2022 NASCAR Xfinity and Trucks Track Correlation


With 2023 nearly upon us let’s take one last look back at the 2022 season. A few weeks back I took a look at the correlation between the Cup Series tracks. A few readers asked if I had the same information for the Xfinity and Trucks series, so as my final post of 2022, here it is, 2022 Xfinity and Trucks Series Track Correlation.

A few quick notes before we get into the data. The data used for the Trucks and Xfinity Series is different from the Cup Series data. For the Cup Series I used my incident adjusted speed metric which accounts for incidents which reduce a driver’s performance for the rest of the race. I don’t have a detailed metric like that for the Truck or Xfinity Series.

Without an incident adjusted metric I’m using raw green flag speed to do correlation. This means that in general the data shows less correlation between tracks. For example, it’s generally accepted that Phoenix and Richmond have strong correlation. My Cup Series data confirmed that this was the case in 2022. But when using raw speed data, if a driver had an incident that reduced performance at Phoenix but not at Richmond, it would drag down the correlation.

In addition, since I just did a fairly deep dive on correlation between tracks in the Cup Series, this article is going to focus on the tracks that the Cup Series doesn’t visit. However, where the Trucks or Xfinity correlation differs from the Cup correlation I’ll also take a look at that.

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INTERMEDIATE TRACK CORRELATION

1.5 Mile Intermediates

The Trucks’ data lines up nearly perfectly with the Cup Series data for the 1.5 mile tri-oval tracks. The lowest correlation between any two 1.5 mile tri-oval races was between Charlotte and Kansas 2. Even those two races had a reasonable r squared of .629. As with the Cup Series there was also reasonable correlation between these tracks and Homestead.

The Xfinity data tells a somewhat different story. Although there was meaningful correlation between the 1.5 mile tri-ovals, the strength of the correlation was not as strong as it was in the Trucks or Cup Series. The highest correlation between the first Las Vegas race and any other 1.5 mile track was with Homestead. The correlation between the two tracks was an r squared of just .691. It’s worth noting however that particularly early in the season, correlation between all tracks was low in the Xfinity Series. I can’t say for sure what caused this, the large number of Cup Series regulars who ran Xfinity races early in the year, which can shuffle around green flag speed rankings, may be to blame.

Longer Intermediates

The Trucks Series didn’t run at Auto Club or Michigan. Similar to the Cup Series, there was limited correlation between Auto Club and any other track in the Xfinity series. Also like the Cup Series, Michigan showed meaningful correlation to the 1.5 mile tri-ovals. Xfinity Series correlation at Michigan also mirrored the Cup Series with regards to Phoenix and Nashville. However, at the Xfinity level there was not the same correlation between Michigan and Richmond. Although since the Xfinity Series only raced at Richmond once, early in the season, this may simply be due to the lack of early season correlation between any tracks which I noted above.

Both the Truck and Xfinity Series raced at Pocono, however the results could not be more different. The Trucks Series aligns nicely with the Cup Series, with meaningful correlation between Pocono and Las Vegas, Kansas, Texas, Charlotte, and to a lesser extent Darlington. The Xfinity Series on the other hand had almost no correlation between Pocono and any other event. The highest correlation between Pocono and another track was an r squared of just .434 between Pocono and the first Phoenix race. I honestly have no idea what to make of this or how to explain it.

Darlington

The Trucks and Xfinity data on Darlington lines up pretty much perfectly with the Cup Series data. There was strong correlation between Darlington and other high speed intermediate tracks. The Trucks Series only visited Darlington once, but the Xfinity Series went to the track twice and the correlation between Darlington 1 and Darlington 2 was the highest correlation between any two Xfinity races.

SHORT TRACK CORRELATION

Phoenix and Richmond

The Trucks Series data for Richmond and Phoenix shows correlation that lines up with the Cup Series. The Xfinity Series however had significantly less correlation. Since the Xfinity Series only visited Richmond once, early in the season, this may just be a continuation of the lower correlation between early season races and anything in the Xfinity Series. The Richmond Xfinity race did however have very strong correlation with Dover, with an r squared of .71.

New Hampshire

The Truck Series didn’t race at New Hampshire. The Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire was another race that correlated with, well, nothing. I have no idea what to make of the New Hampshire data for Xfinity. The strongest correlation with any other race was an r squared of .442 with Richmond.

Dover

While the Cup Series data showed some correlation between Dover and most other races, there was only particularly strong correlation between Dover, Vegas 1, Nashville, and Pocono. For the Xfinity Series on the other hand, Dover was the race that correlated with everything. Dover had an r squared over over .7 with Phoenix 1 and 2, Richmond, Martinsville and 2, Michigan, Bristol, and even Talladega 2. Dover also had correlation over .6 with Darlington 1 and 2, Texas 1 and 2, Nashville, Daytona 2, Vegas 2, and Homestead.

Nashville

The Trucks and Xfinity data for Nashville lines up with the Cup data. The strongest correlation between Nashville and other tracks was with the high speed intermediates. As with other Xfinity data, the caveat is that the correlation to the early season races was significantly lower than the correlation with late season races.

Gateway

The Xfinity Series didn’t race at Gateway, so we only have Trucks data to compare with the Cup Series data. Unlike the Cup Series there was much more meaningful correlation between the Trucks race at Gateway and other tracks. Gateway had an r squared of over .7 with Las Vegas, COTA, Martinsville, Kansas, Texas, and Pocono. There was also meaningful correlation with Charlotte, Knoxville, Nashville, Mid Ohio, and Richmond.

Martinsville

Unlike the Cup Series where there was some correlation between Martinsville and New Hampshire and Richmond, at the Trucks and Xfinity level there was limited correlation with those races. The Trucks and Xfinity Series then split with Trucks showing limited correlation with Phoenix, while both Xfinity races at Phoenix showed strong correlation to the Martinsville races. The Trucks Series showed meaningful correlation with almost every track. The exceptions were Daytona, Atlanta, Bristol Dirt, Sonomoa, Richmond, Taledega, and Phoenix. I’m not sure what to make of this, but it’s a data point I’ll be tracking in 2023.

UNIQUE XFINITY AND TRUCKS TRACKS

Knoxville

Knoxville is a dirt track that only the Trucks Series raced at in 2022. Somewhat surprisingly there was only a passing correlation of .606 between Bristol Dirt and Knoxville. There was much stronger correlation between Knoxville and the 1.5 tri-ovals than with the other 2022 dirt race. There was also significant correlation between Knoxville and Martinsville, Nashville, Mid Ohio, and Richmond. I’m chalking this up mostly to randomness, it’s a single race of data (I don’t have 2021 Trucks data loaded properly to look back at it). Since the Trucks Series isn’t scheduled to come back in 2023 for the time being this will just be a mystery.

Mid-Ohio

The Trucks race at Mid-Ohio was another stand alone Trucks event, neither the Cup nor Xfinity Series raced at the track in 2022. As a road course I wouldn’t have expected particularly strong correlation with any other track. However there was strong correlation between Mid-Ohio and Martinsville, Darlington, Kansas 1, Texas, Charlotte, and Knoxville with the Knoxville race having an r squared of .832 to the Mid-Ohio race. I’m not 100% sure what to make of this somewhat random correlation, so it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on in 2023.

Indianapolis Raceway Park

While the Cup and Xfinity Series were off running the Indy Road Course, the Trucks Series went West about 6 miles to run the short track at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The interior oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park is a .686 mile track with 12 degree banking in the turns. No NASCAR event had been held at the track in over a decade, so there was limited data to use in projecting this race.

Given the size and banking of the track I was expecting some correlation with Richmond and Martinsville. There was some correlation between Indianapolis Raceway Park and those tracks, both coming in with an r squared of around .63. The more significant correlation however was with Darlington (.752) and Knoxville (.762). There was also some meaningful correlation with Phoenix (.653) and the 1.5 mile tri-ovals (all just under .7).

Portland

The only unique track that the Xfinity Series raced at was Portland. The event was a bit of disaster, with rain causing all sorts of trouble. In any event, there was limited correlation between Portland and any other track. The strongest correlation was between Portland and Phoenix 2, with an r squared of just .6398. The strongest correlation with any other road course was with COTA at just .474.

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