Wednesday, January 24, 2018

If you watched the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, you're familiar with the concept of analysis of a sport leading to wins, by pure math. Did you know that Nascar filed a cease and desist on the company that was doing this analysis? They were that good

Whether NASCAR was frightened to face the reality of waning interest in their sport, or they merely didn’t want their television ratings to become public knowledge, NASCAR sicced its lawyers on a person without the money to make a legal defense.

Andrew Maness was publishing the television ratings with statistics from Nielsen on Nascar, which peaked from 2001 to 2006, and then slumped to 90's rating since.

The NASCARnomics blog placed a spotlight on an underappreciated part of motorsports, offering empirical evidence to explain more easily how races were won and lost each weekend. It also devoted equal thoroughness in addressing NASCAR’s attendance and television ratings decline. That drew NASCAR’s ire, leading to a cease-and-desist order that eventually shut down the blog of Andrew Maness.

Maness incorporated real-time data from every possible outlet, including timing and scoring, loop data and previous race trends. The program then spit out the pit decisions most likely to provide and maintain track position — options like pit-in lap, two tires or four tires.

“We’ve Moneyballed NASCAR,” former NASCAR crew chief Josh Browne said. He cofounded Rho AI in 2012, with Maness, and General Motors provided the project’s initial funding.

From there, it was literally off to the races with Richard Childress Racing. The team scored two wins this season on strategy calls,  thanks in large part to motorsports sabermetrics.

Ryan Newman won Phoenix on a tire gambit while Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 on fuel mileage.

And Nascar spent more time and attention on shutting down a website illustrating its challenges than addressing the very real problems that NASCARnomics brought to light.

No comments:

Post a Comment