2019 GOTS ~ Some Interesting Stats
NASCAR released their numbers on the GOTS. In a Chris Greythan article entitled Interesting Stats From the 2019 NASCAR Gander Trucks Season. It’s my kind of article as I like the Truck Series. I like stats. I really like interesting Truck Series stats.
It opens with “Matt Crafton captured his third career title by winning the 2019 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Following an incredible year for the series, here are a few interesting stats we dug up with help from our friends from Racing Insights.”
From there it covers a wide variety of items from the season. Things like -
-The number of laps raced, miles covered for the season, the number of drivers who debuted in the Series, how many drivers won races and win poles,
-Toyota’s success on track and manufacturers Championships,
-Analysis on how many times the Stage winners went on to win the race and who won the most Stages,
-which 1.5-mile race had the most cautions,
-Austin Hill winning the first and last race and identifying other drivers who had done that,
-Listing the six first time winners
-Stewart Friesen’s second place finishes before winning his first race at Eldora,
-Tyler Ankrum’s win at Kentucky made him the youngest driver to qualify for the Playoffs,
-Todd Gilliland winning his first race in his 46th start with Kyle Busch Racing, the longest run before a first win for the team, and closed with
-Greg Biffle’s 6434-day gap between GOTS wins.
All interesting stats for an interesting season in an interesting Series.
But as interesting as those are, here are some stats that for whatever reason didn’t make the cut for the article. I think they are pretty interesting. See if you don’t agree.
-Matt Crafton won his third Championship this season and did so without winning a race. This makes him the first Winless Champion in the GOTS and only the second Winless Champion in the Top Three Touring Series
-Crafton won the Championship and led 44 of the 3396 laps the Series ran this season (1.3% Laps Led).
-Crafton’s 44 laps led was the fewest laps led of the eight Playoff Qualifiers. For comparison, six of the eight Playoff qualifiers led 109 laps or more (more than twice what Crafton led) with Ross Chastain leading a whopping 591 laps, over 13 times Crafton’s season total.
-The next closest lap leader to Crafton’s total was Tyler Ankrum at 58 laps led. Ankrum led 14 more laps than Crafton, while running three fewer races due to the fact he wasn’t old enough to compete in the Series until Martinsville.
-Of the 44 laps Crafton led-36 were green flag laps while 8 were under caution.
-Of the 23 races in the 2019 season, Crafton led laps in 8 races.
-In the 8 races he led laps, he led a total of 10 times.
-Of the 10 times he led laps
- 2 were from the Pole (maintained starting spot)
- 3 were on restarts (maintained restart position)
- 1 was while under yellow (pit work or remained on track when leader pitted)
- 4 were green flag passes for the lead.
So Matt Crafton won the 2019 GOTS Championship with no wins, 44 laps led in eight races and having four green flag passes for the lead.
When you think Championship numbers those are quite... ummm... interesting. But under the Playoff System those numbers are Championship numbers no matter what anyone thinks.
But there are even more... ummm interesting stats with the 2019 GOTS season.
-Did you know that for the season in head to head finishes, of the seven other drivers who qualified for the 2019 Playoffs, Matt Crafton bested the following drivers-Johnny Sauter 15-7, Austin Hill 14-9 and Tyler Ankrum 14-6 and while being bested by Grant Enfinger and Ross Chastain 11-12, Brett Moffitt 9-14 and Stewart Friesen 8-15. Chastain, Moffitt, and Friesen were Championship Four finalist. So even though Crafton lost in head to head with the three finalist he bested them all when it counted most-the Homestead-Miami finale, to take the Crown.
-That in the Finale, Crafton started the race behind the other Four Finalist (9th v 1,3 and 4), trailed at the end of Stage 1 (6th v 2,3 and 4). He moved ahead of his other three competitors in Stage Two (2nd v 3, 4 and 5) and maintained throughout the final stage to the finish and for the Championship (2nd v 4, 5 and 11th) creating the “Game Seven Moment” that the Playoff is to create.
All this kinda reminds me of the old riddle -
Q: Do you know what they call the medical student who graduates at the bottom of his class?
The GOTS version is
Q: Do you know what they call a driver who in 23 races wins none, only leads in eight races, leads 10 times for 44 laps and only makes four green flag passes for the lead the entire season, while getting beat head to head against the other Championship Four drivers?
-The 2019 GOTS Championship is Matt Crafton’s third Championship in the Series. This ties him for second in COTS Championships with Jack Sprague, They trail Hall of Fame driver Ron Hornaday, who has four.
-With his third Championship Matt Crafton becomes the first GOTS driver to win Championships under both the Pre-Playoff (Latford) System and Playoff System.
-Crafton may be the only one to accomplish this as Austin Dillon and Erik Jones are the only active drivers who won their Championships under the old system (but I don’t see them dropping back from Cup to GOTS anytime soon to try and take that honor from him) and I don’t believe we’ll see Todd Bodine, Jack Sprague or other retired GOTS drivers come out of retirement to try to win under the Playoff System (although Bodine coming back would increase the excitement factor dramatically). But this is racing... and you never say never when it comes to racing.
-Crafton won two of the three GOTS Championships back to back (2013, 2014). No other driver has done that, including HOF driver Ron Hornaday. With his 2019 Championship he is the only driver in position to again go back to back.
-In Crafton’s three Championship seasons he won a total of three races (2013-1, 2014-2, 2019-0). This compares to Jack Sprague’s 13 wins in his three Championship seasons.
That’s a bunch of stats - interesting stats. Kind of makes me wonder why no one has mentioned any of them.
In 2019, Matt Crafton did what NASCAR did not want to ever see happen-become a Winless Champion. They designed their Chase, now Playoff System to ensure this would never happen after Matt Kenseth won the 2003 Cup Championship with 1 win. Now it has happened.
A Winless Champ in one of the Top Three Touring Series under the Chase/Playoff System was something I had hoped to see. The main reason is because I wanted to see how NASCAR would respond to this little fact about the Playoffs that no one seemed to want to acknowledge was within the realm of possibility. Here, in the fourth year of usage in this GOTS it happened.
The response has been as I expected-ignore it until pressed and if pressed, only minimally address it. The official story line has been-Matt followed the current rules to qualify for the Playoffs, raced well enough to make it to the Championship Four, was the Top Finisher at the season finale to become Champ. The responses are so consistent among media and the Talking Heads it almost sounds scripted.
And whatever you do, downplay everything else, especially about how the Playoff format made it possible.
Downplay how the Playoff in the GOTS Series creates the “Perfect Storm” for this to occur. How a 16-race regular season plus a seven race Playoff significantly reduces opportunities to win. How Cup regulars or former Cup regulars dropping down to compete and winning six of the 16 regular season races further reduced win chances for GOTS regulars. Two Elimination rounds instead of three made it easier to advance. Eliminating two drivers per round meant a driver only had to be third worst or better to advance, which played in Matt’s favor.
Silence appears to be a big part of the plan and is working well. And when that doesn’t work, they just shrug their shoulders and give the old “It is what it is” and move on.
But as one Race Fans Forever regular and Pure Thunder Racing author, Berra Nordin would say, “It is what it is but not how it should be!
Maybe in the off-season while NASCAR is reevaluating everything and focusing on all the changes they are bringing about in the Sport-New schedule, new TV contracts, new Series sponsorship model, pit stop procedures, street racing or not, new cars and as they say at the end of any Greatest Hits Infomercial “and many more” they need to reevaluate the use of the Playoff format and seriously ask does it do the best job selecting a season Champion.
‘Til then, Congratulations Matt Crafton on winning the 2019 GOTS Championship to become the Series Champion for the third time. I look forward to seeing you again go back-to-back in 2020 to tie Ron Hornaday for Most GOTS Championships. I’m confident no matter what method is used you can do it as you have proved that in the past.
Here’s hoping you can do it again without a win. A back-to-back Winless Champion would be one heck of an interesting stat!