Sunday, March 11, 2018

Welcome Back (St. Petersburg

Hey there Internet! It's been (as they say) a minute. Allow me to introduce myself.

(Re) Introductions

My name is Guido. I would say that I've been an avid INDYCAR (and, yeah, I think I'll write it like that now) fan since reunification in 2008, but I've been intrigued by the sport ever since we had Indy 500 week back in Mrs. Schafer's second grade class at Battle Ground Elementary School in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Back in 2013, I had this crazy idea that there must be some way to quantify race performance in INDYCAR. So, I started this little blog to try and do that. Over the first year of doing this, I kept revising and changing my formulas, and I started to land on one that I thought worked. This formula, however, caused me to do WAY more data entry than I reasonably had time to do. So, I don't think I've completed a full season of blogging since back in '13. This year, I aim to change that, and here's how.


I recently moved. I don't mention this often, but I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor. I took a new call back in December (if you're a member of the clergy, take my advice, don't start a new call a week before Christmas...). So, with the new beginning professionally, I started taking stock of the things I'd like to make sure were part of my life. This blog was one of them. So I asked myself, what was stopping me from blogging? The answer was data entry. I was just doing too much.

Enter Brittany Rees. One day, I proposed a challenge to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers: calculate Average Running Position for each car in an INDYCAR race, using only the publicly available lap chart (and using only Excel). Brittany has been my great friend since fourth grade. She's amazing. She plays in an awesome band called Frank Muffin. Check them out. She figured it out, and now the work that used to take hours upon hours to do, I can now do in 15 minutes.

So, let's take a look at that work:


Below, you will see my scorecard for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Let's walk through each column, giving a brief description of what you'll find from a Scoring Indy spreadsheet:

Finish: This is the position in which a driver finishes the race.

Driver: This is who the driver is.

Grid: This is the driver's starting position.

Led: This is the number of laps that the driver led during the race.

Completed: This is the number of laps the driver completed in the race.

ARP: This is the driver's Average Running Position during the laps they completed.

Rees Score: Formerly known as Race Score, changed in honor of Brittany Rees (the savior of this blog). This is my main tool for analyzing race performance. It accounts for all the factors above, and in a later post, we'll take a deep dive into it.

Index: This is a driver's performance relative to a "normal" performance for that finishing position. Anything positive is considered good. Negatives are bad. This is another one of those things we'll do a deep dive on in a later post.

The Scorecard
Firestone Grand Prix -- 2018

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedARPRees ScoreIndex
17Claman De Melo22010913.0334.4712.25

Quick Hits

- This is where I post some quick observations about the race itself or the numbers. So, let's do some numbers first.

- Looking at overall Rees Scores, the top two this week are a closely bunched pair of performances up at the top of the field at P1 & P2. Bourdais earns high marks for (obviously) winning the race, as well as leading 30 laps. Rahal earns most of his 85.32 points by moving up to the second step of the podium from the last spot on the grid.

- Index can be instructive, too, in looking at these two drives. Rahal's Index of 21.43 shows that he should feel better about his drive to P2 than Bourdais should feel about P1 with an Index of 19.70. Now, this is obviously splitting hairs, because these numbers are very close together. Also, Index ratings this high are very good.

- I also want to give a moment of commendation to Robert Wickens and his Index of 19.62. I'm sure he wanted to win. I'm sure that he thought he could win. I'm sure he thought he should win. But, he had a much better drive than most people who finish P18. I was not prepared to be impressed, but I was.

- On the other end of the rookie spectrum, you have Jordan King. King started high in the field. King ran well for a few laps. Then, King went to the back and basically stayed there. Maybe car owner (and seat splitter) Ed Carpenter saw something to be happy about in King's drive. But, the numbers sure don't.

Stay Tuned

So, that's my first post of 2018. I firmly believe that this year will be different. I firmly believe we'll make it through the season. Be sure to follow on Twitter @ScoringIndy for updates. I'm looking forward to being with you all this season. See you out there!!

-- Guido