IndyCar/NASCAR prediction for 3/30/14

IndyCar begins its season today in St. Petersburg FL, with the Firestone Grand Prix. Here I’ll examine how the active drivers for the race have done on this old street course in the past.
Starts/Wins: Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon have raced all 9 IndyCar events. Amazingly, neither have a victory, nor does Marco Andretti with 8. James Hinchcliffe managed a win in 2 starts, and Helio Castroneves 3 in 8 tries.

Top 5: Kanaan is 7-9m Helio 6-8, Hinchcliffe 2-2. Scott Dixon is 4-9.

Most laps without victory: Dixon 833, Kanaan 814, Marco 602. Fewest: Hinchcliffe, 210.

Most laps led without victory: Dixon 94, Justin Wilson 70. Everyone else has under 30.Notably, Graham Rahal led 19 laps total toward his lone victory here.

Best gain in position per race, 3 race minimum: Charlie Kimball averages 5.6.

Running at finish: Graham Rahal, Wilson and Dixon all are perfect through 6 races.
Lead lap finish: Justin Wilson is perfect through 6.

Predicting the top 5:
1 Kanaan
2 polesitter Takuma Sato
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay
4 Carlos Munoz
5 Will Power
Now to Martinsville for the NASCAR Sprint Cup:

Jeff Gordon, starting in row 3, leads active drivers with his 43rd start here today. Joe Nemech, starting last, makes start number 38. Nemechek is still waiting on win #1 here. Also: Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle are 0-22, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth 0-28, Kasey Kahne 0-20.
Gordon is 8-42 here, with Jimmie Johnson an impressive 8-24, and Denny Hamlin a more impressive 4-16, Tony Stewart is 3-29.
Top 5: These drivers score in this category over 50% of the time: Gordon 27-42, Jimmie 17-24, Hamlin 9-16. Nemechek is 0-37, Biffle 0-22, Casey Mears 0-21
Top 10: More over 50%: Gordon 34-42, Jimmie 21-24, Tony Stewart 15-29, Dale Jr 15-28, Hamlin 13-16, McMurray 12-22, Clint Bowyer 10-16, Kyle Busch 9-18, Brad Keselowski 5-8. David Gilliland 0-15; Travis Kvapil 0-16; David Reutimann 0-14, Reed Sorenson 0-12, Paul Menard 0-13.

Laps turned without victory: Nemechek 14224, followed by Kenseth 13901, Dale Jr 13877, Biffle 10804, McMurray 10378.

Most laps led without victory: Dale Jr, 868, Kyle Busch 465, Kenseth 371, Bowyer 307, McMurray 117, Nemechek 116.
Best average gain in position per race, 3 race minimum:
Keselowski leads here, with a 6.7 gain. Jimmie is 5.7 , Kenseth 5.3

Running at finish: Gordon is perfect through 42. Biffle is next with 22, Carl Edwards with 19.
Lead lap finishes: Jimmie is 23-24. Keselowski is 7-8. Hamlin and Bowyer 14-16,
Top 10 prediction:
1 Jimmie
2 Hamln
3 Kenseth
4 Kyle Busch
5 Gordon
6 Logano
7 Edwards
8 Keselowski
9 Stewart
10 Bowyer

At 3pm ET today, NASCAR features the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, your basic 1.5 mile track.

Jeff Gordon will make his 17th start here, most of any driver. Tony Stewart in his 16th.
Just 6 active drivers have won here. Jimmie Johnson is 4-12 (.333), Kenseth 3/14 (.214), Carl Edwards 2/9 (.222), Kyle Busch 1/10 (.1), Tony Stewart 1/15, Gordon 1/16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is winless in 14, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick are 0/13.
19 active drivers have a top-5 record here. Most impressive is Matt Kenseth, 6/14, and Jimmie, 5/12, along with Carl Edwards 4/9, Kyle Busch 4/10 Casey Mears has never reached the top 5 in 10 runs, nor has Martin Truex Jr in 8.
Top 10: Despite just one win, Tony Stewart has the best % for top 10 runs, going 9/15. Also at least 50% here: Dale Jr (7/14, Jimmie 7/12, Kenseth 7/14, Greg Biffle 6/10, Kasey Kahne 5/10, Carl Edwards 5/9, Kyle Busch 5/10, Denny Hamlin 4/8. David Gilliland has yet to find the top 10 in 7 starts.
Laps run: Harvick has turned 3487 laps without a victory, leading this field. Other ohfers: Kurt Busch 3364, Dale Jr 3312, Ryan Newman 3262, Jamie McMurray 2938, Kasey Kahne 2562.
Laps led without victory: Dale Jr leads this category, with 232, followed by Kahne at 172, Biffle at 115, Newman with 98. Kenseth’s 513 laps led out of 3360 run here lifetime, 15% is the best ratio of active drivers. Carl Edwards’ 2 wins have come while leading 160 laps.
Avg finish to start gain in position, 3 race minimum: Harvick gains 8.4 positions per race, sporting an average finish of 12.7. Among those gaining at least 5 spots: Kenseth 5.6, Hamlin 7.0, Dale Jr 5.5, Trevor Bayne 8.4 (averages a 17th place finish tho), Paul Menard 6.7. Casey Mears 5.7, Gilliland 5.3, David Ragan 7.0.

Running at finish: Harvick is perfect in 13, as is Jimmie in 12, McMurray in 11, Casey Mears in 10.
Lead lap finish: Carl Edwards has the only perfect record, always on the lead lap in 9 races. Those with one blemish include Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano.

Putting this together, and reading through the starting grid, here’s how I see the top 10:

1 Austin Dillon
2 Jimmie
3 Bowyer
4 McMurray
5 Logano
6 Edwards
7 Harvick
8 Truex
9 Dale Jr.
10 Vickers
Looking back to last week, here’s how my predicted top 10 ranked:6th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 17th, 10th, 1st, 9th, 20, 39th (engine). 9 of my top 10 finished running, and 9 finished on the lead lap, and lead 298 of the 312 laps.

2014The Profit on CNBC 500 (NASCAR Sprint Cup) race analysis

Up in time to deliver some NASCAR stats for you as the Sprint Cup series heads to Phoenix.

Starts: Joe Nemechek, starting 38th, is winless here in 27 starts. Jamie McMurray, who starts 3rd, is 0-21 and likely the best driver to end any winless streak today. Greg Biffle is 0-20 and starts 6th.
Win percentage: 12 drivers in the field have won here. Jimmie Johnson, starting 4th is 4-21, Kevin Harvick (starting 13) is 4-22.
Top 5s: JJ is 14-21 running in the top 5, an amazing stat. No other driver is at 50%. Closest is Hamlin (8-17). Biffle has the most top-5 scores without a win.
Top 10s: JJ is also 17-21 in this regard. Also notable: Gordon is 20-30, Carl Edwards 11-19, Kyle Busch 11-18, Hamlin 9-17. Biffle again, with the biggest deficit: 7 top-10s without a win.
Laps without victory: Joe Nemechek has run 6381 laps without a victory. McMurray 6239, Biffle 6172, Casey Mears 5408. JJ’s 4 wins in 6594 looks pretty tough by comparison.
Laps led without victory: Biffle 389, Truex Jr 101,
As for best ratio, Kasey Kahne’s lone victory came while leading 55 laps.
Best gain in position per race, 3 race minimum: JJ gains 5.7 positions, Harvick 5.7, Morgan Shepherd 5.5, Danica Patrick 6.6
Running at finish: Gordon is 27-30, Tony Stewart is perfect in 23 races, as is Harvick and Kurt Busch in 22, JJ in 21, Hamlin in 17, and Paul Menard in 14.
Lead lap finishes: Gordon is 22-30, JJ 19-21, Carl Edwards 16-19, Kyle Busch 15-18, Hamlin 14-17. AJ Allmendinger 7-9.
Here’s my top-10 prediction:
1 Jimmie Johnson
2 Brad Keselowski (hate)
3 Logano (hate)
4 Dale Jr.
5 Biffle
6 McMurray
7 Harvick
8 Kyle Busch
9 Kyle Larson
10 Kurt Busch

(what’s with the hate? See my previous post referencing the 2013 Chase)
Last week at the Great American Race, my predicted top 10 finished 6th, 4th, 31st, 21st, 43rd (engine), 32nd, 12th, 2nd, 36th, and 18th. 9 of the 10 finished running, 5 finished on the lead lap, and combined for 62 laps led

Show some love for http://www.racing-reference.info where I borrowed some of these stats.

Analysis/predictions of women’s tennis finals and NASCAR Sprint Cup

After a long day of handicapping which was made longer by some losses, I put the checkbook aside and focus on these events. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my first Idealistic Sport podcast at http://www.bigcontact.com/idealisticsport

The Family Circle Cup in Charleston SC will pit world #1 Serena Williams against #18 Jelena Jankovic.

Here are Jelena’s cycles:

She’s going through a tough period of critical days, just being very lucky to make it to the final. Her secondary passion cycle  (physical/emotional synthesis) is strong and rising. She feels very motivated to win, even as she makes some errors.

And here are Serena’s cycles:

Decent cycles at best for Serena.  She comes in fairly weak and with little sense of mastery. She won’t make a lot of mistakes, but she will find her efforts rather lacking. She’ll have to rely on heart for this one.

Jankovic in straight sets for the title.

Meanwhile in the head-to-head (thanks to http://www.matchstat.com):
It’s their 3rd meeting in a final. Serena has a 5-4 match edge. In their one meeting on clay, Jelena won in 3 sets.
Serena’s best trends in their matchup are winning with a better 1st and 2nd serve pt rate.
For Jelena, she routinely gets her 1st serves in, and has often been better in break point conversion

Meanwhile, south of the 48 at the Monterrey Open, there is world #6 Angelique Kerber vs #26 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Here are Angelique’s cycles:

Just one precious day before a double critical day, her cycles are rather average but on the positive side. Her brainpower is strong and getting even better. She will not make many errors today. The issue is in her delivery which has weakened considerably.  I feel she will exude enough patience to do well.
As for Anastasia:

About as bad as one could be for a tennis final with triple-low cycles.

Kerber in straight sets for the title.

Head to head: They have met just once prior, earlier in January during the Brisbane International quarterfinal round.  Anastasia prevailed 7-6 (3) in both sets. Stats reveal that Angelique only ranked higher in 1st serve % and 2nd serve points %.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup moves to Martinsville Speedway this week. Here are the key stats:
martinsville

Jimmie Johnson has a 7-for-22 win record here. Terry Labonte, meanwhile is 0-for-53
Jimmie finishes 68% of the time in the top 10. Dave Blaney is 0-for-24.

Ken Schrader and Terry Labonte have both turned nearly 24000 laps without a win here.

Dale Jr has led 868 laps on this track without a win.
Top 6 in average finish: Jimmie, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin (injured and out), Brad Keselowski, Dale Jr, and Mark Martin.  Biggest gain between average start and finish is 7.6 by Keselowski, tho he has run just 6 races, 3 in the top 10.

Jeff Gordon is a perfect 40-for-40 in running at the finish
Jimmie Johnson has finished 21 of 22 races on the lead lap.

Now for the top 10, adjusted for starting grid info:
1 Jimmie
2 Keselowski
3 Brian Vickers
4 Matt Kenseth
5 Joey Logano
6 Marcos Ambrose
7 Jeff Gordon
8 Kasey Kahne
9 Carl Edwards
10 Juan Pablo Montoya

Thanks to www.racing-reference.info for the inspiration and stats

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Back a bit later with some NCAA wrapup and a window into Monday’s epic finale

NASCAR Subway Fresh Fit 500 analysis

The SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 is up next at Phoenix International. Here’s a look at the stats (provided by http://www.racing-reference.info a site should get to know):

15 winners in the Sprint Cup series at Phoenix are running. Jimmie Johnson leads with 4 out of 19 races. Bobby Labonte has 28 races without a win here, and Joe Nemechek is 0-for-28.   Jimmie is 15 for 19 running in the top 10, Mark Martin 21 for 32, Gordon 19 for 28.  Labonte’s 8436 laps here without a win is notable. Casey Mears, one of the more laudauble drivers in this series (per a previous post) has 4781 laps without leading a lap here.  Further this would seem to be Jimmie’s track, with an average finish of 6.7. Martin is 2nd with 9.1, and Denny Hamlin 3rd with 10.3.  Jimmie and Hamlin have finished all but 2 here after the lead lap. 
Adjusting for average start/finish per driver, here’s my top 10:

1 Jimmie Johnson
2 Mark Martin
3 Kevin Harvick
4 Kyle Busch
5 Tony Stewart
6 Jeff Gordon
7 Denny Hamlin
8 Matt Kenseth
9 Kasey Kahne
10 Jeff Burton

Got KY Oaks future wager analysis a bit later!