Is It Time For Double-Points To Go?
Before I sat down to write my race re-cap Sunday night, I did my usual scan through social media just to see what little tidbits were out there. In doing so, I came across what appeared to be a well thought-out nugget explaining that had there been no double-points awarded this season – Scott Dixon would have still won the championship. It sounded good, so I went with it. Besides; if it’s on the internet, it’s got too be true…right? Come to find out, the information was incorrect. Juan Montoya would have won by four points.
If you’ll recall, however – IndyCar decided not to award bonus points for the amended qualifying format that allowed only one attempt after all of the hoopla surrounding the Chevy aero kits. Based on their respective qualifying positions, had those points been awarded – Dixon would have come out the winner. Confused? You’re not the only one.
Most know that I’m a longtime fan of Team Penske. That doesn’t mean I was pulling for Montoya to win the championship. I wasn’t. Going back to his two seasons in CART, I’ve never been a Montoya fan. I’ve always considered him a talented driver and a self-centered jerk. His sour grapes demeanor after realizing he had just thrown away the championship did nothing to change my mind. He blamed his loss on IndyCar awarding double-points at the last race of the season just to create some false drama. Of course, he didn’t seem to mind collecting double-points at the only other race that offers them – the Indianapolis 500 in May.
But you know what, no matter what I think of Juan Montoya or how he acted immediately after the race – he and I agree on one thing. The double-points need to go.
Yes, the awarding of double-points creates more buzz leading into the last race, but is there not enough buzz already? Proponents of double-points will point out that the 2014 championship would have already been decided heading into the season finale at Fontana had there not been double points at stake in the final race. While race promoters want the buzz of a championship surrounding their race, it can’t always happen that way.
More times than not, the Super Bowl is a runaway for one of the two teams. The NFL doesn’t resort to making touchdowns in the final five minutes of a game count double. Can you imagine how NFL history would have been altered had they instituted such a rule? Ninth inning runs count just as much as those in the first inning, whether they take place in April or in the World Series. My busiest time of the year at work is in January and February. Do they pay me double? I wish.
The point is, drivers and teams should approach each race and qualifying session the same, regardless if it is Barber, Milwaukee or the Indianapolis 500. The points distribution should be identical for every event. The Indianapolis 500 gets all the hype and many teams focus more on it than any other race. But that’s due to its history and prestige. It is able to stand alone on that. It doesn’t need the manufactured drama that double-points bring. A newcomer to this sport would think that Sonoma is on the same level as the Indianapolis 500. It’s not.
While they’re at it, they should ditch the awarding of multiple points for Indianapolis 500 qualifying. The way it’s currently structured, the pole-winner gets about as much for winning the pole as a podium finish in most races. Very few drivers can explain the points system and format for Indianapolis 500 qualifying. If the drivers don’t understand it, do you think many fans can explain it fully? I can’t and I consider myself a pretty hard-core fan.
This all started in 2013, when the Triple Crown was reinstated. This was an incentive to win all three super-speedway races; Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana. Pocono was a 400-miler its first year, but it came close enough to the Triple Crown of the 1970’s – the Indianapolis 500, the Pocono 500 and the California 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway over Labor Day weekend. In short, this incarnation of the Triple Crown fizzled after one year. But the awarding of double-points at the three races continued for 2014. This year, double-points were awarded for the Indianapolis 500 and Sonoma only.
As a fan, I always appreciated the fact that the Indianapolis 500 paid the same amount of points as Nazareth, Fontana or Barber. It’s the way it should be. That way, teams and drivers can’t relax one week because they know they have a double-points race coming up the next week. A good effort at Texas should count the same in points as a good effort at Indianapolis. Doing well at Mid-Ohio should count as much as doing well at Sonoma. Currently, it doesn’t.
To Montoya’s point – a mistake at one track should be an equal penalty in the points, no matter where the mistake took place. As it stands, you get penalized twice as much for spinning at Sonoma than you do at St. Petersburg. With no double-points or the screwy points system for Indianapolis 500 qualifying, Sunday’s contact with Will Power would not have cost Montoya the championship.
Racing is made up of “ifs” and “buts” already. It’s in the nature of the sport. I don’t think there needs to be any more unnecessary conjecture thrown into a discussion about championships.
Most regular readers of this site will not be surprised to learn that I’m opposed to double-points. To me – it’s contrived, manufactured and artificial drama; and completely unnecessary.
I’ve always thought that when it comes to points – the simpler, the better. In all honesty, CART had the best system. Twenty points for a win, sixteen for second, fourteen for third until it graduates down to a single point for twelfth place. Anyone placing lower than twelfth, received no points. After all, should a driver really receive points simply for showing up and starting a race? One point was awarded for the pole and another for leading the most laps. There was no point for simply leading a race. The maximum number of points in any weekend was twenty-two. That applied across the entire schedule. No one race was more important than the other.
An NFL team plays a sixteen-game schedule. Each game counts the same. Colt fans may prefer to beat New England more than any other team on their schedule, but beating the Titans counts just as much as beating the Patriots. That’s the way iit should be and that’s how it should be in racing also.