The NASCAR Sprint Cup 2015 season is rapidly approaching, and I’ve finally plugged back in. First up: evaluating how I performed in the NASCAR handicapping and fantasy game in the 2014 season.
1. Race Winners
In 2014, I picked seven winners out of the 30 non-plate and non-road course races. That’s a 23% 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, 2011, 2012 and 2013 picks, which gives me 145 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 145 races, I’ve picked 30 of 145 winners. That’s a 20.7% win rate, which works out to 3.8-1 odds for break-even betting.
2. Top 5 Percentage
Last year 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 five 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’ 2014 top-five pick rates ranged from 34%–39%. I tied for first place at 39% with Kyle Wiseman and the readers’ aggregate picks (yes, there is something to that pesky wisdom-of-crowds concept!).
Also, I nailed FRC’s Darkhorse picks last year, finishing in first place by a healthy margin. I’m probably most proud of this accomplishment because it requires consistently and accurately handicapping most of the field, not just the front runners and big names.
3. Standard Deviation
For each race last year, I ranked all 43 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 5th, but he actually finished 9th, so the difference (i.e., deviation) equaled 4.
I’ve also calculated the overall standard deviation (SD) for all my 2014 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: 11.13.
This number is 2.3% worse than my 2013 overall SD, which came in at 10.88. That’s small enough that I think I can chalk it up to simple variance.
4. Yahoo Fantasy NASCAR
Last year was hands-down my best year ever in the Yahoo game. I finished with 10,463 points, which placed me 39th overall (in the 99th percentile). I also finished first in the Friends of NHMS league (out of 541 competitors) and first in the DR’s FNP League (out of 48 competitors).
The secret? I simply had some decent luck for a change. In 2013, I averaged more than 1 catastrophe per race with my Yahoo starters (i.e., a crash, mechanical failure, pit road blunder), but in 2014 I regressed back to the mean, or maybe a little beyond.
That’s it for now. It’s time to start gearing up for Daytona!