For the past few years, the stats that I tracked on this website have been posted with the help of Google Sheets. This worked fairly well, but it didn’t support even simple sorting by columns or searching for drivers. For this upcoming season, I have completely changed the way my stats will be presented and available to people. I have been developing an R Shiny app that will be the new home for all of the stats that I track throughout the IndyCar season. It has a lot of nice features that I just want to briefly mention in this article so that you can get the most out of using it. It is still very much under active development, so there will likely be a few updates to it as I continue work and receive feedback.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?
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.