NASCAR Stat War Is Over

The epic battle of NASCAR stats that I’ve personally struggled with the past four years has concluded and one lone victor remains. It appears that sometime in the last week NASCAR has acquired the site Racing-Reference.info and is now using it as its historical database for old NASCAR results. Now that the two entities has merged, it has left me confused and annoyed.

On one hand I’m grateful that Racing-Reference will continue on, there was a message earlier this year that the man who ran the site was experiencing health issues and did not know if he would continue. With NASCAR involved, that is no longer an issue since the entity can survive anyone one person coming or going on the site.

Also, things on the NASCAR site had issues, there was only the results and no other real information (leaders, cautions, etc). They also had a spot for the race sheet, which never worked (I was told that it was being worked on, but some two years later it was still broken). The Racing-Reference site is stable and has that extra information that was unavailable (until it gets re-designed by NASCAR).

What annoys me and makes me mention battle, is there was never a 100% exact collection of NASCAR stats. My goal when I started my own database four years ago was to do the best to merge NASCAR’s stats and Racing-Reference’s stats (which relied on Greg Fielden’s work, which I also heavily relied on). Since NASCAR just took of Racing-Reference, there is no more need to merge the two. The issue is I’m left asking, was everything double check and verified, or did NASCAR just say “F it” and take whatever Racing-Reference had?

That is in no way a slight to Racing-Reference, the site is researched (he has information that neither NASCAR nor leading expert Greg Fielden had sometimes) and I tended to agree with their assessments of races when issues came up between NASCAR and other resources.

With NASCAR shutting down its own database (or at least for public viewing) things I was working on effetely come to an end without any good explanation. The first example deals with drivers who qualified for events, but did not start the event for one reason or another. NASCAR would count drivers who did not start events with a career start, just chalked up to a fallout reason of “did not start” which is akin to “accident” or “engine.” Racing-Reference would not count those, or very rarely would, so some drivers are missing out on a handful of starts.

The other issue is with official records, for example in the 1964 season NASCAR had Buck Baker starting 36 races. By my count, I had him at 35 races. Racing-Reference has him at 34 races. That’s a two race swing that goes into effect for Baker now. One of those races is one where NASCAR had Buck racing, whereas Greg Fielden had his son, Buddy, as the driver. Our other difference is a “did not start” by Buck that NASCAR counted, but Racing-Reference did not. So now it appears Buck has had his starts rolled back by two, which I agree with one and am left confused by the other.

This all said I can hear the question, “but why do you care Michael?” Well I care because I love statistics (weird, I know) and I feel like, especially in the early NASCAR years, there has NEVER been an accurate and complete record of NASCAR statistics. I’ve said before there probably never will, but I don’t feel like anyone has tried to get as close as I was getting before. Now to see it end so abruptly with so many unanswered questions is quite annoying to me and will take some time to get over.