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.
Deck, A., Deck, C., and Zhu, Z. (2014). “Decision Making in a Sequential Game: The Case of Pitting in NASCAR,” Journal of Sports Economics, 15(2), April 2014, pp. 132-149. DOI: 10.1177/1527002512443828