What Can We Expect from Expected Points?

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?

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What is Expected Points and Why Does it Matter?

Photo: Chris Jones

New for 2019, I will be keeping track and updating Expected Points (xPts) for every race and for the season as a whole. xPts is the number of points we would expect to see a driver earn in a race given how he ran as judged by their average track position (ATP) and ATP25. The last 25% of the race is given extra weight as it is when the race is finally coming down to the wire and performance is more crucial. If two drivers both had an ATP of 5 but one had an ATP25 of 3 and then other an ATP25 of 18, while they both had good days from their general ATP, we would still expect the former to score more points than the latter.

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