Should IndyCar Scrap Double-Points?
Next weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series will wrap up their 2016 season with a trip to Sonoma. As has been the case since 2014, the season finale will pay double-points for race results, but all bonus points will remain the same. It seems to me that if you are going to pay double-points, then everything should be doubled. Instead of a the pole position paying its usual one point, logic would have it that it should pay two next weekend.
But one should never try and use logic when it comes to double-points. If anyone with IndyCar ever did apply logic, double-points paying races would be eliminated altogether. There is no word for double-points other than gimmick – plain and simple. How else can you explain it?
Double-points racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series first appeared in 2014. In that season, the three 500-mile races – Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana – awarded double-points in an effort to balance the fact that there were so few ovals on the schedule. It just so happened that Fontana also served as the season finale, so the last race paid double points. In 2015, this was changed to only Indianapolis and the season finale at Sonoma would pay double-points. That scenario is repeated for this season.
Why the double-points system was put into place was beyond me. In my opinion, it serves as nothing but manufactured drama. The IndyCar points battle needed no built-in drama. It was dramatic enough, naturally. The last time the championship was decided before the final race, was when Tony Kanaan clinched the championship with one race to go. Kanaan was aided by the fact that he completed every lap that season. Amazingly, Kanaan finished no worse than eighth – the opening race at Homestead. After the opener, Kanaan never finished worse than fifth, which he did three times – at Richmond, Kentucky and Pike’s Peak.
Seasons like that don’t come along very often. Even with the championship in hand, Kanaan delivered a second-place finish at Texas – in a car that was in a reverse paint scheme from his usual green sidepods. That was the first and last time I ever saw that familiar 7-Eleven car in the reverse livery.
Ten years later, after riveting season finales that went down to who would make the bigger mistake in the final race – IndyCar decided that that just wasn’t enough. They had to throw a gimmick in there to cheapen things up. They made three races double-points races, then reduced it to two for 2015 and 2016. Here’s a suggestion – reduce it to none for 2017 and beyond.
I always liked the fact that as far as the points went, no race was considered any bigger than the other. The Indianapolis 500 counted the same as the race at Iowa. There just seemed to be something pure about that. Last night’s NFL opener featured the Carolina Panthers losing to the Denver Broncos by a score of 21-20, in a much-anticipated rematch of Super Bowl 50. That win counts the same for the Broncos as when Denver meets the San Diego Chargers in October. The NFL doesn’t say that a couple of their sixteen games count more than the others. Each win or loss counts the same. It should be the same in racing.
IndyCar had that purity until 2014, when they came up with awarding double-points for the three 500-mile races. It got even more ridiculous when it included only the Indianapolis 500 and Sonoma – a track that is known more for dust and yawns than for drama. Don’t try to contrive things just to make Sonoma watchable. The season finale will be watched regardless of double-points, so long as the championship is still up for grabs.
So I ask the powers that be within IndyCar, to please scrap the double-points gimmick and bring back the purity of the points system. Now, about that crazy Indianapolis 500 qualifying format…
Please note: Susan and I will be tied up all weekend, including attending the Vikings-Titans season opener. I will have little or no time to write this weekend, so there will be no post here on Monday Sep 12, but I will return on Wednesday Sep 14.-GP