Friday, April 17, 2015

A Drenched Scorecard and a Sunny Preview

Hey there Internet! It's Guido here with another Scoring Indy update. This week, we look back at a rainy weekend in Louisiana, and we look forward to another race weekend coming up with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Let's get to it!


Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Scorecard

Here are the scores from NOLA:

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score
1Hinchcliffe1615478.8387.26
2Castroneves41476.5761.02
3Jakes2204712.9873.64
4de Silvestro1804711.4367.46
5Montoya131472.6075.33
6Kanaan304711.7440.63
7Power20473.7047.64
8Rahal110477.7251.77
9Newgarden120479.9147.34
10Filippi90479.6640.75
11Dixon1504715.2638.53
12Munoz1404712.1738.65
13Andretti1004714.9426.48
14Kimball2104717.0036.11
15Chaves1704618.0026.12
16Huertas2404617.7033.30
17Coletti2004416.0526.65
18Karam1904419.6118.03
19Hunter-Reay70437.6515.13
20Pagenaud50434.9113.42
21Bordais60436.659.81
22Sato1303917.921.95
23Dracone2302322.394.55
24Hawksworth801912.95-0.83


Observations

Here are the quick hits from last weekend:

- Rain racing is weird. Let's just get that out of the way up front. First of all, you get lots of yellows. (In the case of last week's race, you get LOTS of yellows...) Second, you often get timed racing. This results in weird numbers of laps, like the 47 completed by the leaders at NOLA. This can give us slightly odd numbers in our Race Scores, but they still serve the purpose of comparing drivers, so that's what we'll do:

-  The first driver that I want to talk about this week is James Hinchcliffe. Hinch managed to get off the schnide at NOLA, stopping earlier than the race leaders, and riding out the string of cautions to victory. This is completely in character from Hinchcliffe, who tends to be a boom or bust sort of driver. I find him to be engaging and charismatic. He's the sort of driver that's good for the sport, and I'm glad to see him pull this one off.

- Now let's talk about some drivers who didn't have such great days. I want to preface this by saying that I want to like AJ Foyt Racing. I live in Wisconsin, home of the primary sponsor of both cars: ABC Supply. Also, can we talk about how amazing it is that a company sponsors two full-season entries? Hats off to ABC. Anyway, I just can't help but be wary of this year's lineup of Jack Hawksworth & Takuma Sato. Just look at their performances in Louisiana. Race scores of 1.95 and -0.83 hardly impress. And, while Hawksworth was ok in St. Petersburg, Sato ran well initially, but got shuffled back in the field. Long Beach is where Sato picked up his lone Verizon IndyCar Series win, but he was taken out last year by contact early on. But, we're not quite to previewing yet...

- Finally, we come to this week's edition of Rahal Watch. Graham managed to keep himself interesting again, running well, with an Average Running Position of 7.72. He finished better than he qualified, and he had one of the eight best Race Scores, which managed to score him points in the Race Score World Championship, so let's get to it!


RSWC Update

Here is the updated table from my little pet project, the RSWC:

DriverSTPNOLATotal
Montoya8818
Power10212
Hinchcliffe1010
Castroneves448
Kanaan66
Jakes66
de Silvestro55
Hawksworth55
Rahal33
Filippi33
Pagenaud22
Bourdais11
Newgarden11


- I'll keep tracking performance race-by-race here. That way, we'll be able to evaluate performance across the wide variety of tracks that the IndyCar crew visit this year. This will allow us to see if last week's rain-racing jamboree at NOLA is an outlier, or if the likes of "Buckshot" Jakes and James Hinchcliffe keep scoring points.

- It's worth noting that even with the ran, each Penske to finish a race over these two events, has scored points in that event.


Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview

Her's what happened in 2014 at "America's Monaco" 

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score
1Conway173809.6478.59
2Power140807.3873.37
3Munoz110808.3064.78
4Montoya1608010.7165.63
5Pagenaud60809.7549.64
6Aleshin2008014.8659.62
7Servia1208011.3550.22
8Andretti80809.7843.80
9Saavedra2238015.4454.24
10Huertas2108012.9352.28
11Castroneves908010.4935.53
12Dixon722808.5341.74
13Rahal2307915.0043.13
14Bourdais307713.2214.18
15Hawksworth50779.8718.80
16Wison1006411.3419.31
17Briscoe1806020.3515.20
18Kanaan1305514.3813.30
19Newgarden41554.4912.03
20Hunter-Reay151551.2024.19
21Hinchcliffe20553.156.20
22Sato1505517.042.86
23Kimball1904112.886.74


We're starting to run out of time for this week, so here's last year's race in short:

- Hunter-Reay crashed.

- Newgardern got a good run wiped out.

- Graham Rahal continued to just show me enough to keep my interest.

- And, Mike Conway, Destroyer of Worlds, got the W.


So, for this year:

- Look for Montoya to show up big at the track where he first got on track in '14.

- Look for at least a couple contenders to get taken out by contact.

- Look for me to continue to find a way to talk about Graham Rahal.

- And, look for at least one unexpected face on the podium.


Stay Tuned

I have been known to share the occasional opinion on Twitter. Here's one from last week:

I'm not saying that's an endorsement, I'm just saying I did say something about an unexpected face...

See you next Friday!!

-- Guido

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New in NOLA -- Weekend Preview

Hey there, Internet! It's Guido, back with another Scoring Indy update. This week, we have a non-numerical preview of the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. Get ready for a whole pile of conjecture. Let's get to it!


The Entry List

The car and driver combinations taking the green flag in Avondale, LA this weekend will be the same as it was in St. Petersburg back in March. This makes me happy. The more time that drivers and crews get to spend together before the Indianapolis 500 in May, the better. Plus, a 24-car grid just looks nicer than the 22 or 21 we were getting at this time last year. And, that's pretty much all there is to say about that. So, onward to...


The Track

Now, it's difficult to preview a new track, and NOLA is that. First of all, I don't have any information from last year (since there was no last year at NOLA) to look at driver performance, so let's talk about the racecourse itself. I asked some of my most trusted Scoring Indy advisers (ie most avid readers) Steve Wittich, Eric Hall, and Andy the Speedgeek what (current or former) tracks that NOLA Motorsports Park called to mind. Here were the primary comparisons:

Cleveland: The once (and future?) circuit at Burke International Airport in Cleveland was a common comparison, which I've heard in multiple places. This comes from being a flat "road course" (ie not using city streets) and allowing for an unobstructed view of the entire course from any grandstand. The flatness will also make high-speed turning interesting. We'll really get a sense of the downforce that these new aero kits put into the cars.

Edmonton: This was the comparison that my advisers seemed to think was the most apt. That made me smile, because I don't think I ever saw a bad race at the Edmonton City Centre Airport circuit. NOLA also features long straights with sharp turns, and could provide for a lot of action.

IMS Road Course: I also saw comparisons to the road course at IMS. and the technical and flowing nature of many of the corners seem to fit this bill. Last year's Indy GP is a perfect example of why I love strategy races, and we might be in for the same sort of event this weekend, at least in part due to:


The Weather

As of this writing, there is an 80% chance of rain in Avondale, LA tomorrow. That means we're very likely to see rain tires at some point for any of qualifying (later today) or the race. This is the biggest of wild cards, capable of shaking up the grid and making for either a wild and wooly race or a very damp parade. One never does know with rain.


Stay Tuned

Keep track of things here at Scoring Indy, and follow me on Twitter (@ScoringIndy) for my comically terrible race predictions and blog updates. Until then, enjoy the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (hopefully from somewhere dry).

See you next week!

-- Guido