Before Gateway — and the final oval race of this season — I wanted to publish the same stats that have been on our “Statistics” page all season, but limited to ovals only. There have been four oval races this year and Pagenaud has collected the most points (212) from those races. Newgarden has the highest xPoints from those races at 181, just edging out Pagenaud at 175.
Pocono’s race produced a big reaction. Should Pocono be on the schedule in future years? Is the track too dangerous? What kind of penalty (if any) should be assessed to Sato? While these are all valid questions, I’m not going to be addressing those in this post. There’s lots of reaction to read elsewhere on some of these topics. After Sunday’s race, though rain-shortened, the usual points were handed out with Power taking home the race win. How did that affect the championship odds?
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.