STARTING POSITIONS AND ORDER OF FINISH IN THE INDY 500

There usually are 33 cars in the Indianapolis 500 auto race. At the start, these cars are arranged in 11 rows, 3 per row. Starting positions are based on the cars’ demonstrated speeds during time trials, with the fastest cars put up front. You might think that the cars’ order of finish should approximate their starting positions. Think again! In 2012, only one-third of the cars had end-of-race ranks within 3 spots of their starting positions. Considering all 33 cars, the correlation between starting position and order of finish was a modest 0.40. Over the past 25 years, this correlation has an average (i.e., mean) value of only 0.30.

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