is no one standing in front of the accident when the leader causes it. Given the stakes in tonight’s race, expect a lot of blocking, especially at the ends of the stage. Those who fight for the remaining qualifying spots He might consider giving up stage points so they can survive until the end of the race.
There are no safe places at high speeds.