I do not get why IndyCar recently changed the math behind its heretofore pure points championship system.
To me, it's like trading away a second-round draft pick for $600 and a used washing machine.
On March 20, IndyCar announced changes to the way points will be awarded in 2014. You can read full details here, but head-scratcher for me was the concept of making performance on the 500-mile ovals TWICE as valuable as performance on every other race. And by enhancing points for the Indy 500 qualifying AND race, IndyCar has made it the most important points race of them all.
Actually, the Indy 500 points bonanza fits with the league's Indy focus, but I don't get the thinking behind the other changes. IndyCar’s explanation for why it would double points awarded for finishes at the 500-mile ovals was:
“Adding more weight to the 500-mile events rewards teams and drivers that continually rise to the occasion at key times of the year,” said INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Derrick Walker. “We looked at various ways to improve the way we decide our champions, and this will only make the championship battles more exciting.”
If the 500-mile races are "key times of the year," what's upcoming St. Pete and every other non-500-mile race? Not key? Semi-key?
It's just weird. I read a comment on another blog that proposed that doubling the points on thee ovals (Indy, Pocono and Fontana) is kind of a compensation for the lack of ovals on the schedule. In other words, since IndyCar doesn't offer races on more ovals, they are making these three big ovals more valuable. Sort of a points approach to the doubleheaders at twisties like Detroit.
Actually THAT is a more credible theory than what IndyCar offered: “reward teams and drivers that continually rise to the occasion at key times of the year.”
When NASCAR announced changes in the points system -- even if you thought they were goofy -- at least they communicated their reasoning well: to emphasize winning during the season and to create elimination games along the lines of the wildly popular NCAA basketball tournament during NASCAR's playoff "Chase."
Maybe you think that’s stupid (fair enough), but at least NASCAR's motivation was understandable.
By the way, the new NASCAR focus on winning is working. I and many others see the new “win and your in the Chase” rules encouraging drivers in the top five late in the race to push very hard for the win, in my opinion much harder than they would have under the old system of points.
As for the motivation for IndyCar’s change, I’m at a loss. The only thing I can imagine is that the double-points gives you a hook to hype the ovals. Tune in to Pocono because someone will win DOUBLE POINTS. It’s something, to be sure, but not much. If you have ideas, please comment below.
What the IndyCar points change did do is rob the league of its moral high ground when it comes to points championship. Up until the change, IndyCar could rightly say that it was a truly gimmick-free points championship, with no “Race for the Chase playoff,” or win-and-your-in, or any other impurity. Just a points structure that applied to every race, with the champion being the driver who had the most points at the end of the last race.
IndyCar’s legit and differentiating claim to points purity went out the window on March 20, and IndyCar got very little in return for giving it up.