If you are like me who was still left with questions yesterday on how Will Power eventually ended up winning the 2022 IndyCar Championship, then I have some answers for you. Why is that even a question, you might ask, after all Will Power did drive superbly over the season. He did indeed, but with only 1 win out of 17 races, it rather looks quite odd, and especially that the most number of race wins is Josef Newgarden (5), and there are drivers with more wins than him (Scotty Mac, Dixon, O’Ward). But then IndyCar is more than just winning the races. And that’s what Will Power proved just yesterday. In the end the difference between #1 (Will Power), and #2 (Josef Newgarden) was a mere 16 points.
First reason of course is that how can you go wrong with a name that is “Will Power”. Kidding though, being a data guy, I wanted to dig into some numbers. Here’s what I found from data collected via IndyCar’s website:
- While Newgarden won 5 out of 17 IndyCar races, he was in top 5, for only 8 out of 17 races (47%). On the other hand, Will was in top 5 for 12 out of 17 (71%) of races. That’s a major differences of 4 occurrences. At rank #5 you get at least 30 points (60 if Indy 500). Also, look at the tail end of the histograms below. Newgarden seemed to have lowest lows (2 occurrences inside 21-25 range), and Will never had anything beyond 17-21. In other words, Joseph also lost out due to scoring among bottom ranks on at least 2 occasions (which were ranks 24 and 25, at Race#5 GMR Indy, and Race#12 Hy-Vee Iowa 300 where he had a contact). Will just continued to ensure he could stay most of the time in top 10, while Newgarden’s focus was more winning each race it seems like
- Ranks are ranks, but let’s look at the points. Both drivers didn’t do well in Indy 500, the prized race where points double. Therefore, none of the drivers ended up having any advantage over one another due to just that 1 race. Take a look at the plot of how total points progressed between the two drivers, pretty close, eh? See where Joseph hit the low about Race#5 mark, Will continued steadily, and stayed within top 5 (rank #3). Then again, race #12, Newgarden had a contact and ranked 24 while Will was #2. It is still quite remarkable that Joseph kept fighting back, and closed the gaps on two occasions. However, at the end, it boiled down to mere < 20 points difference between the two. What an unfortunate thing for Newgarden!
So, how do the rest of the top 6 rank against each other, in the cumulative scores, take a look below.
- Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson seemed to have been the top contender right after that race (#5), and he stayed at the top for quite a while until Will finally caught up. The reality is that Marcus made it to top 5 only 29% of the times (5 races), while all the others were in top 5 at least 35% of the times (exclude Palou, and you’ve that stat increase to 47%). My personal view is the Marcus didn’t really perform that well, and if it wasn’t the Indy 500, he would’ve not been anywhere close to top 5 at the end of the season (which he actually got knocked by Scotty Mac and Palou)
- Alex Palou scored within top 10 for 76% of the times, but only 35% of the times within top 5. I think Palou could’ve converted some of those ranks 5 to 9, to within top 5, and then it would’ve been a tight competition. Where Palou lost heavily, Will shined, which is why you see the gap opening wide between the two. He won only 1 of the races, the final one, which is also a bit of oddity considering he is the 2021 championship winner. Nevertheless, that one put him back in top 5. I really believe he would be someone to watch for next year, as he is sure to come back with force
- Speaking of someone who consistently ranked in top 10, Scott Dixon, did so 88% of the times, while only 53% of the times in top 5, which is still more than Newgarden. Dixon’s BIG loss was Indy 500. If and only if he had been in top 5 in that race, he would have been easily the winner of 2022. He ended up ranking #21, and had an unfortunate pit lane penalty. This after leading the Indy 500 race for 90+ laps. Dixon is my favorite, and I still believe he has the mileage to go longer in this sport. I would still be rooting for him next year, and hopefully he can break further records
- Last but the not the least, Scotty Mac (Scott McLaughlin). This was a good year for McLaughlin, but he still was being a good team player, and yet he won 3 races, just like that. McLaughlin was in top 5 47% of the times, and in top 10 71% of the times. Unfortunately, he suffered during races 5, 6, 7 including Indy 500. Had he been consistent (top 10) in those races, you’d have seen many more points under him, and who knows could’ve been a contender for top 3. I believe McLaughlin has a great potential, and someone who would do great next year. This is Scotty’s 2nd year in the race, and yet it doesn’t look like it. With the performance he gave this year, the next IndyCar year is definitely going to be amazing for him
Finally, Team Penske won big time, with 3 drivers in top 5.
In conclusion, data shows why Will Power ended up as #1 at the end of 2022 season. Of course, if you ask Will, he would say there’s one and only one reason: his lovely wife. As he humbly said during the award ceremony, that he trusted his wife, when she said, “Will, you can make it”. No wonder, behind every successful man, there’s usually a loving woman.
PS: I posted this under Leadership, which actually is intentional. Whether you’re leading people, or leading yourself, 2022 IndyCar Championship tells you how important it is to be consistent, and continue progressing towards your big vision. What you’re chasing after is a long game, give it hard work, patience and time. You will reap immense benefits.
I’m attaching my Excel workbook, if someone is interested.