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
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.
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!