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Ed Carpenter Should Hire an Oval Expert

For the past four years, Ed Carpenter has raced only the oval tracks on the IndyCar schedule. That typically adds up to five or six races a year the driver and team owner of Ed Carpenter Racing gets to compete in. When his name pops up on an entry list, fans and the media love to mention that Carpenter only races on ovals, and they often dub him an 'oval specialist' or 'oval expert.'

And at first glance this seems like it's not a crazy thing to say. Carpenter won pole position at Indianapolis this year and in the process of doing so ran the only 230 mph plus lap of the weekend. This was his third pole position at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making him one of nineteen drivers who have won pole position at the speedway multiple times -- only ten drivers, including Carpenter, have won it three or more times.

He finished this year's 500 in second place after leading 65 laps, his highest finish since a win at Texas in 2014.

While these results may seem to confirm …

Fantasy IndyCar Picks: 2018 Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

Four drivers. $100. Here's a quick look at Single Seater's Fantasy IndyCar picks for the 2018 Kohler Grand Prix.

Penske secured a front row lockout in qualifying of Josef Newgarden and Will Power. Newgarden was fastest in two of the three practice sessions and it carried over into the qualifying session as he won his third pole of the season.

Here's the expected points table for Sunday's race. If you aren't sure what expected points are, check out this post first. There are a few tweaks to the model for this week's race because IndyCar hasn't raced at Road America enough in recent years to get accurate data for enough drivers. So Road America performance has been supplemented for this race with average finishing position on road courses in general:

In Brief Scott Dixon has the highest expected points for the race despite his fourth row start. He has been on a great run so far this year with two wins and six top-fives in nine races. Dixon's average fini…

Power Has Been Incredible - When He's Been on Track

Will Power is third place in the championship right now. In a typical year this wouldn't be surprising, but considering that he has failed to finish three of the nine races so far this season, this is an amazing feat.

With 321 points, he sits just 13 points shy of second place Rossi and 46 back from the championship leader Dixon. So how's he doing it?

First, let's address the DNFs. In the three races Power didn't complete, he finished 22nd, 21st, and 18th. Those results gave him a combined 32 points or 10 percent of his total points through nine races. This means he has averaged 48 points in the other six races! Even once you account for Indianapolis' double points, that's still an average of over 40 points per race - this is equivalent to a second place finish.

Power has been on an absolute tear in the races he has finished this year. Despite completing only 85.8% of the laps run, the least of any driver in the top ten, he is third in the championship. In the…

Fantasy IndyCar Review for the Indy 500

Single Seater's Fantasy picks for the Indy 500 scored a respectable 490 points on Sunday. The team was hurt by spins from front-runners Castroneves, Patrick, and Bourdais. They were one of the eight drivers caught up in wrecks during the race. Despite these wrecks, our picks had the podium finishers in the lineup as well as Pagenaud and Munzo who both made the optimal lineup for max points below.

The optimal lineup for the 2018 Indy 500, for $495, was as follows:
Carpenter - 92 pointsPagenaud - 65Power - 108Leist - 34Hunter-Reay - 61Wickens - 45Dixon - 71Rossi - 65 Hildebrand - 38Munoz - 53 This is the best ten-car lineup you could have selected for the race. This set of drivers scored 632 points on Sunday, meaning Single Seater's picks scored 77.5% of the maximum points they could have. Not a bad outing for the first run of our model. 
I don't plan on changing anything with our model just yet, and I'm excited to see how it does in both of the Detroit races. As of righ…

I Think I Can Go Another Lap: Tire Wear at the Indy 500

All of the top finishers at this year's Indy 500 stopped five times for fuel and tires throughout the 200 lap race. Most drivers came in around Lap 30-34 for their initial stop since the first caution didn't come out until Lap 48 when Sato ran into the back of a slow moving Davison. Since this first stint was run completely under green, I wanted to use it to evaluate the tires at the race.

I chose to use the top three finishers of the race--Power, Carpenter, and Dixon--for my analysis for two reasons. First, since getting the data into the format I needed took a bit of leg-work, it's simpler to limit the number of drivers I use. And second, since they performed the best on Sunday, I thought it would be interesting to see how the tires worked for them especially.

Both Power and Dixon ran 32 lap stints while Carpenter ran one lap less before pitting for the first time. Here is a graph of all three of their lap times for every lap of their first stint, not including the in-l…

Fantasy IndyCar Picks: 2018 Indy 500

For the Indianapolis 500, Fantasy IndyCar managers have $500 to spend on ten drivers. Who are the best choices for the big race, and who should you leave out of this week's lineup? Let's take a look.

First some track history. In the last five years the winner has started as low as nineteenth and as high as fourth. With The 500 being such a long race, no starting position is really out of contention for a race win or good result. Obviously it helps to be towards the front though: drivers who started on pole in the last fifteen years have the highest average finishing position--10.625--of any place on the grid.

To help in the process of picking a fantasy team, and because we love numbers here at The Single Seater, I created a model that gives a driver's expected points for race weekend. It is based on three factors: a driver's starting position, previous performances at the track (if applicable), and their current season form (once again, if applicable). A driver's …

How Many Cautions Will We See at the Indy 500 This Year?

Since 1996, there have been an average of 8.1 cautions per race at the Indianapolis 500. As far back as my data goes to 1979, there has never been an Indy 500 without a caution and I would bet there hasn't been as long as the race has been around.

It comes with the speed, length, and number of cars on the track. With 33 drivers racing at over 220 mph for 500 miles, cautions are bound to happen. But how many?

Using data since 1996, I created what is known as a Poisson Distribution for the expected number of cautions for an Indy 500 race. This distribution gives the probability of a set number of cautions occurring during the race. Here's what it tells us:

There is a 14% chance we will see eight cautions at this year's race, the most of any single number of cautions. Seven cautions is the second most likely outcome followed by nine.

The distribution also shows there's a 42% chance more than eight caution flags will wave and a 19.2% chance there will be more than ten.

Fo…

Quick Notes From Indy 500 Qualifying

Ed Carpenter put his car on pole yesterday after running a blistering 230.088 mph lap one. He was the only driver to break 230 and you could hear it in the crowd's reaction as his speed was put up on the screens around the track. The roar that erupted from an insanely fast lap is what May is all about.

The track was quick for other drivers yesterday too. Seven of the nine drivers in the Fast Nine improved on their speeds from yesterday and on average they improved 0.39 mph. That is a big difference off of Saturday and it shows how the track just got quicker as the day went on along with some improvements to the cars themselves. Castroneves, the driver I thought had the best chance to win pole position, slipped down to eighth position on the grid.

After his run Castroneves said his car was the Penske car chosen to run with the least downforce, and it hurt him in qualifying as he was unable to drive it through the corners. All Penske drivers ran a slightly different setup in qualif…

How Quick Can These Fast Nine Drivers Go?

Fast Nine qualifying for the Indy 500 takes place today from 5:00-5:45 p.m. The fastest drivers from yesterday's qualification session will run again at this time to determine the order of the first three rows of the grid. Castroneves was the fastest driver on the track yesterday with a four lap average of 228.919 mph. Carpenter was close behind with an average of 228.692 and Pagenaud was third with a 228.304. All of these times will get wiped today and the top nine will have 45 minutes to determine the starting order. 
Using every driver's best four lap average from yesterday, I constructed confidence intervals for each driver to get an idea of what they are capable of doing on pole day. If you aren't familiar, a confidence interval is a range of values (in our case, speeds) that the statistic we are looking at (four lap average speed) may take, along with a known degree of uncertainty. So our confidence intervals will give a range of speeds that we can expect from each …

What We Can Learn Through Four Practices at Indy

Half of the practices drivers will get before the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 are now complete. With four practices down, we can start to get a good look at which drivers are looking fast this May as well as which manufacturer has the upper edge around the 2.5 mile oval. 
Marco Andretti has been the most consistently fast driver of the week, finishing in the top five in speed in all four of the practice sessions so far. He is the only driver to do this and also holds the fastest lap recorded so far with a 227.053 mph lap in the third practice session. This lap speed is 0.7 mph faster than the second fastest driver so far, Scott Dixon. 
Andretti's Honda was the first of what would become two Honda drivers at the top of different practice sessions: A Chevy-powered driver finished in the top spot in the first and second practice sessions, and a Honda-powered driver did the same in the third and fourth sessions. This led me to wonder which manufacturer has had the upper han…

Spanish GP: Strategy Review

Hamilton cruised to victory at the Spanish GP on Sunday 20 seconds clear of his teammate in second place. The race was a fairly easy one for the championship leader, especially once Ferrari decided to bring Vettel in under safety car and put on fresh medium tires. From there on out it was a simple case of staying on the track that brought Hamilton his second win of the year. 
Vettel was the first of the leaders to pit on Lap 18, attempting to undercut Hamilton who had a 7.5 second lead on him at the time. With a pit-lane delta of about 21-23 seconds, Vettel came out 30 seconds behind Hamilton after his out lap. Over the next 5 laps, Hamilton continued to stretch his lead over Vettel, even though the former was on fresh tires. By the time Hamilton pit on Lap 25 he had close to a 33 second over Vettel and would end up coming out of the pits with fresh medium tires 12.5 seconds in front of Vettel. 
Hamilton's tire management during the first stint while he was on the softs was spect…

What is the Indy 500's Rookie Orientation Program?

Every driver who competes in the Indy 500 for the first time has to complete the speedway's Rookie Orientation Program before being allowed to test the rest of the month and eventually qualify. The program is meant to get new drivers up to speed at Indianapolis' 2.5 mile oval and show they can run laps safely and consistently before they are sent out with other drivers.

The program has three phases.

First, the driver has to run 10 laps in a range of 205-210 mph, followed by 15 laps at the 210-215 mph range. The final phase is 15 laps at 215+ mph.

The Rookie Orientation Program for this year's Indy 500 will take place May 15th from 1-3 p.m. for Claman De Melo who has not already completed it. Wickens, Leist, and Kaiser completed the program earlier in the month.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Owens/IndyCar

by Drew

Indy GP: Strategy Review

The winning pit-stop strategy for the Indy GP was most likely what the majority of teams were planning on before early incidents shook up the race on Saturday: a red-black-red-red three stop race that saw Will Power finish ahead of runner-up Scott Dixon by a little over two seconds.
An early incident between Charlie Kimball and Ed Jones as well as minor bumps between other drivers on the first lap of the race brought out a caution that affected the strategies of a third of the field. Eight drivers were forced to come in for premature pit-stops in the opening laps of the race, with many of them opting to stay on scuffed reds and get damage fixed only. Of the drivers that came in for early stops, the highest finishing was Simon Pagenaud who came through in eighth after starting one spot up from that. 
Power managed to stay out of trouble in the opening laps and execute his strategy almost perfectly, but not without a challenge from Robert Wickens first. Wickens, after switching onto fr…