2010: The Most Competitive Year In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series History
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 23, 2010) – The recently completed 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season goes down as the most competitive in the 62-year history of the sport’s premier series.
Two major competition records were broken this past season in the series: average lead changes and leaders per race.
There was an average of 25.4 lead changes per event in 2010, the most in the history of NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.
Additionally, there was an average of 11.4 leaders per event, also the highest average since the series’ inaugural year of 1949.
The previous highs in both statistics were 24.9 lead changes in 1981 and 11.0 leaders in 2006.
In all, 55 different drivers led at least one lap this season – another record. The previous most was 51, in both 2005 and 2007.
Passing numbers, too, were at their statistical peak this season. NASCAR began recording passing numbers in 2005, with the inception of Loop Data. This season, those numbers were higher than any of the past six years.
There were a total of 1,299 green flag passes for the lead (Note: Those are lead changes all around the track, not just at the start-finish line). The previous high was 994 in 2006.
There were also 116,327 total green flag passes. The previous high was 110,226 in 2009.
The tight on-track competition led to a closer-than-ever points battle. The 15 points separating the top-two drivers going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway were the fewest in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s seven-year history. Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson became the first driver since 1992 to overcome a deficit with one-to-go to capture the title.
Five races broke or matched track records in either most leaders or lead changes this season:
Talladega: Both Talladega races were exceptionally competitive, but the spring event made history. There were 88 lead changes among 29 drivers during the April 25 event, both all-time series records – at any track, ever.
Daytona: There were 21 different leaders in the season-opening Daytona 500, the most ever at a track whose history dates back to 1959.
Infineon Raceway: The first road course race of the season, the June 20 event featured 12 lead changes, the most ever at Infineon. The last lead change belonged to 2010 series champion Jimmie Johnson, who won the first road course race of his career.
Phoenix: There were 13 different leaders in the spring Phoenix event, tying a track record.
Texas: The autumn event at Texas had 33 lead changes, setting a track record.