What Big Jamie Little Said

Posted by Iannucci | 7/25/2006 | 0 comments »
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First off, it’s off topic but I need to mention that Big Jaime Little looks to be about a foot and a half taller than Danica!, so why they still have “the girl reporter” interviewing “the girl driver” is beyond me. I want to see The Root (thanks, pressdog) throw his mad stats at Danica! and have her give him a “whaaaateverrrr” look and say “Root, your skin looks like leather – have you seen a dermatologist lately?”

Just keep BJL for interviews with Well Done. There's tangible sexual tension there, and it adds more to the broadcast than any other canned interview. Especially if Well Done is wearing those wacky white welding glasses. Get Jamie a pair and see what happens.

OK, as Big Jamie Little pointed out during the broadcast in Milwaukee this week, Danica! leads the IRL in most positions gained. In other words, you could make a statistical argument that Mrs. Hospenthal is either the best driver or the worst qualifier. You would probably be wrong on both parts, but that’s what statistics are for – allowing you to make up stuff with supporting information.

As you may recall, I love statistical analysis. So I decided to follow BJL’s lead and run a little analysis on who actually has the best Positional Movement (PM) score for the 2006 season. Yes, I’m inventing that term myself. If you have a better term then please feel free to let me know.

The PM is calculated by subtracting a driver’s final position from his or her starting position. For example: say Danica! started in 15th place, but finished in 10th – she would have a +5 for that race. Say also Spiderman won the pole but finished in fourth – he would have a -3 for said race. Pretty simple.

Having nowhere to go but down, pole winners are likely to be poor performers in this category, so take it as just a tool. It’s not the be-all, end-all of statistical analysis, but it is useful to see how well drivers in the middle of the pack fare. For the record, here are the leaders in Average Positional Start, also know as Drivers Who Won’t Be On The Next List.

1. Helio Castroneves (2.4)
2. Sam Hornish Jr (2.6)
3. Scott Dixon (4.6)
4. Dan Wheldon (4.9)
5. Tony Kanaan (5.4)

No huge surprises there, but two things caught my attention here. First, The Kiwi has qualified better on average than Well Done, which I would not have suspected. Second, the #6 guy on the list is Vitor In the Mirror, but he’s way in the mirror at 8.8.

Alright, back to the subject at hand. Here are the total PM leaders for the 2006 season.

1. Danica Patrick (+44)
2. Eddie Cheever Jr (+20)
3. Buddy Lazier (+18)
4. Felipe Giaffone (+16)
5. Vitor Meira (+16)

This means Danica! has moved up 44 positions more than she lost. And remember, that’s only in 9 races since the RLR team skipped out on Homestead. I’m sure you noticed that three of the top five are no longer participating this season, meaning they were moving up but not that much. Still, it is interesting to note that Danica! is so far out in front of the nearest driver in this category.

And how about Vitor? He’s 6th in qualifying and 5th in movement, and that’s including his wreck this weekend. Makes you wonder how this guy never wins, since all he does is go fast and pass cars. (I know, he needs to go faster and pass more cars.)

Just for kicks, let’s weight the races by miles. This results in higher scores for longer tracks where more racing is done.

1. Danica Patrick (+10790)
2. Buddy Lazier (+6512)
3. Eddie Cheever Jr (+6256)
4. Jeff Simmons (+3677)
5. Ed Carpenter (+3227)

Look, my new friend Jeff Not Gene shows up, as well as ECG. Still, two drivers there without rides, so I’m not sure how significant this end up being. Judging from the group in this category, Danica! is simply looking like the tallest midget (no pun on her height intended).

I’m sure Old Man Cheever would disagree with my characterization, since he won an Indy 500.

In the end, it’s pretty clear Danica! is doing a good job of moving her through the pack while avoiding accidents that drop a driver way down in this type of scoring. Of course, if she was qualifying faster she might be higher in the points standings and lower on this PM list.

And if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his rear a-hoppin’. Back to you, Jamie.