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Showing posts from 2017

Are Veach's Minimal Wins in Indy Lights a Cause for Concern?

Zach Veach will race in his first full season this year at Andretti Autosport after competing in just two races last season. His first IndyCar experience was the GP of Alabama where he was a replacement driver on short notice after Hildebrand got injured before the race. Veach also had a chance to run at the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti where he finished 26th after retiring because of a mechanical failure. Although his first two outings in the series weren't what he would have hoped for, Veach showed promise in Alabama and it resulted in a full time ride for Andretti in 2018.

At the GP of Alabama, Veach finished where he started in 19th place. While this isn't a good result, he did show those watching a few important things that might have helped him land this year's ride. First, with no race experience before Alabama, he managed to stay on the lead lap which is an impressive feat on its own. The second and more important thing is that he showed he can learn the car and …

Transitioning From Indy Lights to IndyCar

About half of the field in last year's IndyCar season competed in the Indy Lights series at some point. Many of them got their racing start in Lights and then moved to CART or the IndyCar series depending on when they came through the system. Recently I looked at how drivers perform once they are in the series through the use of aging curves. This helped me answer the question of how drivers age and how they perform year to year on average. Aging curves are useful for predicting performance once drivers are in the IndyCar series, but what about the rookies? Is there a way we can predict how a driver is likely to perform in their first year in IndyCar?

To answer this question, I decided to look at drivers who had competed in the Lights series full time (competed in at least half of the races) and then transitioned to a full time IndyCar ride in the first or second year after their last season in Lights. Originally I was just going to include drivers who had transitioned straight f…

Aging Curves For IndyCar Drivers

Aging curves are very popular on baseball analytics sites like Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus. They give a forecast as to how a typical player ages over time and how their batting average, WAR, or some other statistic might change with the seasons to come. They give a best guess as to how a player will age, so while it is by no means a perfect representation of player aging, it is helpful. The real benefit of aging curves are that they can help us forecast a player's (or driver's in our case) performance in future seasons based on how he's performed so far. No one has really tried to do the same for IndyCar, though David at Motorsports Analytics has done something similar for NASCAR, so I thought I'd give it a try. 
The basic technique behind constructing an aging curve is this: look at back to back seasons for many different drivers and see how a statistic (for example average finishing position or AFP) changes between those years. Put these "changes" in…

Don't Try to Predict Where a Driver Will Finish Based on Where He's Starting

The general consensus has always been that the higher up you start in the grid, the higher you'll finish in the race. This makes sense. The fastest cars qualify at the front of the grid and we expect them to perform well in the race too. But what exactly is the relationship between starting position and finishing position? Can we tell a lot about where a driver is likely to finish based on where he starts? These are a couple of the questions I want to look at today.

Graph of the Day: Age of the IndyCar Champion Over Time

Graph of the Day is a short piece where I post an interesting graph for chart I came across while doing research. Today's graph looks out how the age of the IndyCar champion has changed over the years. 
Before Newgarden's title at the age of 26, it appeared the age of the champion was rising ever so slightly on average. Newgarden was the fifth youngest champion since the year 2000. 
It'll be interesting to see how the younger drivers in the series (Newgarden, Rahal, Rossi) change this trend over time. As the veteran drivers start to retire, I'd expect the average age of the series champ to tick down a little.
by Drew

A Better Measure of Season Competitiveness in IndyCar

In the last article I wrote, I talked about a way to measure the competitiveness of a given IndyCar season. If you haven't read that article, I would recommend doing so before continuing with this one. That measure was a fairly good first attempt at measuring competitiveness: it gave a good idea of the spread of the field and how dominant the champion was. Kyle Brown, a fellow IndyCar blogger who focuses on the statistics and data of the sport, left a comment on that post suggesting a different approach to measuring competitiveness that built off of what I started with.

Competitiveness in IndyCar

This year's IndyCar championship came right down to the wire. There were multiple drivers in the hunt heading into Sonoma and Josef Newgarden ended up winning the title by just 13 points. Helio Castroneves, who finished fourth in the championship, was less than 50 points behind Newgarden when the checkered flag flew. This was a highly contested championship, and it got me thinking about competitiveness within an IndyCar season. There are definitely seasons where there is a dominant driver and ones where multiple drivers are battling it out all season and everyone is close.