A Tale Of Two Championships

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The IZOD IndyCar Series dropped a mid-season surprise yesterday, when series officials announced that there would be two champions recognized at the end of each season – a road course champion and an oval champion, as well as an overall season champion. This change goes into effect this season.

The reaction I’ve read at various sites has been mixed. I’ve seen where some are praising the move; while some compare it to Tee-ball, where everyone gets a trophy in order to help everyone’s self-esteem. Being the traditionalist that I am, some might be surprised that I am in favor of this move.

What does it hurt? The points system remains the same, and it does not affect the overall championship picture; nor does it take away from the championship. Instead, it adds some intrigue to races within each discipline.

Based on what we saw in the first two races of the season, it looked as if Will Power might possibly run away with the championship – although things have tightened up in the last couple of races. Still, even if Power wins the overall championship based on his street/road course acumen – this new format gives those that are highly skilled on the ovals something to shoot for. And right now, we’re really not too sure as to how Power will perform on the ovals. It’s not likely, but conceivable that Power could leave Kansas out of the points lead this weekend. But I’ll reiterate – this plan has no effect on which driver will win the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, but there are some bonuses and prestige (especially for sponsors) in winning the title for one of the disciplines.

It’s entirely possible that the overall champion will not win the title in either discipline. If you applied this new format to previous seasons since road course racing was introduced in 2005 – Dan Wheldon would have won the oval championship in 2006, while Scott Dixon would have been the road course champion. But who won the overall title in 2006? Sam Hornish, Jr.

My question is – why does anyone have a problem with it? Does it dilute the overall championship? I don’t think so. Does it promote more interest among the fans? In most cases, yes. I know there are some purists out there who are probably turned off by it, but all they have to do is ignore it if they don’t like it. I’ve read some comments that the league should not do something like this in mid-season. Again, I’ll ask…why not? Would the teams have raced any differently had this been in place at the start of the season? No.

This isn’t a new or novel concept. It was brought up as an idea for the unification efforts between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League prior to the 2008 season. I can recall the suggestion coming up in the early nineties with CART, as fans of one discipline or the other wanted something for “their” side. So after almost twenty years of tossing this idea around, someone has finally decided to implement it.

Credit new CEO Randy Bernard for having the guts (or naivety) to put it into motion. This is what a fresh set of eyes does for the sport. Bernard received a lot of criticism when his hiring was first announced – from myself, included. He knew nothing about our sport, he had never been to a race before, and the all too obvious jokes flew about his coming over from Professional Bull Riders. But he has come in and quickly put his stamp on several key areas, while having the wherewithal to admit there are many aspects of this sport he knows nothing about. But he has shown his wisdom to defer to experts in those areas where his expertise is lacking.

Randy Bernard also seems intent on honoring the rich history and tradition of this sport, as well as being one of the first in league history to want to actually listen to what the fans have to say. The trophy for each discipline is to be named in honor of an iconic figure of the fans choosing. The league will take nominations from fans for each trophy, and then have fans vote online to choose between the top five names.

For the record; my choices for the road course trophy would be between Mark Donohue, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney or Bobby Rahal. My preference for the oval trophy would be AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears, Bill Vukovich or a combined effort of “The Unser’s”.

I don’t expect this to be the last tweaking that Randy Bernard may attempt. There is talk that he may re-instate a Triple Crown, like they had in the seventies – three 500 mile events that were run at Indianapolis, Pocono and the long-gone Ontario Motor Speedway, which was pretty much a clone of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I would support such a plan to maybe even include 400-milers at Michigan and Fontana – of course, they would have to be back on the schedule first. I also wouldn’t have a problem in assigning more points for two of the venues in the Triple Crown and even more points for the Indianapolis 500. It’s not just another race and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Most likely though, there will be a designated set of four or more races that will be considered “majors” or part of a “Grand Slam“ as was suggested by Tony Johns over at Pop Off Valve. This would make sense given yesterday’s announcement and the fact that there is a shortage of tracks currently on the schedule that would be suitable for running four or five hundred mile races for a Triple Crown. It would be easier to designate races like Indy, Long Beach and a couple of others, as the ones that teams would want to focus a little more attention on.

So long as Mr. Bernard doesn’t try to emulate NASCAR’s cheesy Chase for the Championship with an artificial ‘playoff” format – I’m probably going to be fine with whatever direction he decides to go. Let’s face it – the IZOD IndyCar Series has been fairly rudderless for years. With IZOD coming on board and Randy Bernard’s steady hand on the tiller, these new ideas from some fresh minds may be just what the series needs to pull it out of the doldrums in the eyes of the mainstream fans. And like it or not, the mainstream fans are what they need to survive. Let’s let the new faces give it a try without bucking them at every turn. It’s not like the old way of doing things was working all that well.

George Phillips

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48 Responses to “A Tale Of Two Championships”

  1. It’s okay, but I think you can forget about a Triple Crown now though–

    This roadrace is important because it’s second leg of the Triple Crown so it’s real important to Hunter-Reay who is already the important Indy 500 winner but it’s also important because Power could wrap up the Twisty Trophy today although Dario still has the overall lead. Next week is some non-Triple Crown unimportant race somewhere, but then the next one is not only the third race of Triple Crown but also the final Circle Trophy race. Even though there is one last oval which doesn’t count as circle or twisty, but is real important because of the OVERALL champion, unless Hunter-Reay wins the Triple Crown because that’s what’s really important.

  2. Scott Scheller Says:

    Not to sound trollish, but don’t you mean Nascars “Please watch us and not football” playoff system.

  3. George,
    When I first saw it, I thought it was a bit gimmicky, but I guess I am OK with it. It’s a lot less contrived than the NASCAR playoff format as you point out.

    I’ve been impressed by Bernard’s effort, and his ability to quickly understand the sport. In a Q & A yesterday he said:

    “I think there are two different demographics. I’d be willing to bet you that the oval demographic is more like a NASACR audience opposed to a street/road course demographic that is considerably different. How do we attract both of these, how do we bring them together and how do we create storylines that allow for a great ending to our season? ”

    I’d have to agree with him. Well, maybe I wouldn’t go so far as to say oval fans are like NASCAR fans. I do still have all my teeth ;-)

    It is refreshing to see the man in charge acknowledge this. We’ve known it for years, and it seems like nobody in the league was willing to mention it. There are two distinct traditions in American open wheel. Road racing in America dates back to the early 1900′s and the Vanderbilt Cup races on Long Island. Oval racing tradition is uniquely American too. I think that if the sport is going to grow beyond the split, it needs to acknowledge this. Perhaps the 2 trophy thing is the way to do that. I’m willing to give it a try.

  4. I think the two title thing is great. I just can’t agree with the multiple people that I read yesterday who say that this will clutter the landscape too much. What, you can’t track the top-5 in points for two different categories (only one of which will change on any given weekend), plus the overall? Aren’t baseball fans typically able to track standings in the National League and the American League? Aren’t football fans somewhat famous for being able to track not just standings but also rushing and passing yards, points and yardage allowed, team and individual stats, and on and on? Same for baseball, isn’t it? This change is making things like 20% more complicated (if even that). Is it that people think that race fans aren’t smart enough to be able to keep track of three different (but still related) points standings?

    Maybe seeing as how I run a fantasy league that tracks the minutae of five different series, I’m not the right guy to talk about this, though. OK, shutting my yap in 3…2…1…

    • I agree with you. In fact, in football, come playoff time, people can tell you not only their favorite teams record but their record in their division AND conference.

      • However the Indy “oval” champion will be crowned counting all tracks EXCEPT the Homestead one. Will this trophy come complete with an * :?: :?: This trophy is a glorified, pee-wee T-Ball version.

  5. I really like the idea.

    As for the majors, I think it should be four races, Indy, Long Beach, and Road America are all obvious. Long Beach is the biggest Street Race, Road America would likely be a very exciting road race. Indy, obvious. Now, the fourth track, and second oval, is a little more interesting. I can’t decide if a short, as in mile or less oval makes sense, or if MIS, Vegas, or Texas would be best. None of the 1 mile or less ovals are large enough to host a Major event. MIS would make sense from a historic perspective. But, Texas sells well, is usually exciting, and an SMI track, which means that don’t have the conflict of interest ISC has.

  6. I agree with the two new trophies as long as they aren’t considered full titles. There is one champion per year, the remaining awards (Indy 500 winner, road/street and oval specialists, etc) are small achievements.

    • Not sure that winning the Indy 500 could be considered a small achievement.

      I’d be willing to bet that if you polled the drivers, a majority of them would say they’d rather win at Indy than win the overall series championship.

      It’s kind of a big deal.

      • Exactly. It is all about the Indianapolis 500. I may not be able to tell you who the series champion is through the years but I can tell you who won Indy.

        • We agree the Indy 500 champion is important, but I’m sorry you also said you supported this new RC & Oval “mini” champion… yet you can NOT recall the overall series champion frpm year to year :?:
          :) :) JohnMC: Thank you…. you just made my case why these new inter-championships are POINTLESS & UNNECESSARY. Like my old soccer coach would scream: KISS(Keep it Simple Stupid) Although coach was crude & substituted Stupid for other “s” words!!!

  7. I enjoy the fact that there are monetary prizes given out for the champions of the two disciplines. Penske does look to be the runaway favorite for the twisties, but you never know…there were more than a few challenges from other teams at the first four races. With the unpredictability of the oval races, especially with the new-ish oval aero package, there’s a pretty fresh slate going into Saturday.

    The oval trophy should be a brass Watson-Offy #1 going tail-out around a Milwaukee-esque turn, and the road trophy should be a brass cast of Mario’s car from the first CART Long Beach race.

  8. I love the two trophy system for a variety of reasons.

    First it provides more opportunity for the series and teams to engage sponsors at a lower commitment level. Those trophies will eventually have sponsors, not @10m like izod has the series, but @ 2 to 4m which os more team money for cars on track or for the league to run a location because they want to not ruling a place because the promoter simply does not want to pay the sanctioning fee.
    Second, partial season packages are now possible for teams and drivers with a reward at the end. I could easily vision running carpenter on ovals and davison on twisties next year and they both now have a reward as the potential of their effort. Sprint car Lnot cup) drivers now have an entry point to do the oval only portions new formula drivers can enter as twisty only participants
    It also creates a logical split towards supporting two TV partners with event. Ovals on one property and twisties on another.

    A win all the way around…

    • Sponsors care about the BIG trophy that really means something :idea: A part time team is not going to beat the full time teams for this trophy, so where exactly is the selling point to these sponsors.

      As for selling a presenting sponsor on the Oval & RC trophies… look how long it took for the series to secure IZOD. I think the potential sponsor of the trophies would be better served supporting a race car & not a shiny, presentation bit.

      • “I think the potential sponsor of the trophies would be better served supporting a race car & not a shiny, presentation bit.”

        Some sponsor out there might disagree with you. Some sponsor might like the fact that their name is going to be mentioned at the same time that the winner’s trophy is handed out on the TV screen, regardless of which car/driver wins it. This is part of the reason that some companies sponsor races instead of teams.

  9. Note to self. Do not comment on blog sites using a mobile key board!!!

  10. billytheskink Says:

    I like this idea quite a bit.

    Only a significant amount of extra points fund prize money would probably make the competition for these championships a lot more intriguing than the status quo. Not that the two championships won’t be fun to follow, but that’s not the point behind this.
    This is largely a marketing move (and a pretty good one, I think) intended to infrom or remind casual fans of the diverse schedule that makes IndyCar unique.

    I hope the IndyCar website will soon start posting the seperate standings. I always liked the way the CART/ChampCar, old ARS/Indy Lights, and Atlantic websites used to publish standings in a 3 column format with subtotals for oval and road/street tracks.
    Even without the seperate championships, IndyCar should have posted such standings long ago.

  11. Rick Hunt Says:

    I’m surprised that I’m the first commenter to mention cycling. Having parallel competitions for sprinters and climbers in addition to the overall leader adds quite a bit to the sport. The road course and oval titles will just add to the show.

    • Rick: Cycling has what 250-300 riders :?: They ride 10-12 different models of bikes using bits from several manufacturers. Indycar has 24-26 regulars & drive a spec car with a spec Honda motor. Just sayin’.

      • I don’t know what any of those ideas has to do with anything that we’re discussing. Just sayin’.

      • Guess you don’t watch cycling then Speed? That sport can assign riders different jerseys & different inter-race “championships” due to freakin” HUGE fields of competitors, teams & bicycle companies participating in these tours :idea:

        Please enlighten me how Indycar compares… is it really that hard to follow my logic above :?: I think not… just sayin’!!!

      • Dude, I know how cycling works. I got snarky with you because in the layers of cycling facts and snark that you laid out there, you didn’t make clear how it related to what we were talking about. I guess apparently that was my fault.

        Giving “best in class” awards can work with a field of competitors as small as two. As a guy who autocrosses in a very unpopular class, I’ve come to find that out on a first person basis. Anyway, I don’t think it’s necessary to have a field of 200 people to give out a “best in class” award. You may see it as a hollow award to give out a “best in class” award in a field as small as 24, when everybody is using the same equipment, but some of us don’t. Don’t like it? Don’t pay attention to it.

  12. Cowboy Racer Says:

    I think it’s awesome, but then I suggested doing it way back in the early nineties. I think they should eventually evolve the series into 10 road course/street circuit races and 10 ovals alternating every other race. Wouldn’t it be great if they ran the road course at Indy the first week of May and bring back the “Month of May at Indy”. As for the Triple Crown, bring it back also, but make it a winner takes 3 out of the four majors for an million dollar bonus and 10 championship points. Indy (long oval), Long Beach (street circuit), Road America (road course), and Milwaukee (short oval). We have the most diverse schedule over any other racing series, so let’s celebrate it!!!

  13. I’ve been compiling the stats for this format, dating back to CART’s formation in 1979. It’s interesting to see how many drivers would have won at least one championship in each format.

    Paul Tracy would have three (1993/2003 CART road course, 1997 CART oval). Dario Franchitti would have three (1999 CART road course, 2007 IRL oval, 2009 IRL road course). Tony Kanaan would have two (2004 IRL oval, 2005 IRL road course).

    And looking at the standings, we can clearly see that Scott Dixon is one of the most consistent and versatile drivers in IndyCar today, in a way that we couldn’t with the one-title format. Dixie would have won oval titles in 2003 (duh, the IRL was still all ovals at this point), 2008, and 2009, and road course crowns in 2006 and 2007. The only driver with more titles in the past seven years would be Sebastien Bourdais in Champ Car with six, and that’s partially due to a two-race oval schedule and weaker competition.

    It also allows us to compare Dixon to Michael Andretti in his prime. Michael won CART oval titles in 1987 and 1988, and road course titles from 1990 to 1992, inclusive. Andretti took 24 points-paying wins over those six years, while Dixon has a close 21 over the past seven.

    One other nugget about Dixon: in 2002, the last year in which CART ran more than two oval events, he was one of only three drivers to score points in all five oval races. This, of course, was when CART only awarded points to about half the field. The others were Bruno Junqueira, who won the oval title with 54 points, and Franchitti, with 53.

  14. Ahhh, a return to normalcy where I vote against the flow!

    Anybody who has watched Indycar events over the past few years has become accustomed to the fact that the points race has began to overshadow the actual races at the latter part of the season.

    There is no captivating drama in adding up points after an event. The whole “if the race were to end now they’d be in this spot” bit does nothing to rivet fans to their seats.

    There have been a few instances in the past where there were two cars battling for the points win to the very last second, but those were not natural battles. I say that because in a healthy league there are more than 4-5 guys capable of winning a race and in such a league the odds of having that kind of battle at the end are almost nil.

    On the other hand, every season there are dozens of situations where a key competitor makes a conscious decision to avoid a passing attempt because he does not want to risk points.

    Battles like Dario/Dixon a few years ago do nothing to make up for the non-passes by guys like Brisco, Dix, Hornish etc. Why? Because the Dario/Dixon finish was exciting for everyone watching even if there was no championship at stake. Slight increases in excitement versus intentionally abandoned passing opportunities are not a wash.

    Adding another championship to overshadow the on track action and give racers a reason to avoid moderately risky passes because they care more about getting a few points than they do about winning the race is not goign to solve any problems for the series.

    We’ve seen time and time again that steady and consistent wins someone a championship. The problem is that hard charging and daring is what wins the fans.

  15. Sam Hornish should never have left for NASCAR.

  16. In discussions on this topic here and everywhere else, I have not read one word about how this program attracts one new fan.

    It’s not a bad idea.
    If it attracts no new fans, it is simply an ineffective idea.
    If it requires investment and realizes no growth, it is an inefficient idea.

    As for attracting sponsorship, the incentive for additional participation is not so clear. When audience growth attracts new sponsors, there will be adequate funding for any special allocation you can name. I’d submit that investment at the individual team level is the priority, not at the Series level.

    Having your brand name engraved on the cup does not change the equation. Maybe I’m miscalculating, not sure where.

    As for cycling, the comparison was raised elsewhere but the same conclusion was not. Ansen’s bet is probably a good one, and the 500 winner is more likely the name that a casual fan will recognize. There is normally only one day a year when he hears a lot about IndyCar racing.

    And it wasn’t on Dario’s day at Homestead, nor will it be at Motegi or Sonoma when the extra hardware is awarded.

    • Interesting thoughts about whether or not it draws in new fans. Do you think it might actually keep current fans more interested? And if so, wouldn’t that be effective marketing? Just asking.

      • Hi Fantastic,

        There wasn’t anything else I intended to say, but your questions deserve a response.

        Here is a brief list of promotional incentives to interest current fans:

        Downforce Club
        Live T&S and practice streaming
        Indy 500 sweepstakes
        Hall of Fame induction ceremony
        Online content including IICS website,
        Facebook, Twitter, and blogs
        Live streaming of promotional events
        Direct email offers

        If you are not already a fan, you get exposure to none of that. If you are not a baseball fan, you don’t go online to find out who plays shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.

        The job is to invite as many people as possible to watch or attend the race, and make sure they know when it’s run and where to find it. That means inviting millions of people, and hoping for several hundred thousand to fill the empty seats and show a significant increase in the television ratings.

        The only other way an outsider will be enticed is by a news-making event that creeps into the public media. Did Danica’s Nascar entry boost IICS ratings? Did Helio’s tango, or his foxtrot with the IRS?

        You and me, and everyone reading this, will see the race on Saturday. Maybe buy a T shirt, or a ticket to the local event. That has little to do with promotional investments targeted at us, whether they are tasty perks or not.

        We happen to think the racing is fantastic, or at least palatable. The job is to find ways to get everybody else to try a spoonful.

        If you’re on the fence about buying a ticket to Sonoma, maybe you go to see the road course champion crowned. Great. Some of your closest friends might join you. Most other people will dismiss this promotion as a gimmick, or know nothing about it.

      • Yeah, but other people have mentioned that it’s not just there for those of us who are already fans, it’s a potential hook for other people who may tune in for a one-off race and be intrigued by the road/oval thing. Mind you, it’s not likely to draw thousands upon thousands of new eyes or put hundreds upon hundreds of people in seats, but if it’s something that the League can do for a minimal effort and expense (see my other reply below for my thoughts on that), then why not do it? The stuff you listed there isn’t necessarily something that will hit a guy who’s walking down the street who’s never heard of IndyCar racing and convince him to tune in, but it just may convince the people who stumble across a race to stick around because, hey, this is fun to watch! It’s also fun to follow all the online stuff! It doesn’t mean that the League’s job is done with promoting (far from it), but it’s a start. Let me repeat that: it’s a start.

        Nobody’s saying this is a “be all, end all” for attracting new fans, but it’s a sign of the fact that the new leadership is interested in giving the fans (new and existing) something. After 14 years of very little “something” from either side of the split, isn’t that encouraging? I say yes.

    • As a fan I like it and as a seasoned marketing/sales type I understand the need to keep current fans enthusiastic. As for new fans coming however they come, this will be waiting for them. As for sponsorship packages it something more to sell and I see it as an attractive package.

    • Well, I think that the potential for new sponsorship is at least openend up a little bit with this idea. A driver like Sarah (not actually Sarah, though, because she’s already doing this, so maybe I should go with somebody like Tomas Scheckter or an up and comer like Holdebrand) can go to a sponsor who might not want to pony up the cash for a whole season and say “that’s OK, if you give me X dollars, we can make a run at the Foyt Cup”.

      Is it an ironclad guarantee that it’ll attract new sponsors or pull in new fans? No, but the investment concerned is basically nothing (what, a couple hundred thousand dollars of prize money plus commissioning a couple new trophies?), it’s something that can be instituted right now (most growth plans are mid- to long-term, and will take months to get rolling, so coming up with an easy short-term chnage is a good thing for now), it gets people talking (um, I think that’s what we’re doing here), and it’s something extra for the fans to follow. To my mind, it makes the series more fun to follow. More fun = good, no?

      • OK, replying to my own idea here, but if the League can find some sponsor to pony up the cash for the road prize and another to pony up the cash for the oval prize (say, $100,000 each, or whatever, really), then the investment by the League itself is zero. If they can then parlay those sponsors into wider participation down the road, say, overall sponsorship of the League (the Official IndyCar Foot Deodorizer!) which could go into the TEAM kitty, or event sponsorship, then that’s a net positive.

        I know there are a lot of “if”s in this scenario, but they’re not exactly leaps in logic like “if aliens came down and sponsored a car”. I could easily see this scenario working out for 2011 and beyond.

      • Also, that new guy’s name is “Hildebrand”. I’ve got a bad case of the fat fingers today.

      • However Speed… when the driver (or the driver’s agent) tells sponsor X that he can make a run @ the Foyt Cup… they would be b*ll $h*tting their a$$es off. A part time Tomas or JR Hilderbrand is not going to slay the full time Penske/ Ganassi/ or AA “dragon” to win an oval or a road course trophy :!:

        If it gets these guys onto the track I will revise my opinions… however I don’t see these two new “championships” as a magic fix to assist drivers to get sponsorship secured.

      • Dude, I didn’t say it was a “magic fix” for anything. I said that there’s a chance that some drivers and teams will be able to get some sponsorship out of this. “BS”-ing their a$$es off? Gee, I can’t imagine that anybody’s ever BS’ed a sponsor before. Anyway, if this gives ANY driver, even if it’s just one driver, an extra in with a potential sponsor, then I’m for it. I’m all for it for several other reasons, but that’s #1, as far as I’m concerned.

        Look, the fact that the League can institute this right now, for an outlay of zero dollars (I really believe that the prize for either championship will be in the range of a couple hundred thousand dollars, and I believe they can find a sponsor to foot the bill at that level) means that this is an absolute lay up, at least in my eyes. Most of the marketing stuff that will pull in more eyes and more sponsors is, I’m sure, down the road a ways yet, or going to be rolled out in the coming weeks. Randy has been in office…[looking at my calendar]…60 days now. Did you think he was going to waive a magic wand and make everything better this fast? Because I didn’t. There’s a lot of work yet to be done. Let’s give him a chance to do it.

      • Speed, you got it. The track championships will play big dollar-wise down the immediate road. There are several bonuses, too. Suppose, for example, someone like Autozone was a championship sponsor. Think about the in-store promotion and having a tag on the media advertising when something like this is activated. How about Coke? The IICS has more to offer to sponsors and that is a salesman’s dream. This has so much upside and the marketing folks have got to be happy about the new offerings if not ecstatic.

      • JohnMc: You are pulling a lot of WHAT-IF’s into your new championship scenarios. Indycar just secured IZOD as a series sponsor & now you think Autozone (or a variety of additional companies) are going to come running to support one of these “mini” championships?? SERIOUSLY???

        Speed: If I’m ANY Indycar owner WHY would I give a good crap about 100K when my sponsorship overhead is 8-10 MILLION a car

        Guys, we are all fans of Indycar (or we wouldn’t be here, eh) but lets be freakin REAL about our hopes & dreams for the series. (1) If I was IZOD I would be seriously PI$$ED if these two mini championships got branded… it takes away from my PR. I’ve branded this series the IZOD Indycar Series… Autozone (or who ever) muddies up my message :idea:
        (2) I’ve heard sports marketing types tell the ALMS that their multiple class racing is CONFUSING to the regular sports fan. They are not even mentioned on SportsCenter, so imagine the ESPN guys trying to explain 3 ICS champions to their stick & ball crowd.

        My favorite part will be when they have to tell that same crowd that the “Oval” champion doesn’t include the OVAL where hopefully the REAL IICS championship is being crowned (Miami-Homestead). What if the oval championship is a three way TIE entering the last oval race? Oh happy joy-joy… FIVE 2011 “championship” trophies @ the year-end banquet (2011 champ, 1 RC champ, & 3 oval champs ) :( :( :(

      • AZZO, for a guy who was criticizing a bunch of us for playing around with hypothetical situations, you threw quite a few out there yourself. Five trophies? Uh, OK. I don’t think I’d worry too much about that.

        I don’t think you’re giving anybody nearly enough credit to be able to hold three points systems in their head at the same time. Those same “ESPN guys” talk about scoring titles, rebound titles, assist titles, conference and division titles, plus the NBA Finals champs. Is that more or less complicated than IndyCar having three points standings (one of which is literally the other two added together)? I say “more complicated”, but I’ve never heard one person complain once about the NBA being too complicated. At the same time, many of those same fans can track many stats in multiple other sports as well. Again, an IndyCar driver with three points numbers by his name in the standings pales in comparison to what people are exposed to on ESPN.com on a daily basis. Click on a player page for any sport and you’ll see what I mean.

        Your comparison to ALMS isn’t really an apples to apples comparison, either. We aren’t going to have separate classes on the track at once (which, even as a big fan of the ALMS, I will admit is confusing, sometimes even for die hards), it’s the results of this week’s race counts toward one one minor championship and the overall, but not the other minor championship. Am I missing something about how that’s hard to grasp? Because I think any fan, existing or new, will be able to get it with about 45 seconds of explanation. Hey, maybe I’ll try this on my wife tomorrow as an experiment.

        As for Izod…you think Randy didn’t run this past them first? Or that he’d have to run it by them if somebody wanted to sponsor one of the road/oval trophies? If Izod wasn’t into this, I’m convinced that it’d never have seen the light of day.

        Dude, we got it. You don’t like the “three championships” (which I say is like having two division champs and one Super Bowl champ). Tell you what: maybe you shouldn’t pay any attention to them then. Meanwhile, some of us are going to enjoy them for what they are: not a be-all-end-all for what ails our sport, but something interesting to talk about.

      • AZZO45 Says:

        Speed: Actually my hypotheticals were not that long or complicated. How many years has the ICS championship come down to Homestead (last race)? How many years have several drivers been tied for points?

        How long did it take Indycar to secure a solid title sponsor & you guys think there will be two more just rushing in to sponsor the RC & Oval titles?

        My bigger point was the “Oval Champion” does NOT include Homestead so it is an even more hollow “championship” Sorry but IMO, that would be like naming a NBA post season MVP but DROPPING games from the Finals :idea: The NFL’s AFC & NFC champion BOTH play 16 reg. season games. Indycar’s “oval” champion won’t get to count ONE oval for his championship. Its flawed even before the end. How much you want to bet the overall ICS champion will also pick up a RC or oval trophy too?

        Again you brought up the NBA to defend this half-a$$ ICS mini championship… The NBA is similar to my previous cycling example. The NBA has what 30 teams & thousands of players. Stat geeks have a lot to play with.

        As for me criticizing you… dude, its a BLOG & we are all sharing our OPINIONS :idea: We don’t have to agree (& we obviously don’t on this) Over at the Indycar.com Forums these mini championships have basically been panned. So its not just me. :idea: I also polled a few of my friends who really don’t follow Indycar. Had them read an article explaining these minis & they thought it was a circle jerk. They both said Indycar should just focus on RACING & ONE championship. So many diehards (@ Indycar.com) are shaking their heads & its doing zero for the casual fan. Randy’s changes (like a new chassis) should be BIG & BOLD. This mini championships is a big WTFC’s… Kind of like the old CART Nation’s Cup. No one gave a crap about that either.

      • My hypothetical wasn’t that long or complicated, either. My point with that was that if you’re going to throw stones at other people for presenting hypothetical situations, you might wanna, you know, wait until our next debate topic before you throw some out there yourself.

        I wanted to update on my “experiment” from last night. The following is almost verbatim.

        Me [to wife]: OK, honey, you know how IndyCars race on both ovals and road courses?
        Her: Yes.
        Me: Well, they’ve decided to give out trophies to the person who scores the most points on each.
        Her: OK.
        Me: So, if you score points on an oval, that goes in your “oval” column as well as in the “overall” column. The converse is true for the road courses.
        Her: OK.
        Me: The overall points score for each driver will be the same as the oval number and the road number added together.
        Her: OK.
        Me: Did you get all of that? Does any of it need further explanation?
        Her: Yeah, I got it. Wait, am I supposedly a “dumb” person in some sort of experiment you’re doing?
        Me: Uh…no?

        There you have it. Even a non-sports fan can understand this in under a minute.

        I know that this is a blog and we’re presenting opinions, which we are both allowed to have, and we are allowed to disagree. But, the thing that has made this a particularly aggravating debate for me is that critics (you included) have skipped back and forth between the “means nothing” and “too complicated” arguments, and use them almost interchangably. My point with all that NBA talk is that the split championships are not hard to understand, that it’s far less difficult to understand than people are making it out to be. I will concede that the “means nothing” argument is up for debate, and that’s in the eye of the beholder. You’re on one side of the fence with your buddies and apparently every single person on the IndyCar.com forums, while me, the couple of friends that I’ve talked to, plus George, plus Jeff Iannucci, plus maybe one or two other people are on the other. That’s fine. At the same time, though, I’ve made the point repeatedly here and elsewhere that this isn’t really something to bring in new fans. That heavy lifting is yet to be done, and I think (and hope) there’s more to come on that topic. Meanwhile, this was something that Randy could announce right now, at limited cost (even if they don’t sign on new sponsors, which is not guaranteed, just an idea I had, and you’ll have to forgive me for trying to be optimistic about something) and give folks something to talk about.

        The other debate, though, the one about it being ridiculously complicated, is the one I take offense to. It’s an insult to sports fans everywhere that they can follow other sports to the minute detail and wouldn’t be able to understand the road/oval champions. That isn’t saying anything about the validity of the road/oval champions, just that people aren’t so simple that they can’t understand three columns of data.

      • So Speed… when did you explain to your wife that the potential “oval champion” does NOT get to count the Homestead OVAL points :?:

        What is this “Split NBA Championship” you keep mentioning :?: The East Champ meets the West’s Champ. Those games are a key part of the NBA championship… the ICS oval & RC concept are NOT :!: Last years NBA Champion was the L.A. Lakers. No one but fans from Orlando cares that the Magic wee the Eastern Conference champions…. remember that old No Fear t-shirt :?: 2ND PLACE is the 1ST LOSER :!:

        BTW Speed, add the RLM/ Midweek Motorsport team (4) to my camp too :idea & Dex writes for Jeff’s blog :shock:

        If it was just “adding up 3 columns of data” fine… but the oval deal isn’t… it asks you to crown an oval champ EXCEPT don’t use the last OVAL as we don’t want to goof with the REAL champion’s day. NFL,MLB, NBA & NHL do not make you fuss with subtraction… its all about winning & crowning ONE champion.

        Cheers mate… we obviously agree to DISAGREE on this :)

      • Hey, thanks for apparently not having the courtesy to even take 30 seconds to try to understand what I was saying.

        I’m done with you, on this topic and any other.

      • Speed: Don’t take it so dame personally dude… guess you missed my “cheers” at the end of my last post :idea:

        Besides it took much more than 30 seconds to READ your last post. I read it I re-read it & do not get your NBA analogy (as explained in my response).

        You get all angry with me but you never address the major flaw in the “oval championship”. Your NFL & NBA analogies didn’t make sense to me (as the conference championships are a KEY piece of the OVERALL chamionship. The ICS deal are fragmented & kept SEPARATE by the series by design.

      • Fine, one last try: read what I wrote carefully. I didn’t say that the NBA has “split championships”, I was making the illustration that there are a myriad of things for people to follow in the NBA (personal stats, individual titles, team stats, team division standings/titles, overall league standings/titles), same as there are for the NFL and MLB. If people can follow 6-10 and more stat lines for MLB players, why can’t they follow 3 lines for IndyCar drivers? That was the entire point with the illustration with my wife. She is not a sports fan. She understood in under a minute. You said earlier “imagine the ESPN guys trying to explain 3 ICS champions to their stick & ball crowd”. I find that to be either overstating how complicated this new system is or understating the intelligence of the average sports fan. Ignore for one second the part where they leave Homestead out of the oval championship. With that out of the way, what is so complicated here?

        I haven’t addressed your concern about the last oval race of the year not being included in the oval championship until now because I understand what they’re trying to do: settle the two lesser championships first and then crown the big guy (or gal) at the finale. You have a problem with that. I don’t. You and your list of 1,000 people who argree with you think the whole thing is a joke. I and the four people who agree with me don’t. That is where we part ways on this.

  17. I like the idea in general, but I’m a bit worried about one thing that could happen. I’m wondering if a team now might choose to split drivers with one driver doing the road courses and one driver doing the ovals. I know Sarah Fisher is already doing this, but I could see other teams being encouraged to do this for these sub-champions. I’m worried a driver like Justin Wilson could be pulled by Dreyer & Reinbold for some “oval specialist” in the oval races (i.e. Tomas Scheckter), because people pretend Wilson sucks on ovals just because he hasn’t had the equipment necessary to have good runs on them. (Really, the team would pull Conway, who actually does suck on ovals, but still, I don’t like the idea that this could lead to team discontinuities where teams run different drivers different weeks based on their oval/road strengths). Does Ganassi add a third car and put Wheldon in the oval races and Wilson in the road course races, with both of them sitting out the rest of the races because they can’t find sponsorship? That’s my concern with this…

    Apart from that, I think this is cool and still a good move generally. I just hope this doesn’t lead to even greater seasonal instability among teams.

    • I’ll also add that I wish there was diversity in the ovals, because having six tracks similar to each other (and all very, very engineering-biased) will make that championship very, very boring. We NEED Milwaukee, Loudon, Phoenix, and/or Rockingham (either one). Those should be the priority races…

      • I’ll agree with this second point wholeheartedly. I’m less worried than you are about that first thing, though I also think that Wilson’s never had good enough oval equipment to display his wares. Do you think that Justin would rather go run a partial schedule for the Chipster than a full schedule at DRR? Not being snarky, I’m asking. I don’t really know the answer there. It’s the “Will Power Connundrum”…

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