Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ALRL: the Adjusted Laps Raced and Led Rankings

After thinking about it a little longer, I realized that I want to make a tweak to the LRL ratings. I want to give proper credit for somebody who leads laps even if they don't finish the entire race. Right now the current LRL ratings punish somebody twice for not finishing the race.

Look at examples in the below table. If somebody leads the first 50 laps and then crashes out, I think a +10% rating is more appropriate than a -80% rating, which you could get just by racing the first 100 laps in last place and quitting the race. Consider some other scenarios as well in the table below, and see that the ALRL is a more appropriate ranking to highlight top driver performances.

Raced Led Total LRL ALRL
50 50 500 -80% 10%
75 25 500 -80% -52%
100 0 500 -80% -80%





350 100 500 -10% -1%
400 50 500 -10% -8%
450 0 500 -10% -10%


Truthfully, over the course of the season, it all evens up. Considering all the drivers that ran 36 races in 2006-2008, the average difference between LRL and ALRL was only .11%, a number that is consistent each of those three seasons. So in aggregate, there won't be much difference here, but theoretically the LRL sounds more appropriate to me.

We'll also look at all drivers from 2006-2008 to see their ALRL rankings:

2008
Driver ALRL
Jimmie Johnson 17.6%
Kyle Busch 12.4%
Carl Edwards 10.9%
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 7.1%
Tony Stewart 2.5%
Matt Kenseth 2.1%
Denny Hamlin 2.1%
Greg Biffle 1.9%
Clint Bowyer 1.1%
Jeff Gordon 0.1%
Kevin Harvick 0.0%
David Ragan -0.4%
Bobby Labonte -1.0%
David Reutimann -1.6%
Travis Kvapil -1.8%
Jeff Burton -1.8%
Jamie McMurray -1.9%
Kurt Busch -2.6%
Kasey Kahne -2.8%
Paul Menard -2.9%
Michael Waltrip -3.5%
Juan Pablo Montoya -3.7%
Brian Vickers -4.1%
Ryan Newman -4.4%
Martin Truex, Jr. -4.9%
David Gilliland -5.7%
Casey Mears -6.5%
Elliott Sadler -7.8%
Robby Gordon -7.8%


2007
Driver ALRL
Jimmie Johnson 10.0%
Jeff Gordon 9.5%
Tony Stewart 7.3%
Matt Kenseth 6.3%
Kurt Busch 5.8%
Denny Hamlin 4.6%
Kyle Busch 3.3%
Clint Bowyer 2.3%
Kevin Harvick 1.6%
Martin Truex, Jr. 1.5%
Carl Edwards -0.6%
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -1.0%
Kasey Kahne -1.7%
Jeff Burton -3.4%
Casey Mears -3.6%
Ryan Newman -3.8%
Elliott Sadler -3.9%
Jamie McMurray -4.0%
Bobby Labonte -4.3%
Juan Pablo Montoya -4.4%
Greg Biffle -5.0%
David Stremme -6.5%
David Ragan -6.9%
J.J. Yeley -7.4%
David Gilliland -10.2%
Reed Sorenson -13.4%


2006
Driver ALRL
Matt Kenseth 10.1%
Tony Stewart 7.9%
Kevin Harvick 7.5%
Jimmie Johnson 7.3%
Jeff Gordon 4.2%
Greg Biffle 2.5%
Kasey Kahne 1.6%
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 1.5%
Denny Hamlin 1.3%
Mark Martin 0.9%
Jeff Burton 0.4%
Kyle Busch -0.4%
Carl Edwards -1.1%
Dave Blaney -1.6%
Joe Nemechek -2.0%
Clint Bowyer -2.3%
Casey Mears -2.5%
Kurt Busch -4.1%
Brian Vickers -4.6%
Kyle Petty -4.7%
Ryan Newman -4.7%
Jeff Green -4.9%
J.J. Yeley -4.9%
Martin Truex, Jr. -5.2%
Jamie McMurray -5.9%
Bobby Labonte -6.0%
Sterling Marlin -6.5%
Reed Sorenson -6.6%
Elliott Sadler -7.5%
Dale Jarrett -7.5%
Robby Gordon -13.6%
Ken Schrader -13.7%

Monday, December 15, 2008

Introducing LRL Scores: Laps Raced and Led

Introducing a new metric, the "Laps Raced and Led" scores, hereby known as "LRL".

This score is a percentage number showing (Raced Laps + Led Laps - Total Laps) / Total Laps.

As an example, over Jeff Gordon's career, his LRL score is 6.5%

His distribution of LRLs over each race looks like this:


So his best races will be earn individual race LRLs above 90% and his worst races will be below 90%. the vast majority of races are between -20% and +20%. If you complete all 500 laps in a race but lead no laps, then you get a score of (500+0-500)/500 = 0. If you lead every single lap of a race, you get 100% score. If you complete 0 laps then you get a score of -100%.

So notice that in any given season, only the very best drivers will positive LRLs, as the vast majority of drivers end up in negative. Let's take a look at the last two years of top performers. This is a much better indicator of performance strength over the course of the year. Notice that the champion the last two years is the best LRL performer.


The 2008 Top 10 LRL rankings:

17% Jimmie Johnson
12% Kyle Busch
11% Carl Edwards
7% Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2% Tony Stewart
2% Matt Kenseth
2% Denny Hamlin
2% Greg Biffle
1% Clint Bowyer
0% Jeff Gordon

the 2007 Top 10 LRL rankings:

10% Jimmie Johnson
9% Jeff Gordon
7% Tony Stewart
6% Matt Kenseth
6% Kurt Busch
4% Denny Hamlin
3% Kyle Busch
2% Clint Bowyer
2% Kevin Harvick
1% Martin Truex, Jr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Explorations with SAL

Going back from 1992 through 2008, I wanted to compare Kyle Busch's awesome 2008 SAL rating with what other greats from the past have done.

Here below are all drivers (minimum 4 races) in each season who earned SAL ratings above 100. The champion of that season is in bold.

Funny that in three of four seasons from 2000-2003 the champion doesn't appear on this list. Does this show us quantitatively what Nascar was upset with in their boring seasons, a lack of an aggressively speedy champion...which is why they introduced the Chase format in 2004?

Also note that the 193 score Kyle Busch got this year is pretty good, but not near some of the amazing seasons that Rusty Wallace had back in the early 90s. Notice that Rusty finished at the top of the list four times in a five year period.

Jeff Burton finished #1 on this list three years in a row.

In fact, Jimmie Johnson has only been tops on the lists once, which is more appropriate when you watch a ton of races. He's almost never the fastest driver out there.

Year
Driver SAL



1992 Davey Allison 170
1992 Alan Kulwicki 146
1992 Kyle Petty 141
1992 Bill Elliott 135



1993 Rusty Wallace 353
1993 Dale Earnhardt 146
1993 Mark Martin 127
1993 Ernie Irvan 105



1994 Rusty Wallace 254
1994 Geoffrey Bodine 231
1994 Ernie Irvan 219
1994 Dale Earnhardt 162



1995 Dale Earnhardt 226
1995 Rusty Wallace 156
1995 Jeff Gordon 139



1996 Rusty Wallace 189
1996 Jeff Gordon 162
1996 Bobby Hamilton 141
1996 Terry Labonte 109



1997 Rusty Wallace 168
1997 Jeff Gordon 167
1997 Dale Jarrett 154
1997 Jeff Burton 153
1997 Bobby Hamilton 100



1998 Jeff Burton 187
1998 Mark Martin 157
1998 Jeff Gordon 122
1998 Bobby Hamilton 120



1999 Jeff Burton 198
1999 Tony Stewart 156
1999 Dale Jarrett 141
1999 Rusty Wallace 121
1999 Bobby Labonte 114
1999 Jeff Gordon 104



2000 Jeff Burton 223
2000 Tony Stewart 217
2000 Jeremy Mayfield 186
2000 Rusty Wallace 174



2001 Jeff Gordon 207
2001 Steve Park 170
2001 Rusty Wallace 164
2001 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 124



2002 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 132
2002 Kurt Busch 128
2002 Jeff Gordon 122
2002 Matt Kenseth 122
2002 Sterling Marlin 118
2002 Jimmie Johnson 116



2003 Jeff Gordon 135
2003 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 124
2003 Tony Stewart 120
2003 Kurt Busch 116



2004 Jimmie Johnson 137
2004 Tony Stewart 130
2004 Jeff Gordon 117
2004 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 117
2004 Kurt Busch 110
2004 Matt Kenseth 101
2004 Kasey Kahne 100



2005 Tony Stewart 207
2005 Matt Kenseth 167
2005 Greg Biffle 166
2005 Kurt Busch 140



2006 Tony Stewart 226
2006 Matt Kenseth 156
2006 Greg Biffle 145
2006 Kevin Harvick 114



2007 Matt Kenseth 176
2007 Tony Stewart 167
2007 Jeff Gordon 143
2007 Jimmie Johnson 122
2007 Kurt Busch 118
2007 Denny Hamlin 111



2008 Kyle Busch 193
2008 Jimmie Johnson 156
2008 Carl Edwards 149
2008 Denny Hamlin 116
2008 Tony Stewart 105

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Introducing SAL ratings: Kyle Busch is the best

Who are the top speed demons on the track?

I am introducing Start-Adjust Leader Ratings,

Consider the following formula:

(Laps Led / Laps Raced) * Avg Start

displayed as a percentage. So leading a lap is worth more if you have to start further back. Nothing special in leading a lap after you already won the pole, especially if that pole was given to you because of a qualifying rainout.

That being said, consider all drivers with 10 more starts this year. Apply that formula and find these ratings.

I think these are appropriate. Clearly Kyle Busch this season was far and way the *fastest* driver on the race track when he was on the track. Notice some interesting points:

1) Brian Vickers, who was a real up-and-comer this year, often with a car to win.

2) The Gibbs cars of Hamlin and Stewart, they are 4th and 5th here, because they had great cars in many races, and were often factors to deal with, despite the high incidence of events out of their control which brought their overall season standings much lower.

3) Aric Almirola, who ran a part-time schedule but is ahead of many drivers on this ranking. SAL ratings suggest we look out for big things from him next year.

193 Kyle Busch
156 Jimmie Johnson
149 Carl Edwards
116 Denny Hamlin
105 Tony Stewart
97 Matt Kenseth
87 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
61 Greg Biffle
50 Brian Vickers
47 Jeff Gordon
37 Clint Bowyer
33 Jamie McMurray
33 Kurt Busch
32 Aric Almirola
32 Kevin Harvick
29 Kasey Kahne
28 Jeff Burton
28 David Reutimann
20 Mark Martin
19 Casey Mears
11 Ryan Newman
10 Martin Truex, Jr.
7 Paul Menard
6 Michael Waltrip
4 David Ragan
4 Patrick Carpentier
4 Scott Riggs
4 Elliott Sadler
4 Travis Kvapil
3 Reed Sorenson
3 A.J. Allmendinger
3 Juan Pablo Montoya
2 Dave Blaney
2 Michael McDowell
1 Robby Gordon
1 Dario Franchitti
1 Bobby Labonte
1 David Gilliland
1 Joe Nemechek
1 J.J. Yeley
1 Sam Hornish, Jr.
1 Ken Schrader

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rookie of the Year: Predicting their second year performance

If 2008 Rookie of the Year Regan Smith is even lucky enough to find a ride for next year, he doesn't have a great fate to look forward to.

Check out the results in points standings for these top rookies. Other than Dale Earnhardt's championship in his second season, these guys have not had much success.

A couple of them practically disappeared off the circuit altogether. Perhaps that is Regan Smith's fate...

Stats
10.3 stdev
18.4 mean
17.5 median
48 max
1 min

Counts
1 Champion
1 2-5
6 6-10
13 11-20
7 21-30
8 rest



(Note the number of wins a Rookie had is in Parentheses)

Year Rookie of the Year Next Year
2008 Regan Smith ?
2007 Juan Pablo Montoya (1) 25
2006 Denny Hamlin (2) 12
2005 Kyle Busch (2) 10
2004 Kasey Kahne 23
2003 Jamie McMurray 11
2002 Ryan Newman (1) 6
2001 Kevin Harvick (2) 21
2000 Matt Kenseth (1) 13
1999 Tony Stewart (3) 6
1998 Kenny Irwin 19
1997 Mike Skinner 21
1996 Johnny Benson 11
1995 Ricky Craven 20
1994 Jeff Burton 32
1993 Jeff Gordon 8
1992 Jimmy Hensley 32
1991 Bobby Hamilton 25
1990 Rob Moroso n/a
1989 Dick Trickle 22
1988 Ken Bouchard 48
1987 Davey Allison (2) 8
1986 Alan Kulwicki 15
1985 Ken Schrader 16
1984 Rusty Wallace 19
1983 Sterling Marlin 37
1982 Geoffrey Bodine 17
1981 Ron Bouchard (1) 8
1980 Jody Ridley (1) 5
1979 Dale Earnhardt (1) 1
1978 Ronnie Thomas 17
1977 Ricky Rudd 31
1976 Skip Manning 14
1975 Bruce Hill 23
1974 Earl Ross (1) n/a
1973 Lennie Pond 18
1972 Larry Smith 33

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You can't predict a champions performance next year

How is Jimmie Johnson going to finish next year? If long-term history is correct, he'll finish 4th in the standings.

Look at the table below. It lists the champions in the modern era, along with their ranking the year before, and the year after. Just because somebody wins a title, does not tell you much about their future success. In fact, the champions usually perform better the year BEFORE their title (3.0 finish) than after (4.0 finish).

The relationship between ranking in year (P)rior to championship and year (A)fter championship is

A = 4.0 + 0.04 * P

So an average of fourth place finish for all defending champions, without any regards to how they finished the year before the title.

Does winning the title suggest that they can ease on the pressure the next year? But then would there be a much higher slope involved for P? Are champions just random?

These guys are all consistent performers though. Only 3 champions were out of the top 10 the year before, and only 2 champions finished outside the top 10 in their year of defense. Consistency reigns supreme, but the actual winner is more up to chance.

Sorry Dale, Jr. fans - that means you can pretty much forget about any title next year. Try to focus on a Top 10 instead.




Previous Finish
Next Finish
1 Jimmie Johnson ?
1 Jimmie Johnson 1
5 Jimmie Johnson 1
6 Tony Stewart 11
11 Kurt Busch 10
8 Matt Kenseth 8
2 Tony Stewart 7
6 Jeff Gordon 4
2 Bobby Labonte 6
3 Dale Jarrett 4
1 Jeff Gordon 6
2 Jeff Gordon 1
6 Terry Labonte 6
8 Jeff Gordon 2
1 Dale Earnhardt 2
12 Dale Earnhardt 1
13 Alan Kulwicki died
1 Dale Earnhardt 12
2 Dale Earnhardt 1
2 Rusty Wallace 6
2 Bill Elliott 6
1 Dale Earnhardt 3
8 Dale Earnhardt 1
5 Darrell Waltrip 2
5 Terry Labonte 7
2 Bobby Allison 6
1 Darrell Waltrip 2
5 Darrell Waltrip 1
7 Dale Earnhardt 7
6 Richard Petty 4
1 Cale Yarborough 4
1 Cale Yarborough 1
9 Cale Yarborough 1
1 Richard Petty 2
5 Richard Petty 1
5 Benny Parsons 5
1 Richard Petty 5
4.3 median 4.2
3.0 mean 4.0
3.4 stdev 3.1