Sunday, May 18, 2014

Based Off Where They're Starting...

Statistics can help paint a picture as to what we can expect. In racing, it is no different. I have generated a list of percentage chance of winning based solely on where they roll off before they take the green flag after some careful research of all of the past Indianapolis 500s. Here's what I came up with (Please note: This is completely statistical based and has nothing to do with my personal opinion or view of a driver. Also note that statistics do get broken, so just because the statistics says a driver has 0% chance at winning, doesn't mean it is true. This is just purely a statistical analysis of past Indianapolis 500s based on where they started) (in order by percent chance of winning, not necessarily in numerical order by grid position. Total number of Indianapolis 500s = 97):

Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy's Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, leads the field at the start of the IZOD IndyCar Series 97th running of the Indianpolis 500 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Qualifying is important at every race, but how important is it at Indianapolis?
(Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America)

Because he's starting 1st, Ed Carpenter has a 21% chance of winning. 20 drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 after starting 1st.

Because they're starting 2nd and 3rd, both James Hinchcliffe and Will Power have an 11% chance at winning, with 11 drivers winning from P2 on the grid, and 11 drivers winning from P3 on the grid.

Because he qualified 5th, Simon Pagenaud has a 7% chance at winning, with seven drivers winning from this starting position on the grid.

Because he qualified 4th, Helio Castroneves has a 6% chance of winning, with six drivers in the past winning from this position.

Because they're starting 6th and 7th, both Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz each have a 5% chance at winning, with 5 drivers winning from each position in the past.

Despite its unlucky nature, Jack Hawksworth has a 4% chance at winning from 13th place. 4 drivers have won from this grid position.

Because they're starting 15th and 20th, Mikhail Aleshin and Graham Rahal have a 3% chance at winning, with drivers winning 3 times from each position in the 97 attempts.

Because they're starting 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, and 28th, Josef Newgarden, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Kurt Busch, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, Pippa Mann, and James Davison all each have a 2% chance at winning, as each spot listed has seen two drivers to go on to win the Greatest Spectacle.

Because they're starting 9th, 14th, 19th, 21th, 25th, and 27th, JR Hildebrand, Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Huertas, Townsend Bell, and Jacques Villeneuve all have a 1% chance of winning respectively, with one driver winning the race from these positions in Indianapolis 500 history.

Unfortunately, drivers have never won the Indianapolis 500 after starting 18th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd, meaning , again according to the statistics alone, Oriol Servia, Takuma Sato, Alex Tagliani, Charlie Kimball, Martin Plowman, Ryan Briscoe, Sage Karam, Sebastian Saavedra, and Buddy Lazier all share a 0% chance at winning.

Add it all up, and you get 100%. From 2003 to 2013, the winners of the Indianapolis 500 have started (in order by year) 10th, 1st, 16th, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 6th, 16th, and 12th. Do you think past statistics best represent a driver's chance at winning? Obviously there are other variables to take into account, but these stats can help paint a picture.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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