Indycar Considering Changes to Indy 500 Points System
At present an inordinate number of points are handed out at the series' hallmark race.
While there are many things that many have criticized about Indycar, perhaps one of the most common critiques is the way the series, seemingly artificially, keeps its championship alive each year by throwing points around like candy.
Unlike F1 or other Euro-centric racing series, Indycar awards points to every finisher in every race, in addition to handing out points for pole position, leading the most laps, and for simply leading a race.
On top of that, the series heaps points on drivers for their participation in The Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports, The Indianapolis 500. In addition, a whopping 42 points are dolled out for winning pole at Indy.
At present, double points are awarded to drivers and teams at The Brickyard, but according to Jay Frey, Indycar's President of Competition, that may change in upcoming seasons.
“With qualifying points so high, and then double-points in the race, you’re offering two-and-a-half times our regular points,” Frye told Motorspots.com, “and the thing is, I don’t think Indy needs that."
To a large extent, he's right. Indianapolis is Indianapolis. It doesn't need to have manufactured excitement, it is all inherently contained within the four walls of the track. Furthermore, winning the 500 mile race is almost reward in and of itself.
Just look at 2016 champion Alexander Rossi who, with the exception of Indy, didn't have the most stellar season. He manage to rebound in his sophomore season, netting a win a Watkins Glen and consistently punching above his weight while his teammates around him seemed to struggle, but the fact remains that Indianapolis put him on the map.
Alexader Rossi, 2016 Indianapolis 500 champion, enjoying the ceremonial glass of milk awarded to champions of the 500 mile race. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
To those of us who follow racing with intensity, Rossi's name may have been familiar to us thanks to his participation in F1, but to the everyday viewer, the young Californian was a no-name. That changed after Indianapolis. His win propelled him to stardom and he has been able to cash in on it by becoming one of Indycar's most recognizable faces, so much so that he's appearing in CBS's Amazing Race this season (see the video I posted earlier today).
Fact is, careers are made at Indianapolis. Winning the race or securing pole is thanks enough and the massive amounts of points that are available over Memorial Day weekend are nice, but they are trivial compared to getting your face etched on to the Borg Warner Trophy.
The Indycar higher-ups know that. An Indycar championship, frankly, doesn't mean half as much as putting your name alongside such greats as Foyt, Clark, Mears, Unser, Fittipaldi, and Franchitti.