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NASCARPredict’s 2016 Results

fantasyracingcheatsheet2016finalnumbers screenshot

Last season my top five picks topped the expert panel on Fantasy Racing Cheatsheet.

With the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2016 season in the books, I’ve gone through all my final race rankings and DraftKings lineups from this year and evaluated how they performed compared with all the actual race results. Here are the results in five arenas:

1. Race Winners

In 2016, I picked four winners out of the 30 non-plate and non-road course races. That’s a 13% win rate, but keep in mind those 30 races don’t provide statistical significance because NASCAR Sprint Cup racing features so much variance.

To gain statistical significance, I increased the sample size by adding the data from my 2010–2015 picks, which gives me 205 non-plate/road-course races. (Sharp-eyed readers will notice five years of non-plate/road-course picks should equal 150 races, not 145; it’s 145 because I didn’t handicap two races in 2010 and three in 2011.)

The results: Over 205 races, I’ve picked 37 of 205 winners. That’s an 18% win rate, which works out to 4.6-1 odds for break-even betting.

2. Top 5 Percentage

Last season I again participated in Fantasy Racing Cheatsheet‘s (FRC) Experts Picks section. In this section, FRC lists the top five picks for each NASCAR race from four NASCAR handicapping and fantasy experts (including me), and the aggregate picks of its readers. It also lists how successful each expert was picking the top five drivers all season.

The experts’ 2016 top-five pick rates ranged from 38%–43%. I tied for first place at 43% with the readers’ aggregate picks (yes, there is something to that pesky wisdom-of-crowds concept!).

3. Standard Deviation
For each race last year, I ranked all 40 drivers; that is, I predicted where each driver would finish in each Sprint Cup race. I’ve since gone back and calculated the difference between each driver prediction with their actual race result. Example: At Homestead, I predicted Jimmie Johnson would finish 7th, but he actually won, so the difference (i.e., deviation) equaled 6.

I’ve also calculated the overall standard deviation (SD) for all my 2016 predictions. Calculating SD involves squaring each difference, adding all the results, calculating the mean and then calculating the square root of the mean. The result: 10.37.

That’s my best result since 2012.

4. Yahoo Fantasy NASCAR

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I stumbled to the finish line this year in the Yahoo game, finishing in the 97th percentile.

Last season I was so-so in the Yahoo game. I finished with 10,094 points, which placed me in the 97th percentile. I finished 9th out of 48 competitors in Kyle Wiseman’s league in Fantasy NASCAR Preview’s forum, and 7th out of 493 competitors in the /r/NASCAR league on Reddit. I actually was crushing it for the first 2/3 of the year, but my teams fell down during the Chase with several disastrous Sundays.

5. DraftKings Lineups
I started fooling around with DraftKings NASCAR in late 2015, and I began playing it in earnest last season. I actually won a big guaranteed prize pool (GPP) tourney late last season, which was exciting. Of course, I suffered some old fashioned beat downs on other weekends, too.

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I finally took down a DraftKings NASCAR GPP in November.

In all, I’ve played 298 total NASCAR lineups so far, with an average return-on-investment (ROI) of +9% (i.e., on average every $1 bet returned $1.09). I learned a lot across all those races, and I think both my lineups and my entry tactics have improved over time, particularly when I sat down last spring and made some big adjustments. And the numbers bear this out: From March 20 through the end of last season, I played 245 lineups with a +22% average ROI. Even better, those 245 lineups include a big downswing at the end of the season.

Bottom line: I anticipate a healthy ROI next season. And yes, I play lineups from the same list of top 30 lineups I post each week (though sometimes I’ll dip below the top 30 into somewhat weaker territory).

That’s it for now. It’s almost time to start crunching Daytona data!

The King on Danica: Is He Right?

Back in February, Richard Petty was famously quoted in USA Today as saying Danica Patrick could win in Sprint Cup racing “(Only) if everybody else stayed home.” I immediately wondered, “Is he right? Is there any chance Danica can win a Sprint Cup race?”

For starters, from a purely literal perspective, if she starts a race, she does have a non-zero chance of winning. For instance, all 42 of her competitors could break down simultaneously, as wildly improbable as that would be. So, does she literally have zero chance of winning? No.

But for practical purposes, can she win a Sprint Cup race this year? Below, I dig into the numbers to find out. Continue reading

Jeff Gordon’s Strong Second Half

When I put together this week’s early driver rankings for Homestead, part of the process included calculating the average Driver Ratings from all the loop data piled up over the past 15 races by every Sprint Cup driver. (I used the excellent stats wizard at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet to do this, and I excluded the data from the Talladega II and Watkins Glen races.) One thing jumped out at me: Jeff Gordon ranked #2 in this metric!

Here are the top 5: Continue reading

NASCARPredict’s 2012 Results

With the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2012 season in the books, I’ve gone through all my final race rankings and begun evaluating how I did this year compared with all the actual race results. The short answer: Pretty good, with some room for improvement.

Here are the three categories I’ve looked at first:

1. Race Winners
In 2012, I picked 9 winners out of the 36 races. I was right 25% of the time, so if I’d been betting each race, I would’ve needed 3-1 odds on each bet to break even for the year.

I think 36 races is too small a sample size to definitively conclude my handicapping method will pick winners 25% of the time, but it’s probably in the ballpark. I’ve begun looking back at my 2011 and 2010 picks, and that will give me 108 races, a much more substantial data sample size. Initial impression: I think my winner pick rate will end up somewhere from 20%–25%. Continue reading

Feedback on the Sprint Cup’s New Spoiler

The 18 heads out for a test run today at Charlotte.

The 18 heads out for a run during testing yesterday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sprint Cup teams wrapped up their testing of the new spoiler this afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and while just how significant an impact it will have remains unknown, the general consensus seems to be that it won’t be a big impact. I’ve seen several informative articles on the topic, and I’ll list some of the better ones below:

Johnson Not Worried About Spoiler,” by Jeff Owens at SceneDaily.com. Go to SceneDaily.com for a bunch more good stuff on the spoiler.

Gordon: Spoiler Not a Big Change,” by Mike Hembree at SpeedTV.com;

Drivers Take Spoiler for a Spin at Charlotte,” by David Newton at ESPN.com;

Spoiler Impact Unpredictable,” by Mike Hembree at SpeedTV.com;

Note: I found most of these articles via Nascapper.com’s NASCAR News forum.

It’s go time!

I’m gonna open the doors tonight and put up my first two posts, the race recap for Atlanta and an article recommendation. I’ll get the race preview for Bristol up within a couple days, and we’ll be off and running.

This is my first ever blog, and hopefully there won’t be too many hiccups. I look forward to any feedback and comments.