IndyCar is heading to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend for the third race of the season. This event was red-flagged twice last year, but the year before it ran relatively clean, making it a good candidate to assess what it takes to win down there (or at least to go fast and put yourself in a position to win). Barber is 2.3 miles long and has 17 turns, so not quite as long or as many turns as the last race at COTA, but it is another road course.
Of course what helped drivers go fast there in 2017 might not be exactly what makes them go fast there this year, but it’s likely some of the trends we’ve seen in the past will crop up again this weekend.
In my opinion, there isn’t currently a good way to evaluate team strategy in IndyCar based off of the traditional statistics of starting and finishing position. If a car improves throughout a race, was it because of good strategy, great passes, or just being fast? It’s not particularly easy to tell and even if you watch the race, there’s too many cars and different things going on to get a good measure of what happened by the eye test.
Two practice sessions took place at COTA today ahead of IndyCar’s first race at the circuit this Sunday. Practice one was relatively slow on track with all drivers doing ten or fewer laps, but the second session of the day saw more people come out and run quality laps.
Pato O’Ward is one of the best drivers to come out of Indy Lights in recent memory. Although racing in a limited field of eight or nine cars for most races, O’Ward was dominant in 2018 winning nine of the seventeen races and holding pole position for nine as well.
This season he’ll run in 13 races with Carlin Racing starting this weekend at COTA and including the Indianapolis 500. O’Ward has one start in IndyCar that came at Sonoma in 2018 where he qualified fifth and finished eighth for an impressive debut. Read More »
In 2018, only three races were won by drivers starting outside of the top ten. Qualifying has always been recognized as a pivotal part of the race weekend as it is what sets drivers up for a good result on Sunday.
Using data from 2008-2018 which includes 187 races, I took a look at three interesting questions related to starting position and how races play out.