2017 PEER Forecasts, Part 2

Jimmie Johnson

Last year’s PEER forecasts rang the bell for Jimmie Johnson, calling for the most productive year by any driver in the NASCAR Cup Series:

Yes, we’re witnessing the beginning of the end for Johnson, who turned 40 last September, but he’s pretty much always going to be better than an average driver his age … In this case, his forecast is good enough that he should be able to contend for a seventh Cup Series championship so much as Chad Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports are still in the go-fast business. Despite his relative obscurity in the playoff picture last year, Johnson still ranked, among series regulars, third in PEER, third in adjusted pass efficiency and third in surplus passing value. His career seems poised to end gracefully and, if this forecast comes to fruition, with at least one more serious bid for a crystal trophy.

Johnson won the most races in Cup last year on the way to a record-tying seventh championship, but his production wasn’t nearly as good as projected. He turned in the second-least productive season of his storied career, ranked as the 10th best in the series. This was unexpected, only because we had never seen him in a position of such vulnerability, but a successful playoff performance overshadowed a bleak regular season. He still had game; however, for the first time, we noticed a few rips and tears in Superman’s cape. Time is an inevitable, undefeated super villain.

The Production in Equal Equipment Rating is constructed to view the race within a race, a driver’s individual race against time amid the racing action from year to year against other drivers. A single-season PEER is a time-stamped photograph of a driver’s career at a certain juncture, and it just so happens that there are 40 or more photographs taken at the same time, but at different points in a career, ready for immediate comparison.

This is the second half of my 2017 PEER forecasts, projections of what these “photographs” should look like this year. They are the result of linear regression analyses using historic driver data and an individual driver’s past seasons … Read More

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