While everybody else has been talking about The Phantom of the Debris, my mind has been struggling with this question: Did Helio win this race at Texas on the back of pit stall number one, or just on good pit stops?
So I’ve done some very, very basic calculations. I’m happy to have some feedback disputing this, in fact, I’d love it (if anybody from the Indycar series or any of the teams is reading this, I know you have timing and scoring data and telemetry data that would be handy here!)
Take this data on the final pitstop:
On pit in, I’m going to assume that Helio is 1.3 car lengths behind Briscoe. That’s roughly what it looked like on the video. That’s 6.34 meters (20.8 feet). That distance at the posted pit lane speed limit, 60mph, is 0.236 seconds. Helio has to make up 0.236 seconds in the stop to beat Briscoe.
On pit out, the video shows Helio hitting the blend line about 0.65 seconds ahead of Briscoe. I worked this out by timing it off the video, which is dodgy, but I did it a few times, so you can deal with it in the absence of any hard data.
So that means Helio was a total of 0.88 seconds faster than Briscoe.
There are now, three variables remaining. Deceleration, the actual pit stop, and acceleration.
Let’s look at the pit stop. Now, I agree, this is manual timing, so there’s a margin of error here, but I did it a few times, and this is what I got.
Time Stopped: Castroneves 6.0 seconds, Briscoe 6.8 seconds.
If you get the total difference of 0.88 seconds, and remove the stop time difference, 0.8 seconds, the net result is that you get 0.08 seconds. plus or minus whatever my error is, as the difference in the deceleration and acceleration.
Let’s assume for a second that I’m on the money with the timings.
0.08 seconds is just short of half a car length, and it’s clear Helio won by a bit more than that at the blend line.
So, my conclusion is I think it’s pretty safe to say that Helio’s crew jumped Briscoe’s crew in the last stop on merit, and not because of an inherited advantage of the number one pit box.
The question of advantage of the number one pit box in general, however, is not something where a conclusion can be drawn based on this data alone.
However, I know people out there have this data (both telemetry wise and timing and scoring wise)…
I still think given the calculations, it’s time to consider doing a random draw of pit boxes. If only because it stops the debate about the issue, rather than allowing a discussion to fester.
After all, as the IRL have learned this week about the debris, discussions festering isn’t a good thing.