State of the Championship: Looking Past the Champion We Can Still Find Excitement

Usually these posts are almost exclusively centered on the battle to win the IndyCar championship, but Scott Dixon has made that a lot less exciting to write about this season. Assuming the Mid Ohio doubleheader gets scheduled for September like is planned, we will have five more races this season to enjoy. Dixon currently has a 96 point lead in the points standings and our projections give him a 99.9% chance of winning the 2020 IndyCar Championship. The only other driver with a slim chance of winning is Josef Newgarden, who has about a 1 in 1000 chance of pulling off a miraculous late season challenge to Dixon.

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State of the Championship: Who Benefits if IndyCar Adds More Races?

Yesterday IndyCar announced that the series will not race at Portland or Laguna Seca this season due to the coronavirus. In their places, IndyCar will add a doubleheader at Mid Ohio next week and a second race at the Indianapolis road course in October. Despite the cancellations and additions, the schedule winds back up at 14 races long for now, the shortest season in over a decade.

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Do Cautions Really Breed More Cautions?

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. c

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Analyzing Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dominance at Texas and the Battle for Second Best Team

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.

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Upgrading the Championship Projection Model

If you followed this site last year you’ll remember the championship projections model that simulated the remaining races of the season 50,000 times and returned the probability of every driver finishing in every position in the championship. This model was rooted in each driver’s average finishing position, average track position, consistency, and influenced by how many races had already been completed. For this season I have completely overhauled the projection system and I am going to run through a few of the major changes in this article.Read More »