“Lies, damn lies and statistics” is a phrase often attributed to Mark Twain, although the phrase tends to crop up in conversations about analytics in baseball, a niche that barely existed until Bill James began writing his annual baseball abstract in 1977.
The Boston Red Sox took a bold step by giving James an office in 2002, and he retired 17 years later with four World Series rings. Now the baseball team’s motorsport cousin has struck again by hiring the auto racing version of James as Brad Keselowski continues to upgrade Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.
Brad Keselowski makes things happen at the former Roush Fenway Racing
Brad Keselowski has started as the new driver and co-owner of the former Roush Fenway Racing. The NASCAR Cup Series outfit is now Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, and the former Team Penske star has taken steps as part of a business plan that will see him gradually replace Jack Roush as the operations czar, while John Henry and Tom Werner take over the P&L handling ledger.
Keselowski, 37, recruited Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch crew chief Matt McCall before the 2021 season even ended and believed to have had a hand in rebuilding main sponsors Castrol, Fastenal and Kohler Generators for RFK Racing. And, of course, he was hands-on in the garage as the team assembled its fleet of Next Gen cars that debut on Feb. 6 at the Busch Light Clash.
The bar for Year 1 is low; Chris Buescher finished 19e and Ryan Newman 28e in Cup Series points last season. Keselowski, who has finished in the top eight in nine of the past 11 seasons, will take over Newman’s car next season and stand a good chance of another playoff appearance.
RFK Racing has hired analysis expert David Smith
Just as Bill James took baseball player evaluation well beyond batting averages and earned run averages, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing joins the trend of pushing race stats beyond laps led and average finishes.
RFK Racing has announced it has hired David Smith, a respected track number whose Motorsports Analytics website uses advanced data studies to evaluate drivers, teams and trends in NASCAR. Smith’s relationship with Keselowski goes back to his work as a consultant when his new boss took the 2012 Cup Series crown.
“I’m excited to bring David into the team,” Keselowski said in the team announcement. “He brings credibility to analytics and data, and he will be critical to our team’s success as we embrace new technologies and processes in 2022 and beyond.”
Smith’s resume also includes work over the past few seasons with drivers Erik Jones, William Byron and Daniel Hemric.
“RFK Racing’s belief in the power of statistical analysis is inspiring,” said Smith. “My goal is to ensure faith is rewarded with the long-term results and accolades envisioned by RFK’s staff, sponsor partners and fans.”
Bill James was there when the Red Sox ended the ‘Curse of the Bambino’
The addition of veteran race analyst David Smith to Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing is an aggressive move as the NASCAR Cup Series team appears to rise from the center of the pack of multi-car teams. Anything he digs up that shaves a quarter of a second off a four-tire pit stop or does to guide the RFK Racing teams about which race forest to follow in Charlotte or Phoenix based on tire wear and fuel status could lead to improvements in fuel efficiency. rankings .
If RFK Racing thrives in a way that comes close to the way the Boston Red Sox did after the arrival of Bill James, then Smith will be worth whatever the team pays him.
John Henry, co-owner of RFK Racing, also owns the Red Sox and several other sports entities, including the Liverpool football team in the English Premier League. The baseball team endured an 86-season drought between World Series titles before breaking the so-called “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004.
James, the best-known baseball analysis expert, retired from that championship ring in 2019 and three more after consecutive titles in 2007, ’13 and ’18.
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