Friday, March 27, 2015

2015: The Begin-ining

Hey there Internet! (I feel like in this, our third year together, we can be a little more informal.) It's Guido, back with another year here on Scoring Indy. We've got new beginnings. We've got strange endings. And, we've got a preview of the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg! So, let's get to it.

Strange Endings

The astute amongst you will notice that scores from last year's races at Milwaukee, Sonoma, and Fontana never got themselves on to the internet. Well, here's the thing. Computing these scores the way that I do requires a mind-numbing amount of data entry. Basically, I have to take a lap chart and then manually enter each car's running position each lap into a spreadsheet, so that I can calculate the average running position for that car as part of my scoring formula (more on said formula later). For races with lots of laps, like Milwaukee or Fontana, this takes a ton of time. On top of that, I had a computer bite the dust last year (RIP Inspiron), which took a lot of my data with it, and I just never had the time to get Humpty-Dumpty put back together again. Combine that with my promise to Mrs. Guido not to blog that much when the cars aren't actually racing, and you get three races off into the ether. It wouldn't have happened if these computations weren't so time consuming, so allow me to make this plea:


So, that's the strange ending to last season. Now, those scores will just be exciting little bonus nuggets when the time comes to preview those races. They're mostly done now.

New Beginnings

- Well, the newest of new beginnings is that there is now a third Guido at Casa di Guido. In fact, Little Guido was sitting on my lap watching a replay of the Australian Grand Prix just a little while before I sat down to write this. And, Little Guido will be by my side watching the IndyCar season get underway after we all get home from church and another small person's birthday party on Sunday. So, that's cool.

- This may also be a new beginning for some of you coming to this humble corner of the internet for the first time. Basically, what I aim to do on this blog is quantify driver performance in IndyCar races. I do that by sticking the following numbers into a spreadsheet that gives us a number (that I call a Race Score) that we can use to compare drivers to one another:

1) Finishing Position
2) Qualifying Position
3) Starting Position (often the same as #2)
4) Average Running Position
5) Laps Led
6) Laps Completed

You can read a couple of my old posts here and here if you want to read more about it. Now, most of this stuff I can get easily from the official statistics published at, but Average Running Position, I have to calculate for myself by manually entering ever car's running position each lap into a spreadsheet. So, allow me to repeat myself from above:


- Finally, this year marks a new beginning for quite a few drivers at new teams for the first race of 2015. Here are my tweet-length thoughts about each.

- Jack Hawksworth at A.J. Foyt Enterprises -- He's got all of Super Tex's aggression. Will he get even a fraction of the results? How does adding a second car impact the team?

- Simona de Silvestro at Andretti Autosport -- Was a solid performer in 2013. How will being out of an Indy car impact her? Will racing for her future at St. Pete bring out the best or worst?

- Gabby Chaves at Bryan Herta Autosport -- Had a good run in lights. How will he handle the big cars?

- Luca Filippi at CFH Racing -- Has shown pace when given decent equipment (see GP2). Will he be able to destroy worlds while subbing for Ed on the twisties?

- Francesco Dracone at Dale Coyne Racing -- I don't expect much, especially with an only-4-race deal. But, I didn't expect much from his teammate last year, and he won a race (somehow).

- Stefano Coletti at KV Racing Technology -- Loved his pace in GP2. Loved his ability to pass. Loved his speed in preseason testing. Can it all come together?

- James Hinchcliffe at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports -- 2013 had great moments. 2014 didn't. Did his results come from being at Andretti or will the new seat spark a renaissance?

- James Jakes at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports -- I want to like Jakes. I really do. But, I'm going to need some results to justify the fandom, and I just haven't ever seen 'em.

- Simon Pagenaud at Team Penske -- Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a title contender. I think. I wonder how he'll do in a Chevy. What does it mean for the Pag / Power rivalry?

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Preview

Let's start our preview with a review of how things went last year:

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score

Last year, as you see, was a dominant performance by my Australian Overlord, Will Power. His Overlordship dominated the final two thirds of the race, and had the best-performing equipment all day (as is evidenced by his Average Running Position). Not a lot of real surprises elsewhere on the stat sheet, however.

QUICK ASIDE The whole Will Power is my overlord shtick came about because I was trying to pick a favorite driver last year after Dario Franchitti's retirement. I had a series of challenges called the Race for My Heart, and Power dominated. So, he became my arbitrary favorite driver. The overlord thing grew out of the perceived irony of jumping from Franchitti to Power, as in "I, for one, welcome my new Australian Overlord. Also, Power's growing on me. END ASIDE

So, what do we expect from this race in 2015. Well, here are my four things (well, one thing and three drivers) to watch:

1) Aerodynamics - This is obviously the big one. Much has already been said by people smarter and more tuned in to these things than me about how this year's aero kits might affect the racing. I'm intrigued because it gives every team another set of knobs to turn and another axis to compete on. I like competition. I'm intrigued.

2) Juan Pablo Montoya -  Team Penske is stacked this year. Seriously. This is some New York Yankees business. And, this is a good thing. But, the Team Penske member I'm most interested to see this year is (with all apologies to His Overlordship, Will Power) Montoya. He's got one of the longest track records of any competitor in the series. He's won races in every formula he's raced. He won in CART. He won in F1. He won (rarely, but he did it) in NASCAR. He won at Pocono last year. Can this year bring further success? Can JPM factor into the championship picture that seems to be focused on his teammates: Power and Pageneaud? Plus, Eric Hall says it's the year of Montoya, and I trust Eric Hall implicitly.

3) James Hinchcliffe - I talked briefly about Hinch above. After three race wins (and plenty of DNFs) in 2013, 2014 didn't produce much in the way of fireworks. Now, he jumps to another Honda team in SPM: a team who has a track record of success with Simon Pagenaud from 2012-14. Can the pairing of Schmidt and Hinchcliffe keep the train rolling?

4) Graham Rahal - Speaking of drivers in search of a turn-around, we come to my perpetual curiosity with Graham Rahal. Somewhere in the reptilian part of my brain, I'm convinced that Rahal has talent. All of my rational faculties, however, have told me to bail on any expectations for him. But, this year the RLL team has me trying to believe again. Rahal had the best testing results of any Honda at the Barber test, and they just signed Steak 'n Shake as a sponsor. I love Steak 'n Shake (there aren't nearly enough in Wisconsin, which is to say there are none). So, convince me to believe, young Mr. Rahal. I'm pleading with you.

After saying all of that, if you want to pick a winner: look to the "usual" suspects. Power's a good pick. So are Castroneves, Dixon, and Pagenaud. If your soul must pick a Honda, pin your hopes to RHR and say a prayer.

Stay Tuned

For any of you, who may be new to Scoring Indy, here are some things to know:

1) I post on Fridays. In the past, I've tried to turn scores around quicker than that. This year, I make no promises. I post on Fridays.

2) I post during the Verizon IndyCar Series season. I might post at other times, but I make no promises.

3) I make predictions on Twitter after qualifying and before every race. I am usually wrong, but I try to have some fun with them.

That's it for now. Get excited, people! It's a new season! I'll see you in a week!!

-- Guido