Anyone who has watched a bit of IndyCar racing on TV has probably heard an announcer say something to this effect after a caution period at one time or another: “You know what they say, cautions breed cautions.” It’s unclear who “they” are in this sentence, but we can take it to be the conventional wisdom in racing. The announcers are saying that after a caution flag has been thrown, it’s more likely there will be another caution during the ensuing restart from the caution period. Some explanations for this are that the cars are all bunched up together, some cars will have come to pit while others didn’t, and it’s a prime overtaking opportunity. cRead More »
There is no denying that Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist were the two fastest drivers at last weekend’s Genesys 300 at Texas. Dixon won the race by 4.4 seconds and Rosenqvist had a second place finish practically guaranteed before he crashed while attempting to pass lapped traffic and charge after Dixon with nine laps to go. Given that the high line had already caught several people out throughout the day, it probably wasn’t the best place to attempt that pass when you could have been pretty sure of a second place finish and it’s the first race of the season. He would have made himself much better off in the championship by taking the second place finish and securing the 1-2 for Chip Ganassi Racing. As always though, hindsight is 20/20, and if he had made the pass stick and passed Dixon for the win we would be telling a different story about that move. Even with an unfortunate ending, Rosenqvist gained a ton of experience at Texas that he can take with him to the four remaining oval races this season.Read More »
This is a really fun article for me to write because one of my first “big goals” when I started writing about IndyCar statistics was to apply the Elo rating system to IndyCar drivers. Elo ratings were developed by Arpad Elo to rank chess players, but they have since been used to rank sports from soccer to football to basketball and more. Elo ratings have a couple of great qualities that make them a good choice to rank and compare IndyCar drivers. The first part of this article will detail how the ratings are calculated, but feel free to skip past that for the results or come back to it later!
Today I just wanted to drop a very brief article here on a question I recently looked at. How useful is starting position in terms of predicting finishing position for different tracks? This is a slightly different question than the three I explored in this article on qualifying position, but if you’re interested in qualifying and its relationship to the race I urge you to check out that post as well.
Throughout the 2019 season I kept track of a stat called Expected Points (xPoints). xPoints is the number of points we would expect a driver to earn in a race based on their average track position during the race. The intuition behind xPoints is that crashes, mechanical failures, slow pit-stops, and more “bad luck” don’t reflect a driver’s true skill: these sources of bad luck are factored into traditional stats like average finishing position and the points table overall. A driver’s true skill can be measured by how they ran throughout the entirety of a race, not just by how they finished — or didn’t finish.
So, does measuring xPoints add to our IndyCar knowledge?