The IndyCar field is full of part-time drivers. Even outside of the plethora of drivers who just compete in (or attempt to compete in) the Indianapolis 500, there are a lot of drivers who are on partial contracts for the season and might only compete in a hand full of races. Most drivers don’t race part-time because they prefer part time, but rather because they haven’t gotten the opportunity to race in a full season yet or haven’t proven themselves. Ed Carpenter is the obvious exception to this rule since he chooses to only race on oval tracks.
Earning the most points throughout the season is the goal of IndyCar racing. Points are how a driver wins championships and every decision a driver and team make throughout the course of a season should be centered around how they can maximize the number of points they’ll earn at the next race. Using the stats I tracked this IndyCar season, we can look at how correlated different stats are with earning points over the course of the season. Correlation is a measure of how strong or weak a relationship is between two variables. It can range from [-1,1], with -1 being a perfect strong negative correlation, 1 being a perfect strong positive correlation, and 0 meaning there is no correlation between the variables. If the correlation between two variables is 1, that means when variable x goes up, so does variable y. If the correlation is -1, that means that when variable x goes up, variable y goes down.
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.