There exists some confusion about perfection, especially in the NASCAR sense. And especially in the driver rating sense.
A competitor’s driver rating -- the crown jewel of NASCAR Loop Data statistics -- has a basement of 23.3 and a ceiling of 150.0.
That 150.0 rating is known as a perfect driver rating. You don’t have to be perfect to get it. You don’t have to lead every lap. You don’t have to win by 10 seconds. You don’t have to do any of that.
Sure, maybe it’s a misnomer. But perfection in sports -- as in life -- is impossible to obtain. That’s why “nobody’s perfect” is a thing.
To land the perfect 150.0 driver rating, you “merely” have to be near-perfect. And it’s really hard to do.
Since the statistic’s inception in 2005, only 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race-winners have scored a perfect driver rating. The first was Kurt Busch in 2005 at Phoenix. The last, appropriately, was Jimmie Johnson last season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Samuel Deeds 400 powered by BigMachineRecords.com (1 p.m. ET on ESPN).
The following is boiled down to its core, but generally speaking, here’s what a driver needs to accomplish in a race to earn a perfect driver rating (for a full explanation of the driver rating formula, click here: http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/blogs/mike-forde/daytona-driver-ratings-loop-data.html):
· Best average running position, and an average position under green of 2.0 or better
· Have the fastest average speed
· The average of a driver’s fastest three laps has to be tops in the field.
· Lead the most laps.
· And finally, when you combine the driver’s laps led and fastest laps run, they have to add up to more than the total of green flag laps
It’s slightly confusing … and harder than it looks. An example: Johnson at Pocono earlier this year. In that race, the No. 48 dominated, leading 128 of the 160 laps. His driver rating was 148.1. Why? Kasey Kahne, after driving to the garage after Lap 1 because of a vibration, came back out midrace and was lightning quick. Kahne gobbled up fast lap after fast lap, spoiling Johnson’s perfect driver rating quest.
No one scored a perfect driver rating in 2011, thus far the only 150-less season in the Sprint Cup Series. So far, it hasn’t happened in 2013.
You may be surprised to learn who owns the most perfect driver ratings. The answer: Kurt Busch, who has four (Phoenix, 4/05; Pocono, 7/05; Pocono, 8/07; Atlanta, 3/09). Only two drivers have scored multiple perfect driver ratings: Busch and Johnson, who has done it three times.
The other drivers who have done it: Tony Stewart in 2005 at Watkins Glen; Kevin Harvick in 2006 at Phoenix; Clint Bowyer in 2007 at New Hampshire; Denny Hamlin in 2009 at Richmond and Carl Edwards in 2010 at Homestead.