Sunday, January 10, 2010

Comparing Points vs Watermills in 2009 Chase

As we've discussed before, the simplicity of the Watermill Score is that it can summarize the entire NASCAR points system with just 4 basic inputs:
  • Wins
  • Top 10s
  • Lead Lap Finishes
  • Races at the Finish
Just a simple count of each of these gives you the Watermill Score, and it is almost 100 percent correlated with the real points system.

We've seen it work over the course of an entire season, but what happens if we just look at it during the 10-race Chase, where championships are now decided.

Consider this table, which is ranked by how many points each driver scored during the 10 Chase Races:

You will see the color-coded groupings, showing that each set of drivers with similar points also had similar Watermill scores. The relationship holds consistent from top to bottom.

Look at how tight the groups are:
  • The drivers with 26 watermills were within 35 points of each other
  • The drivers with 21-23 watermills were 65 points of each other
  • The drivers with 18-19 watermills were 67 points of each other
The bottom line here is that what holds up over 36 races also holds up in the end-of-season Chase. The Watermill score is a great predictor of points, and the simple breakdown allows teams to properly strategize during the race.

The grid also shows that if you could finish each race on the lead lap, that would earn you 20 watermills right there. Most of the title is decided just on consistency.

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