The Daytona 500 Explained

I just read a fascinating article called Fortune 500, Meet Daytona 500: What NASCAR can teach us about business  in Slate that points out the similarities between NASCAR racing and game theory.

It explains how the complexity between competition and cooperation makes winners in both big business and the superspeedway races of NASCAR. Here's a quote from the article.
Drafting raises all sorts of delightful game theory possibilities. As long as two racers stay in a partnership, they can catch up with or pass other cars that are not drafting. Partnering doesn't bring home the trophy, though. To win, a racer must defect and pass his opponents, but as David Ronfeldt, the author of the Rand paper explains, when "a racer in a line wants to break out and get ahead he needs at least one partner. If he swings out alone, he is bound to lose momentum" and lose the race, leading to the NASCAR axiom that "it takes two to pass one." So, cars engage in a delicate dance of game theory and false allegiances, forming partnerships at 190 mph to overtake the leader until a betrayal or defection leaves one car falling back while the other partners with a new rival.
For years I have been a fan of the more esoteric, European forms of racing: Formula One, GT cars, Rally but I was never a fan of the NASCAR.

I knew that cars had to draft one another to get to the front and anyone who left the draft would lose places. I never knew about the subtle alliances that were made and broken during the course of a race and how important those alliances are. Kind of like Survivor! This article showed a hidden, very appealing aspect of NASCAR I had not known. It hasn't , however, tuned me into a rabid NASCAR fan.

Very good. Go read the whole article.