(Note: These charts are best viewed on a large screen or by turning your phone sideways.)
The kinds of drivers that win a championship win about every 4 out of 5 times they stage. And by the end of the season, they should have the most points. But some years don’t require as many points. And sometimes, you run a series like the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series where it takes the best performances out of so many races.
In this post, I’ll explore how Super Comp national points in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series have looked over the last 12 years, and what it takes to race in the category.
Now, I’ve only won a few championships on the local level, but I do know that counting points shouldn’t be how you do it. You should just go up there, round after round, and get it done in the moment. “The points will take care of themselves,” you tell yourself. But that’s really, really hard to do.
So if you’re going to plan, if you wanted to know what you’re up against, if you’re thinking about getting into Super Comp, what does that look like?
First, we can look at the highest and lowest range the champions have had (612 to 697). Then the high to low range each runner up has had (589-658). Then the high to low range each third place finisher has had (577-643), and so on.
What about the other positions? The chart below shows the points range (min to max) of all positions 1 through 100.
Lots of times there is overlap. Fourth place in 2008 (Terry Edwards) scored more points than the 2012 champion (Alan Kenny).
In general though, there’s certainly a curve. And it’s a bit exponential, where as you get closer to the “top”, the points totals sharply increase.
Put another way, going from 50th to 1st requires three times the points increase as going from 100th to 50th.
If we zoom in to the top 15, drivers looking to finish towards the top can get an idea of historically what it’s taken to get there:
People say drag racing is getting harder: “The points totals seem to be going up in Super Comp.” But what’s the trend?
Just above, the dots represent the value of each (1st, 10th, and 100th place; median of 1 to 10 and 1 to 100) while the lines represent the trend, or the least squares regression line.
When you get the “trend line” of the medians using regression, you’re left with a top 10 median that has generally increased by 1.94 points per year, a top 50 median that’s increased about 1.80 points per year, but a top 100 median that’s increased only 0.15 points per year.
The top 10 have been scoring more points year over year, while the top 100 have stayed effectively the same.
Quick tidbits from the historical timeframe we’re looking at:
- 2018 saw the narrowest spread between 1st and 10th (75 points)
- 2011 saw the greatest spread between 1st and 10th (175 pts)
- Average points spread between 1st and 10th: 123.9
- Average points spread between 1st and 50th: 244.7
- Average points spread between 50th and 100th: 66.0
This brings up the question: how long can that last? It appears it’s pretty easy to go from 100th to 50th, but it requires a lot to get to the top. If most drivers desire to be champion (which you should, because why else are you out there?), does information like this become damaging and cause racers to lose interest, or does it motivate the class to perform at an even greater level?
Points Per Claimed Race
If you prefer, you can look at a season by how many points a driver typically earns at each claimed race, which I call PPCR. We take the total points posted and simply divide by 8.
It’s important to divide by 8 in this case because of certain cases like Shawn Langdon in 2008, who won the national championship but went to 25 races.
By taking the number of points a driver earned and divide it by the 8 races they claimed, we can begin to see exactly what it takes to earn a certain position. Here, I look at the top 10.
You can still see very similar patterns obviously to the above charts, but when broken down by event, in 2020 expect a champion to claim around an average of 84 ppcr. With how the points are scored, that’s an average of about five round wins across the eight claimed races.
- The lowest champion’s ppcr was 2012: 76.5
- The highest champion’s ppcr was 2014: 87.1
- 1st place has averaged 82.1 ppcr
- 10th place has averaged 66.6 ppcr (15.5 difference off 1st)
- 50th place has averaged 51.5 ppcr (30.6 difference off 1st)
- 100th place has averaged 43.9 ppcr (38.2 difference off 1st)
Total Races Attended By Year
Historically, how many races have the top 10 drivers in Super Comp attended?
Given that driver can only claim the best 5 of 8 divisionals and the best 3 of 6 national events, the results make sense.
With everyone always complaining about how expensive racing is, it’s no surprise then we see an overall decline in the average total events attended for Super Comp top 10 national competitors.
Over time, top 10 drivers have approached and hit the limit for claimable races: 6 nationals and 8 divisional events.
The difference between top 10 and top 3 N/D aren’t much different: 6.8/8.0 for top 10; 7.1/8.1 for top 3. So this proves there’s slightly more effort put out by top 3, so what if we expand?
Looking at the top 10 versus the top 100, can we expect that all drivers max out their option for 8 divisionals and 6 nationals? At what position does each hit the minimums?
And here it is in chart form, if that’s more your thing. The values for the positions shown are averaged across the 12 years.
It makes sense that drivers still go to divisionals but the number of national events declines by more as the position increases.
Looking at it another way, 87% of the top 100 drivers the past 12 years travel to the minimum 3/5 N/D events. This number has stayed relatively constant.
More trivia on events from ’08 to ’19:
- Top 100 have had, in general, 4 to 5 full time seasons
- Top 100 have gone to an average 12.1 total events per season
- Most events ever attended in a season: 26 (Steve Mikus)
- Second most events ever attended in a season: 25 (Shawn Langdon)
- Average N/D events attended for top 10: 6.8/8.0 (14.7)
- Average N/D events attended for top 50: 5.8/7.4 (13.2)
- Average N/D events attended for top 100: 5.1/7.0 (12.1)
- Highest position by a driver doing the bare minimum 3/5: 29th (Rock Haas, 2017)
- Average position by a driver doing the bare minimum 3/5: 70th (383 pts)
- Four drivers made the top 100 nationally without attending a national event
Final takeaway? National drivers over the last 12 years, especially those towards the top, are racing less but scoring more points.
The Best Full-Timer
We’ll consider a “Full-Timer” someone that has attended the minimum 3/5 events over a season. And for this, I’m only counting those that have done this three or more times over the last 12 years. I picked three because one full season is a trial, two is an effort, but three full time seasons is, to me, a proper commitment to a category.
First, who has hit at least the minimum 8 events the past 12 years in a row?
Gary Stinnett, Jason Kenny, Ken Mostowich, and Steve Williams.
There are 141 Super Comp drivers that have done at least three seasons in the past 12 years of full time.
Who has put together the most successful seasons using these parameters?
Note: PPCR is points per claimed race, or total divided by 8. Position is the median position when only taking full time seasons into account.
|Edmond Richardson Jr||14.0||5||562.4||70.3||4|
|John Labbous Jr||15.4||5||551.4||68.9||8|
|Raymond Miller III||13.6||9||518.6||64.8||8|
Of course I could go on and on with the table, but the top 10 is still a great look at the class. And, in most cases, surprises no one.
Two standouts for me. First is Luke Bogacki averaging over 600 points across seven seasons, which is incredible. Then there’s Stinnett in fourth across twelve full time seasons. Consistency like that in a difficult class like Super Comp is certainly something to admire.
Hopefully these numbers give you an idea of what it would take to compete in Super Comp at all levels. Looking at the analysis of the past decade or so certainly points to a class that is maintaining a general skill level consistency throughout, but exponentially increasing in difficulty as one tries to become champion.
Think I missed something? Want to see something specific? Leave a comment or send me an email.