Friday, December 6, 2013

Fontana Scores, and the Beginnings of Silly Season

Hello Internet! Guido here, finally back at Scoring Indy. Today, I make my triumphant return to the realm of internet open-wheel writer-dom. Today, we'll take a look at the scores from the season finale in Fontana; talk about why it's just now that we're doing that; and look ahead to the rest of the Silly Season between now and March 30 in St. Petersburg. So, let's get this show on the road:

MAV TV 500 Scores

Finish Driver Qualifying Grid Laps Led Completed A.R.S RSWC Points
1 Power 1 1 103 250 76.62 25
2 Carpenter 9 7 1 250 63.23 15
3 Kanaan 12 9 3 250 67.56 18
4 Hinchcliffe 11 8 0 250 57.14 6
5 Dixon 7 17 5 250 62.90 12
6 Castroneves 2 12 27 249 60.60 10
7 Andretti 8 6 3 248 49.79 4
8 de Silvestro 21 16 0 247 48.89 2
9 Hunter-Reay 15 11 45 242 59.39 8
10 Kimball 5 4 22 238 38.19
11 Hildebrand 19 15 0 237 45.97 1
12 Bourdais 4 3 35 229 37.06
13 Pagenaud 16 13 0 217 32.26
14 Tagliani 13 21 5 209 39.06
15 Rahal 18 22 0 200 29.42
16 Allmendiger 3 2 0 188 17.64
17 Sato 25 25 0 144 24.58
18 Wilson 23 18 0 110 16.94
19 Servia 17 14 0 110 11.92
20 Newgarden 10 20 0 110 11.35
21 Vautier 20 23 0 110 9.35
22 Jakes 6 5 0 110 3.00
23 Munoz 14 10 0 100 7.77
24 Saavedra 22 24 0 69 6.17
25 Mann 24 19 0 68 0.91

Final R.S.W.C. Standings

Driver RCWC Points Points Back
Dixon 198 0
Castroneves 164 -34
Hunter-Reay 134 -64
Pagenaud 128 -70
Andretti 120 -78
Power 114 -84
Wilson 108 -90
Franchitti 101 -97
Kanaan 97 -101
Hinchcliffe 96 -102
Newgarden 84 -114
Kimball 83 -115
Bourdais 83 -115
Sato 76 -122
Conway 71 -127
de Silvestro 45 -153
Carpenter 44 -154
Viso 43 -155
Rahal 33 -165
Servia 28 -170
Saavedra 16 -182
Jakes 14 -184
Munoz 12 -186
Tagliani 7 -191
Hildebrand 5 -193
Allmendinger 4 -194
Briscoe 1 -197

Some Explanations (and Review of Predictions)

So, these numbers have been sitting on my computer for a solid  month and a half now. I had them done two weeks after the Fontana race, and I put them all into my spreadsheets. Then, I put them all into the Blogger template here. And, I just didn't post them. Don't know why. I just never hit post. So, I'm sorry about that. 

Here's a quick recap of my predictions from the finale:

- I said Helio would finish Top 5 -- He was P6. I give myself half a point.
- I said Dixon would win the Championship. He did. Full point.
- I said Hinch OR Power would finish the season with more than 100 RSWC points. Power did. Full points.
- I said Tags AND Servia would have extended time in the Top 7 or 8. Tags did. Servia crashed out in the big one on lap 110. Half a point.

- 3 out of 4 is REALLY good for me on an oval. Talk about momentum into next season.

Silly Season Schedule

So, this Silly Season, I'm hoping to roll out a couple of updates a month: one focused on the numbers, and one that's a little more "creative." I'm thinking retro-diaries of old races for these spots. These Fontana scores and final RSWC standings count as your numbers for December, so here's the tentative schedule for the rest of Silly Season:

December -- Retro Diary of the 2012 Indy 500 (this will double as my fanboy Franchitti tribute)

January Early -- A Statistical Look at each Race from the 2013 Season

January Late -- Retro Diary of some "classic" CART race on YouTube. Got a favorite. Suggest it.

February Early -- A Statistical Look at each Driver from the 2013

February Late -- Retro Diary of some "classic" IRL race (I rep the WHOLE split). Same as above. Suggest your favorite.

March Early -- A Statistical preview of the 2014 [Insert Title Sponsor Here] IndyCar Series.

Stay Tuned

That should keep us busy for a while. See you all soon!!

-- Guido

Friday, October 18, 2013

The One-Man IndyCar Fantasy Draft (And Fontana Preview!)

Hello Internet! It's Guido, coming back at you with another Scoring Indy post! This week, I have a little fun and do a little opinion, with the One-Man IndyCar Fantasy Draft. Now, I'm calling this post a draft, but I won't be picking teams against myself. That’s sort of silly. But, I will be giving a variety of “fantasy outlooks” on different IndyCar drivers. For the purposes of this post (and because I love shameless self-promotion #synergy) we’ll be assuming that out fantasy league takes into account all the things that I account for in the Race Score World Championship: Race Finish, Average Running Position, Positions Gained, Laps Led, and Laps Completed. These also, handily happen to be the things that I have a bunch of spreadsheets about. Additionally, I'll be previewing the IndyCar World Championships in Fontana. Onward!

The Sure-Fire First Pick

- Scott Dixon -- I’d have said this before the season as well, for the record. Here’s the thing about Dixon: he can win ANYWHERE. He has won 18 races on ovals. He has won 15 races on twisties. That is the definition of versatile. Since 2007, Dixon has finished in the following positions in the final points standings: 2007 -- 2; 2008 -- 1; 2009 -- 2; 2010 -- 3; 2011 -- 3; 2012 -- 3; and this year, he can finish no worse than second. He’s also clinched the Inaugural Race Score World Championship. Also, Dixon’s only 33. He’s in his prime, as far as driving IndyCars is concerned. Basically, if one had a first pick in a traditional IndyCar fantasy league, and they failed to pick Scott Dixon, that person would be wrong.

Late First Rounders

We can safely assume that the Powers, Castroneveses, Franchittis, and Hunter-Reays are likely to go in the next few picks. If you find yourself picking at the end of the first round of your non-existent IndyCar fantasy draft, here’s where you should look to get your team off on the right foot:

- Simon Pagenaud -- I’d be tempted to take Pagenaud in front of some of the drivers listed in the “We can safely assume” section, but after playing more years than I care to count of fantasy football, I know that early picks are often fandom picks, and those four are more popular. Here are facts about Pagenaud. 1) He has more RSWC points and IndyCar championship points than anyone not named Scott Dixon or Helio Castroneves. 2) He has scored RSWC points in five straight races. 3) He has gone from IndyCar Rookie of the Year to IndyCar Championship threat in two seasons. 4) Honda loves him. LOVES him. I’d snap up Pagenaud before you could say “mid-first round.”

- Marco Andretti -- Andretti has been quiet this year, and this is why he’ll slip this far. Now, here’s why you should pick him up here. Marco has discovered something this year: consistency. There is a reason that this is (by far) his best year for IndyCar points. There’s also a reason that Marco has been lurking (not threatening, but lurking) in the RSWC all year. He had the car to beat for much of the Indy 500. He had the car to beat at Pocono. He hard-lucked out of the podium at both. If you’re picking in the late first round of the hypothetical IndyCar Fantasy Draft, you want Marco.

- Justin Wilson -- Remember when I did the Team RSWC about two thirds of the way through the season? Remember how Dale Coyne Racing was in P4 on that table? Justin Wilson in why. Yes, the team gets help from all the worlds that Mike Conway destroyed at Detroit and Toronto, but Wilson’s been a (more-or-less) steady runner through most of the season. Remember how he finished P5 at Indy? Yeah, no one else does either. BUT he did it! He had a shot to win when the race-ending caution flew, and that’s all that you can ask for at the 500. He improved from P22 on the grid to P7 by the end of the Pocono race, and this is from a road course specialist. Last pick in the first round? You can do worse than Wilson.

Take ‘em for the Upside

In fantasy sports, you can often wind up drafting players based not on what you expect the player to do, but because what they MIGHT do is so incredible that you take a flyer. Here are some drivers to consider when drafting in the second-third rounds for upside (now, you’re probably not having more than three rounds in an IndyCar fantasy draft…).

- Sebastien Bourdais -- Bourdais is your guy if you’ve got an early second rounder. He has looked like the Bourdais of old on select occasions this year. You can track a definite up-tick in his performance since dumping the Lotus power in 2012. But, as with any upside pick, there are question marks. Here they are for Bourdias: 1) He’s moving to KVSH next year. Bourdias has more RSWC points at Dragon this year than Indy 500 champion (and arguably better driver at this stage in their careers) Tony Kanaan has at this year’s KV team. 2) He still has showed about zero ability to perform on an oval track. But, he’s a downright pro on the twisties. Is that enough to make you bite?

- James Hinchcliffe -- Hinch almost doesn’t deserve to be this low in this list. He’s won three races this year. He’s teetering dangerously close to the Conway Line, which defines excellence over the course of a season. But, the Mayor of Hinchtown has been boom or bust this season. He wins races; he banks big-time RSWC points; he DNFs. And, it’s the DNFs that are the problem. I can imagine that several hypothetical IndyCar fantasy leagues would penalize one for DNFs. An interesting draft strategy might be to roll the dice with an early Hinchcliffe pick, and open up some possibilities for yourself in later rounds.

- Takuma Sato -- Sato is a poor man’s Hinchcliffe. He’s gotten good finishes this year, such as at Long Beach and Sao Paulo. But, more often than not he’s caused himself problems, and even when he looked to have rallied back and gotten a pole at the first Houston race, the car got mechanically away from him. If you have a late pick, and want to roll the dice, Taku’s your guy. Also, I expect improvement from Hinch. I'm not convinced that we'll see much more than this from Sato.

Fontana Preview

Now, usually, this would have been the whole post today, but (as you probably recognized) I failed to post a post last week. I was at a denominational professional leader's conference, and it just didn't happen. But, there it is above. Anyway, here's what happened last year at Auto Club Speedway:

Race Finish Driver Qualifying Grid Laps Led Completed A.R.S.
1 Carpenter 8 5 62 250 72.98
2 Franchitti 20 9 15 250 75.12
3 Dixon 5 15 25 250 64.62
4 Hunter-Reay 18 22 0 250 75.00
5 Castroneves 16 17 2 250 64.82
6 Rahal 10 18 0 250 55.77
7 Sato 15 21 6 249 60.73
8 Andretti 1 1 3 249 23.73
9 Legge 11 7 0 249 34.62
10 Kimball 19 23 0 249 53.76
11 Hildebrand 9 4 56 248 33.30
12 Jakes 24 12 10 248 42.28
13 Hinchcliffe 13 19 0 247 32.62
14 Cunningham 22 24 0 246 42.03
15 Pagenaud 14 20 0 246 26.86
16 Newgarten 3 14 1 244 7.27
17 Briscoe 2 2 2 244 -8.53
18 Kanaan 6 3 47 240 1.41
19 Servia 17 8 0 231 3.83
20 Tagliani 7 16 21 229 2.34
21 Saavadra 21 10 0 118 6.55
22 Barrichello 12 6 0 107 -1.08
23 Wilson 25 25 0 80 8.92
24 Power 4 13 0 66 -2.10
25 Viso 23 11 0 65 -0.15
26 de Silvestro 26 26 0 16 1.92


- Expect equal funkiness between qualifying and the starting grid this year, as divers and teams change out engines to make sure that they have reliable equipment for the 500-mile Championship Decider / Leader's Circle Determiner / Triple Crown Event / Job Audition.

- The first two Triple Crown events are of about zero help in determining who will perform well in this race. Now, I think that next year, with Pocono going to 500 miles, that will not be the case then. I don't know why, but 500-milers are completely different beasts than 400-milers.

- I expect that the Chevrolet-powered cars to perform better in terms of speed than the Hondas. This has been the case on oval after oval after oval this year. The Honda engines might do better for fuel economy, but I don't expect this to be a fuel number race, and there will be cautions, which will help or hurt any given fuel strategy more or less at random.

Stay Tuned

I'm thinking of bringing back Twitter Predictions for the season finale. Check back on Twitter @ScoringIndy after qualifying tonight or tomorrow morning.

Should be exciting! See you Saturday Night!

-- Guido

Monday, October 7, 2013

Race Recap -- Houston Race 2

Hello Internet! Guido back here with an express-delivered (as promised) Race Recap for the second race of the Grand Prix of Houston double-header. There's plenty to talk about, so let's jump in with the numbers:

2013 Houston Race 2 Scores

Race Finish Driver Grid Laps Led Completed Race Score RSWC Points
1 Power 9 51 90 94.23 25
2 Dixon 2 29 90 73.69 18
3 Hinchcliffe 8 0 90 64.74 15
4 Wilson 6 0 90 58.89 8
5 Bourdais 13 0 90 62.59 12
6 Pagenaud 3 0 90 46.91 2
7 Servia 21 0 90 62.53 10
8 Kimball 10 0 90 45.94 1
9 Conway 16 0 90 49.43 6
10 de Silvestro 17 0 90 42.41
11 Vautier 22 0 90 45.59
12 Saavedra 24 0 90 48.92 4
13 Newgarden 14 0 90 31.60
14 Sato 15 0 89 34.86
15 Franchitti 7 0 89 14.75
16 Viso 12 0 89 26.82
17 Jakes 20 0 89 27.11
18 Rahal 19 0 88 15.49
19 Filippi 23 0 88 20.90
20 Andretti 4 0 88 -6.02
21 Hunter-Reay 5 0 87 -4.38
22 Carpenter 18 0 61 5.86
23 Castroneves 1 10 53 -9.16
24 Kanaan 11 0 32 2.79


- First of all, I actually observed this race, so I can make some comments based on what I saw, in addition to the raw data.

- A quick note on method, since the field was set via entrant points coming into the weekend, I've just scored the race against the starting grid. For instance, Sato and Franchitti are scored as having started P15 and P7 on grid respectively. Now, the two of them were moved to the back of the grid for the second and "official" start, and this gets reflected in their Average Running Position numbers, but not the grid.

- Two climbers of note: 

1) Servia. This is what Oriol Servia does. He gains positions over the course of races. He did it last season. He did it at Long Beach this year, then again at Sao Paulo. The question for the man from Pals is this: is that enough? I suppose that's also the question for any team owner looking to hire Servia: is it enough that he gains spots on track? Does it matter that he's only won a single major open-wheel race (a 2005 Champ Car tilt in Montreal)? I hope it is enough. 

2) Sebastian Saavedra. Saavedra doesn't really impress me, as a general rule. BUT, this was an impressive strategic outing from the #6 team. They used a smart strategy pitting early in the first window (which didn't cost anything, since Saavedra has only slightly more entrant points than I do), and that allowed them to run as high as P3, and running as high as P3 does wonders for one's Average Running Position. The yellows didn't fall their way from there, but it still sneaked the young Columbian into the 12th place in the box score.

- Two climbers who will be quickly noted:

1) Vautier up 11 spots.

2) Bourdais up 8.

- Someone give Dale Coyne a winning lottery ticket. Please. Justin Wilson has had an Above-the-Conway-Line year. Mike Conway has run in 7 races this year: scoring RSWC points in 5 of them. 5 of 7 is 71%. Dixon has scored in 12 of 18 races; that's 67%. Castroneves: 67% as well. RHR: 44%. Pagenaud: 67%. Marco: 72%. Do we sense a pattern? Dale has great drivers, who have turned in great performances this year (as I pointed out in the Team RSWC article). Now, if he had the money (which he famously lacks) to develop and test the same as the big teams, his cars could really challenge.

- Josef Newgarden, despite finishing the race with a different nose than he started with, and serving a drive-through, finishes on the lead lap. I'd say that's the definition of respectable. Good weekend from (rapidly becoming) my favorite driver without an Italian name. (Maybe I'll start calling him Giuseppe...)

- Now, on to the coronation:

RSWC Update

Driver RCWC Points Points Back
Dixon 186 0
Castroneves 154 -32
Pagenaud 128 -58
Hunter-Reay 126 -60
Andretti 116 -70
Wilson 108 -78
Franchitti 101 -85
Hinchcliffe 90 -96
Power 89 -97
Newgarden 84 -102
Kimball 83 -103
Bourdais 83 -103
Kanaan 79 -107
Sato 76 -110
Conway 71 -115
Viso 43 -143
de Silvestro 43 -143
Rahal 33 -153
Carpenter 29 -157
Servia 28 -158
Saavedra 16 -170
Jakes 14 -172
Munoz 12 -174
Tagliani 7 -179
Hildebrand 4 -182
Allmendinger 4 -182
Briscoe 1 -185

- Dixon's done it. As you can see, with 25 being the maximum points available in any given racing weekend, Scott Dixon has clinched the Race Score World Championship. He might as well stay home at Fontana.

- On second thought, he might not want to do that. I'm sure winning an IndyCar Series championship pays way better than winning a fake championship given out by a guy with less than 50 Twitter followers...

- We'll take a deeper look at Mr. Dixon's drive to the top in the weeks after the Series finale.

- I sort of hope that Helio wins the IndyCar title now, so that I can have some fun doing compare-contrast.

- One last thing before we leave Houston.

The Wreck

- Just some bullets here. It's still pretty raw.

- Seeing the replay of Dario's crash reminded me WAY too much of October 16, 2011. I'm sure it was that way for many IndyCar fans. When I texted Hoff (who was watching football) to tell him that we almost lost Dario (because that is how I felt), the best way I had to describe the wreck was that it "looked a lot like Dan's."

- I had a pretty good idea that Dario wasn't in bad shape by the time that I saw the crash itself, however. NBCSN did a good job of showing Dario moving inside the cockpit, even if this was overshadowed by the horrific nature of the accident itself.

- Any more speculation about the future of the Gallant Fox (I'm on record with him being my favorite motor racing driver ever, right? If not, I am now. That's why this is so tough.) can wait until later. For now, get well Dario. I cried when you won the 500 in 2012. I'll cry the day you hang them up, but it'll be nothing like what would have happened if we'd lost you back in Houston.

Stay Tuned

- Coming up on Friday, an opinion piece: Scoring Indy's One-Man IndyCar Fantasy Draft. Then, on October 18, my Fontana preview. The week after that, I'll have race and season reviews.

- After that, however, I'm going to start running short on material. I'll play around with silly season stuff some, but without race data, a race data blog starts to get malnourished. So, I'm turning to you, the (I'm assuming) seven (totally arbitrary number) people who read this: what do you want from Scoring Indy during the off season? Seriously. No case too big. No case too small. Let me know.

- The best way to let me know, of course, is on Twitter. Follow me @ScoringIndy for blog updates, sometimes predictions, and always opinions.


-- Guido