There are four races left in the IndyCar season. The finale at Laguna Seca has double points on offer, meaning there are at most 266 points available to any one driver. The Single Seater model currently has Newgarden in control of the championship with a 66.4% chance of winning the series title. Rossi has around a 30.9% chance of winning as he sits 16 points behind Newgarden, and Dixon and Pagenaud both hold a 1.3% chance of pulling off a late-season upset.
We’ve hit our first longer break of the IndyCar season, which gives us a good time to take a look at how the season has been playing out so far. Josef Newgarden leads both the actual points standings as well as in xPoints, which isn’t a big surprise given just how dominant he has been driving so far. He has been the most consistent driver all year in terms of the average deviation between his finishing positions, which is just 1.3 positions. The next best driver in terms of consistency, of those who have raced in all four of the first races, is Ed Jones at 3.1 positions. The difference between first and second should tell you a lot about how impressive Newgarden has been driving.
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.
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.
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.