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After Fontana
Final Driver Standings

Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
5 Simon Pagenaud 565
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 563
7 Tony Kanaan 544
8 Carlos Munoz 483
9 Marco Andretti 463
10 Sebastien Bourdais 461
11 Ryan Briscoe 461
12 James Hinchcliffe 456
13 Josef Newgarden 406
14 Charlie Kimball 402
15 Justin Wilson 395
16 Mikhail Aleshin 372
17 Jack Hawksworth 366
18 Takuma Sato 350
19 Graham Rahal 345
20 Carlos Huertas 314
21 Sebastian Saavedra 291
22 Ed Carpenter 262
23 Mike Conway 252
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch 80
26 J.R. Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
A Band-Aid for a Bullet Wound

by Brian Carroccio
Friday, March 21, 2014

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Takuma Sato celebrates his 2013 victory at Long Beach. This coming year, a Long Beach win award fewer championship points than a seventh place finish at Fontana, Indy, and Pocono.
Do you remember Takuma Sato’s impressive drive in 2012 MAVTV 500 at Fontana? Funny, neither do I.

However, Sato driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing started the race 21st. With a fast race car, some strong put work, and a little luck from attrition and such, ‘Taku’ was able to record a solid 7th place finish.

Why do I reference this non-descript, albeit professional drive by Sato, you might ask?

Well, with the newly-implemented points system for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, which I’m going to assume you have a working knowledge of, Sato’s very non-descript, albeit professional 7th place effort at Fontana in 2012, will award more points than his ballsy, throw-down-the-gauntlet breakthrough win last season in Long Beach, where he and A.J. Foyt Racing shocked the world with a performance for the ages victory (minus the bonus points he earned for leading the most laps).

Yes, at a time when both Formula 1 and NASCAR are under fire for implementing hokey, contrived championship formats; at a time when IndyCar could have differentiated itself as a pure, no frills, no gimmicks form of motorsport by keeping a points system that has served the series well for over a decade, what do they do? Make finishing 7th at Fontana and Pocono worth more than winning at Long Beach and St. Petersburg.

Now, I should be fair. I can understand the logic in making a 500-mile race worth more than a 200-miler. Granted, I would argue that such thinking is somewhat outdated in this era of relative engine reliability. I’d likewise contend that running 200 miles on a physical grueling track like Mid-Ohio in August and 500 miles at Pocono are different, yet equally worthy, skill sets. But those are different arguments for different days. The long and short of it is I could get on board with an argument for the 500 mile races being weighted fractionally more.

As for the decision to award a ludicrous amount of points for Indy 500 qualifying, the motivation is clear as day: because there will be no bumping, IndyCar and IMS are trying to provide some compelling reason to tune for qualifying on those precious network television precious company dates.

Also, with the double points at Fontana and Pocono, part of the motivation is clearly rooted in the fact oval tracks have fallen off the schedule in recent years. This, combined with the implementation of three street course doubleheaders in 2013, has resulted in an outcry for a greater premium placed on oval racing. Fair enough.

But wouldn’t the better course of action be to devote time and resources to creating new viable oval events? If I were someone crying out for more oval events (I’d ideally like to see a 50/50 balance, or thereabouts), the message here would be loud and clear: we really don’t see any possibility of adding viable oval races in the coming years.

Of course, the cheerleading sections in the I-465 media won’t see it that way. They’ll goo and gush about how the great Triple Crown tradition is back. They’ll note that the schedule has become too street race heavy, and this places a greater premium on oval racing in crowning an IndyCar champion (although such logic conveniently overlooks the fact it already is, as the champion every season since the IRL began has won at least one oval race). They’ll also talk about how IndyCar is becoming more fan-friendly, or somehow paying homage to its roots.

All that may be so. But if you look through the propaganda and the BS, this is simply a band-aid on a bullet wound; an indication that efforts aren’t being made to address the problems, just the symptoms of those problems. Yes, because we can’t create viable oval events, let’s just award more points to the few we have. Hey, it doesn’t cost us anything, and we don’t have to be creative in building a viable event.

Also, did anyone consider what message such a measure might send to loyal promoters in Long Beach and Toronto, who not only got left out of the network television slots, but now have their races marginalized within the overall championship?

Let the record show, that from the perspective of this one IndyCar columnist, the series did not improve its entertainment value, restore the luster of the Triple Crown, or provide any more compelling reasons to watch any event. Rather, they cheapened many of their longstanding events, and reinforced the notion they fail to understand the actual problems plaguing the sport in the process.

That, at the end of the day, is the biggest concern of all. 

Brian Carroccio is a columnist for AutoRacing1.com. He can be contacted at BrianC@AutoRacing1.com.

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