Thursday, May 21, 2015

Analysis of the Field

Anyone who follows my site knows that I absolutely love statistics. I'm one of those 'numbers never lie' kind of people. The field of 33 has been locked for the 99th Indianapolis 500, and with it comes a lot of statistical and observational points in which we can analyze the field: from grid positions and nationalitiy, to former winners / pole sitters, and average finish and positions gained. Here's a full rundown of the field and what past performances from the drivers as well as the previous 98 races tells us about race day on Sunday. Up first, the grid for the 99th Indianapolis 500:

Grid (Position, car number, driver, four lap average speed, engine, team):

Row 1
1) #9 Scott Dixon, 226.760, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
2) #1 Will Power, 226.350, Chevrolet, Team Penske
3) #22 Simon Pagenaud, 226.145, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Row 2
4) #10 Tony Kanaan, 225.503, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
5) #3 Helio Castroneves, 225.502, Chevrolet, Team Penske
6) #25 Justin Wilson, 225.279, Honda, Andretti Autosport

Row 3
7) #11 Sebastien Bourdais, 225.193, Chevrolet, KV Racing
8) #27 Marco Andretti, 225.189, Honda, Andretti Autosport
9) #21 Josef Newgarden, 225.187, Chevrolet, CFH Racing

Row 4
10) #6 JR Hildebrand, 225.099, Chevrolet, CFH Racing
11) #26 Carlos Munoz, 225.042, Honda, Andretti Autosport
12) #20T Ed Carpenter, 224.883, Chevrolet, CFH Racing

Row 5
13) #32 Oriol Servia, 224.777, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
14) #83 Charlie Kimball, 224.743, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
15) #2 Juan Pablo Montoya, 224.657, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Row 6
16) #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, 224.573, Honda, Andretti Autosport
17) #15 Graham Rahal, 224.290, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18) #18 Carlos Huertas, 224.233, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing

Row 7
19) #29 Simona de Silvestro, 223.838, Honda, Andretti Autosport
20) #7 James Jakes, 223.790, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
21) #48 Alex Tagliani, 223.722, Honda, AJ Foyt Enterprises

Row 8
22) #8 Sage Karam, 223.595, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
23) #43 Conor Daly, 223.482, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
24) #24 Townsend Bell, 223.447, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing

Row 9
25) #14 Takuma Sato, 223.226, Honda, AJ Foyt Enterprises
26) #63 Pippa Mann, 223.104, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing
27) #98 Gabby Chaves, 222.916, Honda, Bryan Herta Autosport

Row 10
28) #17 Sebastian Saavedra, 222.898, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
29) #41 Jack Hawksworth, 223.738, Honda, AJ Foyt Enterprises
30) #4 Stefano Coletti, 222.001, Chevrolet, KV Racing

Row 11
31) #88 Bryan Clauson, 221.358, Chevrolet, Jonathan Byrd's Racing
32) #19 James Davison, 223.747, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing*
33) #5 Ryan Briscoe, 223.519, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports**

*Tristan Vautier qualified 21st in place of the absent James Davison
**James Hinchcliffe qualified the car 23rd but is unable to race due to injury
(Both of the above changes result in a drop to the rear of the field)

Nations Represented (number represents how many drivers from that nation)

United States of America - 11
Colombia - 5
England - 4
Australia - 3
Brazil - 2
France - 2
Canada - 1
Japan - 1
Monaco - 1
New Zealand - 1
Spain - 1
Switzerland - 1

Former Winners of the Indianapolis 500

Helio Castroneves (2001, '02, and '09)
Juan Pablo Montoya (2000)
Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014)
Scott Dixon (2008)
Tony Kanaan (2013)

Former Polesitters of the Indianapolis 500

Alex Tagliani (2011)
Ed Carpenter (2012 and '13)
Helio Castroneves (2003, '07, '09, and '10)
Ryan Briscoe (2012)
Scott Dixon (2008)
Tony Kanaan (2005)

Average Finishing Position of Participants at Indianapolis 500 (career)

Carlos Munoz 3.0
Juan Pablo Montoya 3.0
Helio Castroneves 7.1
Sage Karam 9.0
Scott Dixon 9.9
Marco Andretti 11.3
Oriol Servia 11.5
Simon Pagenaud 12.0
Tony Kanaan 12.2
Will Power 13.6
JR Hildebrand 14.8
Charlie Kimball 15.3
Justin Wilson 15.3
Ed Carpenter 15.4
Ryan Briscoe 15.4
Ryan Hunter-Reay 15.7
James Davison 16.0
Alex Tagliani 16.3
Carlos Huertas 17.0
Sebastien Bourdais 17.0
Townsend Bell 17.4
James Jakes 17.5
Jack Hawksworth 20.0
Takuma Sato 20.4
Graham Rahal 21.4
Conor Daly 22.0
Simona de Silvestro 23.5
Sebastian Saavedra 24.0
Pippa Mann 24.7
Josef Newgarden 27.7
Bryan Clauson 30.0
Gabby Chaves
Stefano Coletti

Most Positions Gained by Participants at Indianapolis 500 (career)

Oriol Servia 42
Charlie Kimball 26
Sage Karam 22
Ryan Hunter-Reay 21
Sebastian Saavedra 19
Simon Pagenaud 13
James Davison 12
Pippa Mann 10
Conor Daly 9
Simona de Silvestro 8
Juan Pablo Montoya 6
Carlos Huertas 4
Sebastien Bourdais 4
Carlos Munoz 3
Justin Wilson 3
James Jakes 2
Bryan Clauson 1
Takuma Sato -1
Jack Hawksworth -7
Townsend Bell -7
JR Hildebrand -10
Alex Tagliani -13
Marco Andretti -13
Helio Castroneves -18
Ryan Briscoe -19
Scott Dixon -25
Ed Carpenter -28
Tony Kanaan -36
Graham Rahal -38
Will Power -42
Josef Newgarden -43
Gabby Chaves
Stefano Coletti

'Based On Where They Start'

Returning for another year is the 'Based On Where They Start.' Last year, I tweeted out the probability of each driver winning from their grid position based on past Indianapolis 500s. I am again applying the previous 98 Indianapolis 500s to determine what chances each driver has of winning based on where they qualified. Here are the stats:

20 drivers have won from pole. Scott Dixon thus has a 20.4% chance of winning.

11 drivers have won from 2nd and 3rd place. Will Power and Simon Pagenaud share a 11.2% chance of winning.

7 drivers have won from 5th place. Helio Castroneves has a 7.1% chance of winning.

6 drivers have won from 4th place. Tony Kanaan has a 6.1% chance of winning.

5 drivers have won from the 6th and 7th place on the grid. Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais have a 5.1% chance of winning.

4 drivers have won from the luckiest position on the grid, P13. That gives Oriol Servia a 4.1% chance of winning.

3 drivers have won from 15th and 20th positions. Both Juan Pablo Montoya and James Jakes share a 3.1 % chance of winning.

2 drivers have won from positions 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 19th,, 22nd, and 28th each. This gives Marco Andretti, JR Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Simona de Silvestro, Sage Karam, and Sebastian Saavedra a 2% chance of winning each.

1 driver has from 9th, 14th, 21st, 25th, and 27th, meaning Josef Newgarden, Charlie Kimball, Alex Tagliani, Takuma Sato, and Gabby Chaves all have a 1% chance of winning.

0 drivers haves won from 18th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd and equal share of 0% chance at winning. These drivers are Carlos Huertas, Conor Daly, Townsend Bell, Pippa Mann, Jack Hawksworth, Stefano Coletti, Bryan Clauson, James Davison, and Ryan Briscoe.

Personal Predictions

There are certain drivers in the field that are tough to bet against. Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and Scott Dixon. These guys are always considered to be winners. If I had to pick one, I would pick Marco.

Some drivers to watch make their way up through the field are Sage Karam, Conor Daly, and Gabby Chaves. I'd keep an eye on Chaves, as he has had a good car in traffic this month.

I'm not expecting much from AJ Foyt's team, and three high qualifiers for CFH Racing could either end really well or a disaster for the team. Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter have never had much luck in the race, and we know about JR Hildebrand;s misfortunes in the race.

It's such a talented field, who knows what to expect!

Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Trying Week

This week has been one of the most stressful weeks as a race fan that I can remember. It seems like nothing has gone right. Five ugly accidents, rain, rule changes, fans bickering, despondency in the paddock, and a general sense of unease has swept through Indycar since Helio Castroneves's car took flight Wednesday, it seems like one thing after another after another happens in Indycar.

After Helio's crash, every fan with a computer became an engineer. While it was annoying to have 15,000 different opinions clashing, it was apparent (even though I didn't think it at first) that something was wrong with the new aero kits put on the cars. Something on the car was causing the cars to take flight. Later on in the day, Pippa Mann had herself a bad shunt, hitting the inside wall out of turn four and then the pit lane divider. She thankfully walked away with just a bad limp.

The car driven by Helio Castroneves is airborne after hitting the wall in the first turn during practice for the Indianapolis 500. (AP)
What a frightening image (Photo: AP)

One day later, Josef Newgarden had himself a violent crash. Many connected the dots; Helio and Josef were both running Chevy aero kits, so it must be something Chevrolet doing. Like Helio, Josef walked away unscathed.

Day one of qualifying was set to be one of the best qualifying sessions we had ever seen. Speeds were going to be high and, maybe, an attempt would get close to the 237 MPH mark that Arie Luyendyk set in 1996. Unfortunately, it rained and rained and rained. This day was lost, and qualifying would be packed into one day.

An early practice Sunday morning saw Ed Carpenter with a heavy accident. His crash led the car to clip the catch fencing, but thankfully, nothing violent occurred after contact with the fence. Three times, again by a Chevrolet car, in a handful of days is a terrible coincidence. This latest incident sent waves of changes throughout the paddock: each driver would get one and only one attempt to qualify, no points would be awarded, more downforce would be added, and boost would be taken off that was added for qualifying. Qualifying got in, and no one wrecked (thankfully). It wasn't a great show by any means, but it served its purpose.

Ed Carpenter (20) of CHF Racing hits the wall coming
Carpenter walked away from this one (Photo: Tom Figura / Indy Star)

Mercifully, I thought we had made it through some of the worst of it. Then, in a practice session today, James Hinchcliffe suffered a mechanical failure, launching the car into the turn three wall at an incredibly harsh angle. Hinch was extricated from the car and taken to a local hospital, where he remains in stable condition. This incident adds to what has been a terrible week of Indycar practice at IMS.

So, what are my thoughts? I've been pretty quiet on Twitter. I've been sitting back as a sponge and I was just trying to absorb all of the incidents and thoughts that everyone had. So, here I go:

Thought 1) I am incredibly grateful that the five incidents that have happened haven't resulted in fatal injuries. The impacts sustained by Newgarden and Hinchcliffe could have easily been fatal hits two decades ago. The safety innovations from Dallara, as well as the SAFER barrier and the HANS device, may have saved a couple of lives this weekend. I am thankful that no driver lost their life.

Thought 2) I still don't know shit about aerodynamics so I won't pander to a crowd of people on Twitter acting like I know what I'm talking about. It would be like a blind person leading a bunch of blind people. I can't tell you why the cars keep flipping so I won't pretend like I know what I'm saying.

Thought 3) Indycar is playing a dangerous game. Qualifying on Sunday was something out of the old IR-03/07 cars: just hold your foot down and do your best. The increase in downforce slowed things down and, in race conditions, would bunch cars up. Does that sound familiar to anyone? This could lead to another terrible tragedy come race time at a banked track. Indycar needs to figure this out by time Indycar heads to Texas on June 6th.

Thought 4) RACING IS DANGEROUS. There is no way to ever prevent crashes. From mechanical failures, to drivers pushing the ragged edge, to miscommunications, to shit happens, crashes are going to happen.

Thought 5) Given that there have been five huge crashes in as many days, I am a tad bit nervous for the race. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely jacked to go to the race and see my fourth Indianapolis 500, but the week leading up to this race has been pretty brutal.

Let me know what you all think!

-Matthew Hickey

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Indianapolis

It's the Indianapolis 500! The race that we all look forward to. Because the race is so special, #FantasyIndycar has two special rules: 1) Players get a chance to earn a 25 point bonus is they correctly guess the pole winner 2) Players earn a 25 point bonus if they post a picture of their favoriet Indy memory. The championship leader is highlighted in blue, and the pole prediction is highlighted in yellow:

Name Twitter Handle    
Alan Stewart _alanstewart Helio Munoz JPM Andretti Dixon Helio
Amy Woedl OpenWheelMom Hawk Helio JPM Carpenter Rahal Carpenter
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Helio Carpenter JPM Dixon Kanaan Helio
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 Dixon Helio Andretti Carpenter J.R. Power
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Helio Dixon Carpenter Newg JPM Carpenter
Conor Daly conordaly22 Daly Carpenter Helio Andretti Kanaan Helio
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Andretti Helio Carpenter JPM Bell Power
David Redner IndyCART JPM Helio Dixon Carpenter J.R. Power
DJ Jordan djordan3223 Carpenter Andretti J.R. Kanaan Servia JPM
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy JPM Helio RHR Andretti Carpenter Helio
Gina Navarra  gmnavarra Power Andretti Helio RHR Kanaan Hinch
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Andretti Munoz RHR Carpenter Helio Munoz
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Andretti Helio Bell Simona Carpenter JPM
James Sedlmayr dfd827 Helio RHR Dixon JPM Andretti Power
Jason McVeigh jasekm Helio Kanaan RHR Carpenter Bell Tagliani
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Helio JPM Dixon Carpenter J.R. Helio
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 Helio Carpenter J.R. Daly Andretti Carpenter
Johanna Husband writebend Dixon Helio Tagliani Servia JPM Power
Justin Mann mannbeast Carpenter J.R. Newg Clauson Daly Carpenter
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli Carpenter Andretti Kanaan Helio JPM Helio
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 JPM Carpenter Andretti Helio Munoz JPM
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Andretti JPM Helio Rahal Munoz Carpenter
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG Rahal Hinch Carpenter Andretti RHR Andretti
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN Munoz JPM Kanaan Andretti Helio Helio
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Carpenter JPM Andretti Kanaan Helio Carpenter
Mitch Robinson mitchrobinson_ Carpenter JPM Munoz Helio Bell Power
Paige Hill paigehilll Rahal Andretti Newg Power Carpenter JPM
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi Bell Carpenter JPM Dixon Helio Power
Sam Klein sklein31 Kanaan Carpenter Andretti Munoz JPM JPM
Sandy Lamparello npssandy Andretti Helio Kanaan Munoz Carpenter Andretti
Sarah Hall flywheel011 JPM Andretti Munoz Karam Servia JPM
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3 RHR Helio Carpenter JPM Andretti JPM
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Carpenter Kanaan Munoz JPM Rahal Power

Penalties: N/A

Top 3 most picked: 1) Carpenter - 26 1) Castroneves - 26 2) Andretti - 22 3) JPM - 21
Not picked: Buddy Lazier, Coyne TBA, Carlos Huertas, Charlie Kimball, Gabby Chaves, James Jakes, Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud, Pippa Mann, Sebastian Saavedra, Sebastien Bourdais, Stefano Coletti, and Takuma Sato.

Time for the big race! Double points at stake, making this a pivotal round for the championship. 

-Matthew Hickey

Winners and Losers: GPI

Here are the winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis:


Will Power
Another world class win for Will Power on his way to career win number 25, which is staggering in itself. These are the types of races that I love from Power; pure dominance, class of the field. A huge boost to Power's championship hopes as well, as he jumped to P2 in the standings.

Graham Rahal
Did.... did Graham Rahal finish second two weeks in a row? Is Graham top-five in the championship points? Did someone abduct Graham's team and replace them with someone else, or is that someone else under the helmet posing as Graham? Whatever the case, Rahal is once again the class of the Hondas. Nothing short of impressed with Graham so far. Hopefully he finishes higher than P33 at this year's 500.

Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya had a stealthy and quick performance on his way to a P3 finish. The best part about his performance? He comes out of the race with a championship lead.

Charlie Kimball
The read-headed stepchild of Chip Ganassi's squad (figuratively and literally) had a very quiet race, but he came in P5. Granted, he did gain at the misery of Simon Pagenaud and JR Hildebrand, but that's not to take away from Charlie. Also, it's a happy occasion because for the first race this year, Charlie didn't get hit or hit someone!


ABC sucks. They're an embarrassment to the sport. For us at home, the race was pretty dull. The last 20 laps was a 'All Hail Will Power' session. Scott Goodyear does his best to inject worthless opinions and pointless stories into the broadcast in his douchy, monotone voice that could put a kid laced with sugar and Mountain Dew to sleep. While I actually like Eddie Cheever as a person, I don't think he makes for the best commentator. This makes poor Alan Bestwick with an uphill battle, as he does a perfectly fine job. So head nimrod, plus the guy who actually won the Indianapolis 500, plus a decent commentator, coupled with poor coverage, equals a shit product.

Justin Wilson
Not the best debut to Andretti Autosport for Justin Wilson, though I put little fault on him. The car and the team clearly don't appear to be up to snuff. Barely getting higher than P18, Wilson's race ended after a gearbox failure. Let's hope the big race doesn't go this poorly for Wilson.

JR Hildebrand
Poor JR Hildebrand. I dogged JR early in the weekend, as his pace was among the slowest of all Chevy's. With 15 laps left, JR was running fifth. I ate my words, and I could only admit that I was thoroughly impressed with the race he crafted and the pace he was showing, especially since he hadn't raced a road course since 2013. Something mechanical forced JR to pit, ruining his race. This can't detract from the fact that he ran a very good race. *tips cap*

Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud is the only Team Penske driver to not finish a race this season, and the only problem is, is he's not finished two of the five races so far this season. This does not bode well for his championship hopes. While he has been incredibly quick, it's the results that matter.

Cone of Shame

Helio Castroneves
It's only fitting that in Helio Castroneve's 300th career race, he finds a way to be a pain in the ass once again. Heading into turn one on lap one, Helio broke a bit late and failed to apex the corner, hitting and spinning Scott Dixon, causing chaos behind him. If it was Will Power, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, or any number of drivers, there would have been a penalty. Helio? Nah, of course not. Not only that, but race control didn't give us an explanation as to why he wasn't penalized, which is equally stupid. The best part? Helio wound up P6. I just don't see how people are blind to the fact that Helio is a dirty driver and does shit like this on a regular basis. Later on in the race, he swooped across the white lines, thus leaving the boundries of the track, to pass Stefano Coletti, and then cut all the way back across the track to the left side. If that isn't the textbook definitions (notice plural) of an illegal overtake and a subsequent block, then I have no clue what is. Wake up people, Helio is a great driver, yes, no denying that, but he is a dirty one as well.

Next is the big one!!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fantasy Indycar Picks: GPI

Here are the Fantasy Indycar picks for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis (current championship leader highlighted in blue):

Name Twitter Handle  
Alan Stewart _alanstewart Helio Bourdais Pagenaud Hawk RHR
Amy Woedl OpenWheelMom Pagenaud Helio Filippi Wilson JPM
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Pagenaud Rahal Newg Andretti Dixon
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 Wilson J.R. JPM Filippi Kanaan
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Newg Kanaan Rahal JPM Power
Conor Daly conordaly22 Newg Pagenaud Saavedra RHR Sato
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Rahal RHR Power Pagenaud Wilson
David Redner IndyCART Power Dixon Hinch Sato RHR
DJ Jordan djordan3223 Wilson Hawk Bourdais Pagenaud Power
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy Power Pagenaud Hawk Saavedra Wilson
Gina Navarra  gmnavarra Newg Bourdais Rahal Kanaan Sato
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Rahal Saavedra Kanaan Filippi Pagenaud
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Wilson Saavedra Chaves Power Bourdais
James Sedlmayr dfd827 Saavedra Rahal Kimball Wilson Pagenaud
Jason McVeigh jasekm Hinch Sato Wilson Pagenaud Kanaan
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Hinch Saavedra Rahal J.R. Wilson
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 Wilson Munoz Hawk Bourdais Pagenaud
Johanna Husband writebend Kanaan Pagenaud Hinch Hawk Bourdais
Justin Mann mannbeast Rahal RHR Saavedra Wilson Pagenaud
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli Wilson Pagenaud Hawk Bourdais Newg
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 Bourdais Filippi Wilson Pagenaud Saavedra
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Kimball Hawk Wilson Pagenaud Bourdais
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG Pagenaud Hawk Bourdais Hinch Newg
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN Saavedra J.R. Wilson Filippi Bourdais
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Munoz JPM Rahal Bourdais Newg
Mitch Robinson mitchrobinson_ Hawk Pagenaud RHR Wilson Dixon
Paige Hill paigehilll Sato Rahal Power Hawk Bourdais
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi Wilson Bourdais Newg RHR Pagenaud
Sam Klein sklein31 Pagenaud Wilson Saavedra Rahal Bourdais
Sandy Lamparello npssandy Wilson Rahal JPM Kimball Newg
Sarah Hall flywheel011 Pagenaud Helio RHR Hawk Kimball
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3 Newg Hawk Bourdais Pagenaud Rahal
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Wilson Bourdais Sato Newg Saavedra

Penalties: Amy Woedl and Sam Klein have been penalized for individual pick violations (both selected a driver not racing this weekend), thus they will bot receive a penalty for that individual pick, but not a penalty for all of their picks. 

Top 3 most picked: 1) Pagenaud - 22 2) Wilson - 20 3) Bourdais - 17
Not picked: Stefano Coletti, James Jakes. Carlos Huertas, and Francesco Dracone.


-Matthew Hickey