Friday, March 25, 2016

Number Dives for St. Petersburg

Hey there Internet! It's Guido back at you with some Scoring Indy goodness for your Friday enjoyment! This time around, we'll take a couple of dives down some of the quick hits from my St. Petersburg scorecard. So, let's get to it!

The Kids are Alright

First, a quick look at the rookies, who by and large had successful days. Here we go with their scorelines and some thoughts:

Alexander Rossi

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score

- Nothing spectacular here, which (in a race where this happened) can really be considered an accomplishment. Rossi, being a late addition to this season's lineup, has little experience with this car; but if his GP2 (and to a lesser extend F1) record is anything to go by, he can take an automobile around a road course with aplomb. I'm reserving judgement on him so far, but this was a check in the positive column for the young American.

Conor Daly

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score

- Daly finishes one spot behind Rossi in race classification, but with some notable upgrades in our scoring system (specifically all of them). He improved by one more position, from P20 on the grid to P13 at the end. He actually led laps (citation here), and while Dale Coyne: the Napoleon of Race Strategy (he won a race with Carlos Huertas) might have strategized Daly to the front, it was Conor who kept himself there. Keep watching that clip for evidence of him dueling aptly with Kanaan, Pagenaud, and Montoya. Of all the rookies, Daly has the most experience with this (or any) generation of indy cars. He's my pick for Rookie of the Year.

Max Chilton

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score

- I have to admit something. Chilton fascinates me. When he raced Formula One, I watched him intently, because I had a thing for Caterham (RIP) and he was running for Marussia, so "my" guys were always battling him to be just a little farther from the back. When he came over and ran Indy Lights for Carlin, I was fascinated to see how well he could do. When he picked up some podiums (and won an oval, at Iowa), I was intrigued; and I thought he might challenge for an Indy Lights title this year. But, Chilton jumped from Carlin to the fourth car at Ganassi in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Can't fault him for trying to run in the big leagues, but I'm not convinced that he's ready for it. Prove me wrong, Max.

Solving Sato

Takuma Sato fascinates me also, because I just can't figure him out. I don't think I ever will, either, but he makes me feel all sorts of emotions. Knowing that Foyt cars have been good at St. Pete in recent years, I took Sato as one of my Fantasy Indycar picks for the official fantasy game. Frankly, I also took him because I took Pagenaud, Castroneves, and Hunter-Reay; and I needed someone who wouldn't put a big hit on my salary cap. So, you can imagine how gutted I was when I saw this on Lap 1.

But, Sato smartly maneuvered the rest of the race and wound up with a line on our scorecard that looks like this:

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score

Yes, despite a running position worse than that of Max Chilton, (almost entirely due to that incident I linked to above), Sato brought it home in P6, improving four spots on his starting position. So, here's my thesis:

When Sato thinks he can win, he takes risks. Those risks (like this one), never seem to work out well. When he thinks he can't win (ala getting buried early at St. Pete) he drives a smart race, which he is fully capable of doing. It's almost the inverse of his famous saying "No Attack, No Chance." In this case if he thinks he has no chance, he makes no attack. And, in so doing he manages to pull off a good finish. It's worth noting that in Sato's lone IndyCar win (Long Beach, 2013), he took the lead in the pits, not on the track.

Take it easy Taku! (Unless it hands Dario Franchitti the 500, then do what you've been doing...)

Stay Tuned

Well, that's all the dives we'll do into the St. Petersburg. It's Good Friday, so I'm off to church for the rest of the day. (For those of you new to the blog, I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor.) A blessed Holy Week to you all if that's your thing. If not, have a great one anyway! See you next week to talk Phoenix!

-- Guido

Monday, March 14, 2016

The St. Petersburg Scorecard -- 2016

Hey there, Internet! It's Guido, and it's race season in the Verizon IndyCar Series! That means it's time for us to get numerical! Also, my exclamation point quota has now been reached. So, here's the scorecard:

2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Scorecard

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedA.R.P.Race Score

Quick Hits

Here are the quick hits from St. Pete:

- Get better, Will Power. My tens of loyal readers will know that I have a lot of fun pretending to be an arrogant Power fan. I call him my Australian Overlord, and occasionally throw out a pro wrestling style heel promo or two. Concussions, however, are serious stuff. Power is a major talent, and (as much as I love Oriol Servia) the series is worse with His Overlordship on the sidelines. So, come back soon, Will; and come back healthy.

- To the numbers: there are a couple of interesting groupings here:
  1. Daly, Castroneves, & Kanaan right around 50
  2. Chilton, Servia, & Andretti in the mid 20s
  3. Hinchcliffe, Bourdais, & Newgarden under 0
  4. Kimball, Dixon, & Sato in the 45 club
- There are a couple of really cool numbers this week as well:
  1. Conor Daly notching a 50.83 back in P13
  2. Mikhail Aleshin with zero ring rust scoring 64.92
  3. Takuma Sato bringing a car home in P6 that ran P13.65 all day
- Finally, I pretty much never noticed Spencer Pigot or Alexander Rossi on the telecast. They received entirely uninspiring Race Scores. I'm pretty willing to say that this is a good thing. Way to keep your noses clean, rookies! (Oh, look there, my exclamation point works again!)

Stay Tuned

As I said above, we have some time between races. I'm intrigued by some of the stuff above, so expect a bit of a deep dive going forward as we approach Phoenix. Oh yeah! Phoenix! Enjoy it, friends!

-- Guido