After Troy wrote the article about the head to head results between Danica Patrick and Sam Hornish Jr. we got to wondering about who might be the open wheel driver to have the best results racing in NASCAR. We found 18 drivers who moved from either IZOD Indy Car, CART or Formula One to race in NASCAR.
In order to do a proper comparison Troy decided to run the stats side by side to see which driver leads each of the key stats in each Series.
The drivers that we are doing this comparison to are:
- Tony Stewart- IZOD Indy Car graduate with three Indy wins.
- Christian Fittipaldi- CART, Grand AM and Formula One competitor who had two wins in CART and two Grand Am wins.
- Scott Speed- Formula One, Grand Am and ARCA driver who never won an F1 race.
- A.J. Allmendinger- CART and Grand AM driver who left with five wins in CART and one in Grand AM.
- Danica Patrick- IZOD Indy Car driver who left with one win.
- Sam Hornish- IZOD Indy Car three time Champion who left with 19 wins, including an Indy 500 win.
- Dario Franchitti- Three time Indy 500 Champion, winner of four straight Indy Car Championships, 21 wins (and counting) as well as ten CART wins.
- A.J. Foyt- Living Champ Car Legfend, CART and Formula One driver who also has been a multiple winner.
- Larry and A.J. Foyt IV- Indy Car drivers.
- Juan Montoya- Indy 500 winner and CART Champion with 10 career wins.
- Mario Andretti- CART and Formula One Champion with 19 CART wins and 12 Formula One wins.
- Dan Gurney- Winner of four Formula One races.
- Robby Gordon- Two time CART winner and Indy Car racer.
- John Andretti- CART winner and Indy Car driver.
- Tim Richmond- CART driver
- Jacques Villeneuve- CART and Formula One Champion who retired with 5 CART wins and 11 Formula One wins.
- Patrick Carpentier- CART and Indy Car driver who left with five CART wins.
Let's get to the stats shall we?
First up, is a comparison in the Truck Series. Did you know that there hasn't been an Open Wheel driver to make more then 16 starts in this Series? So this is going to be a short list.
Wins: Tony Stewart has two wins and Scott Speed has just one win. No other driver has won a Truck Race.
Top 5's (Starts):
|1||Tony Stewart (6)||4|
|2||Scott Speed (16)||4|
|3||AJ Allmendinger (13)||2|
|4||Robby Gordon (4)||1|
|5||John Andretti (6)||1|
No real surprise there. Top 10's:
|1||Scott Speed (16)||9|
|2||Tony Stewart (6)||5|
|3||AJ Allmendinger (13)||3|
|4||John Andretti (6)||3|
|5||Robby Gordon (4)||2|
|6||Sam Hornish (1)||1|
Only Scott Speed has a pole. No other driver does.
|1||Scott Speed (16)||68|
|2||Tony Stewart (6)||66|
|3||AJ Allmendinger (13)||17|
|4||John Andretti (6)||8|
|5||Jacques Villeneuve (7)||8|
On the surface it would appear that Scott Speed is tops in three of the five categories, but he has ten more starts than Stewart who is second in almost all of the categories. Looking at it in percentages, Stewart bests Speed in the Truck Series:
|Name (starts)||Wins (percentage)||Laps Lead (average)||Top 5's (percentage)||Top 10's (percentage)|
|Stewart (6)||2 (33.3%)||66 (11 Laps per race)||4 (66.6%)||5 (83.3%)|
|Speed (16)||1 (6.25%)||68 (4.25 Laps per race)||4 (25%)||9 (56.25%)|
Now for the comparison in the Nationwide Series:
Stewart has the most wins as well as the most starts here with a winning percentage of 10.8% but it is Richmond that has the best winning percentage of 20%.
This one is interesting because we finally get to see some new names on the list. Franchitti never got going in Nascar but as Ashley Judd says "He is a legend" in the Indy Car Series. Only Hornish and Patrick are still full time in this series and could move up this list fast as long as they don't keep wrecking each other. Stewart leads the list in Top 5s but it is Richmond that comes out on top in percentages. Stewart has a 31% Top 5 finish compared to Richmond's 40%.
The real hard one to take here is Larry Foyt. In 67 starts he's never finished in the top 5 and is last among Open Wheel drivers in Top 10s. Scott Speed could move up this list if it wasn't for his start and park status. Tim Richmond and Villeneuve have impressive numbers for having so few starts - Richmond sits at 40% while Villeneuve is 57%. It is Tony Stewart that sits at the top of the list with 40 top 10s and a 43% Top 10 finish. Stewart's 43% is certainly less than Villeneuve's 57% but when you realize Stewart accomplished that in almost 100 starts while Villeneuve did it in only 7 you can see the significance of Stewart's accomplishment. We also might add that all of Villeneuve's Top 10s came on road courses.
Tim Richmond is again impressive at 60% while Stewart is at 6%. Interestingly you don't see Robby Gordon and Sam Hornish on the list.
On to the Sprint Cup Series:
Eight open wheel drivers have won in the Nascar Sprint Cup Series. Dan Gurney is pretty impressive with 5 wins in 16 starts (31%) and Tim Richmond (7%) proves how great of a driver he was before his death. Names you don't see are Sam Hornish (110 starts), Scott Speed (93), and A.J. Allmendinger (164). Stewart is tops on the list with 46 wins and a winning percentage of 9.6%.
Montoya is making a good go at it, but Richmond had twice the number of top fives in the same number of starts. Its good to see Scott Speed and Sam Hornish in the mix as well. The Top 5 percentages are interesting with Stewart (35%), Richmond (22.7%), Foyt (22.6%), and Gurney (50%) topping out the field. Aside from Gurney's impressive total in just 16 starts it is Stewart that seems to be the front runner for the long run drivers.
Drivers who have never had a top ten include Patrick Carpentier (40 starts), Dario Franchitti (10 starts), Larry Foyt (23 starts) and Christian Fittipaldi (16 starts). Stewart has an impressive 56.9% Top 10 finish in races while Richmond sits at 42% and Gurney at 62.5%. Again, aside from Gurney's impressive record in a limited amount of races it is Stewart that sits atop of the pack with his impressive Top 10 finish stats.
Nine drivers with a pole. It's interesting to see Richmond on top with less then half of Stewart's starts, but it is Gurney that statistically is better than the rest with a 18.7% pole average. But in the grand scheme of things the reality is poles don't win races, they just say you can drive fast. Statistically Gurney with his limited schedule wins this category hands down, but is Richmond that is most impressive.
Seriously, do we have to do the stats for this category? Look at Stewart's laps lead, no one even comes close. Stewart has led an amazing number of laps led. Villeneuve and Patrick were added just to show they have yet to lead a lap. Danica Patrick is the only one to still be active in the Sprint Cup Series (at least on a limited schedule at this time).
So, make of this what you will but based on what we're looking at here it is Tony Stewart that is the best Open Wheel racer to ever have raced in NASCAR, although we just can't help but to wonder if this would be true if Richmond hadn't died at such a young age.
By Troy J. and Bob (4ever3) Ellis