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This article uses data from NASCAR to examine strategic decision making with professional players and high stakes. The authors look at driver decisions to pit, enabling car performance to be improved at the cost of track position. Unlike other sports choices that have been used to test game-theoretic play, pitting decisions occur sequentially. Therefore, optimal decision making should result in the sub-game perfect equilibrium outcome. After estimating the likelihood of successfully passing another driver, the authors find some evidence that drivers make optimal decisions; however, driver behavior is also consistent with a simple heuristic of following the preceding car.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Sports Economics, volume 15, issue 2, in 2014 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1177/1527002512443828.

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The authors