Indycar : Double points drama.

The Verizon Indycar series today has released the 2015 adjustments to the rulebook, I will explore the changes, using the official release from Indycar and then add my thoughts on the changes :

Double Points

One-hundred points are awarded to the winner of a double-points race, with the runner-up receiving 80 points and the third-place finisher receiving 70 points. The scale decreases to 10 points for the 25th-place finisher and lower. Bonus points again will be awarded for leading the most race laps (two points) and leading at least one lap (one point). Outside of the Indianapolis 500, an entrant receives one point for earning the Verizon P1 Award. The Indianapolis 500 will rewards all entrants with points in its May 16-17 multi-tiered qualifications, including an additional nine points to the Verizon P1 Award winner.

“We look at the new calendar and analyze how many cars would be in contention for the championship after certain events, and the best trend with multiple cars racing for the championship was weighting it for the final race and the Indianapolis 500, which is a special race deserving of double points,” Walker said.

My thoughts: This one is the largest change, and the one I feel I have the most issues with. Last year I praised Indycar for the way it integrated double points, focusing on the 500 mile races, which added prestige to those events, and gave credibility to the double points concept. For 2015, I agree on the double points for the Indianapolis 500, it makes plenty of sense.

However I strongly disagree with the idea of the season finale at Sonoma as a double point race. It echoes the criticism F1 has received this season, in that the event it is applied to is not unique enough from the remainder of the season to be deserving of double points. Sonoma is a strong venue and it is the season finale, however in my opinion the race shouldn’t be worth any more in points than Long Beach, or St Pete for example.

Personally I think Indycar could of perhaps done something different for 2015, when it came to double point allocation or dropped the double point finale, and simply had the Indianapolis 500 as the only double point event of the season.

Standing starts

Standing starts, which were introduced in 2013 at Toronto and utilized at Long Beach, Indianapolis road course, Houston 1 and Toronto 2 in 2014, have been eliminated for the 2015 season.

“Most of the tracks we run on, few meet the space criteria for our cars, which are bigger than most formula cars,” Walker said, “and there is some development needed with the launch. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the picture for the future. We know the fans enjoy it, and we love it, too.”

My thoughts: I agree with Indycar on the idea of at least temporarily abandoning standing starts, it was something that was never quite executed correctly in the series in my opinion and I do not believe it added enough to the events, due to the concepts sporadic appearance in the Indycar Series.  Overall I aren’t going to miss standing starts personally.

Test days

Teams will be charged four days from their 14-day test allocation for Promoter Days (formerly known as Open Tests) at Barber Motorsports Park (March 16-17, for the introduction of Chevrolet and Honda street/road course aero kits), St. Petersburg (March 27), NOLA Motorsports Park (April 10), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (May 3), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 7), and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 31). The on-track Promoter Day at St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio immediately precede the race event weekends.

“We see these days, working with the promoters, as a way fans can see the stars and cars in ways that aren’t available during the race weekend,” Walker said. “It will be a less formal day for the teams and drivers with long on-track sessions. Also, when you look at the schedule, there aren’t too many days that teams can test with the arrival of aero kits. We picked a nominal amount of dates to start to create value and cost-savings for teams.”

On-track testing is not permitted within seven before the start of on-track activity at a race location with the exception of the period March 9-25. Team testing blackout dates include Dec. 22-Jan. 4, 2015; Jan. 27-30; May 4-25.

My thoughts: The promoter days make alot of sense to me, based immediately prior to the events allows for fans to get up close to the series. Additionally with Indycar searching for fans, giving them as much on track action as possible that is accessible, is far more effective for the series, then a test with no one watching.
You only have to look at WEC’s prologue day at Paul Ricard, BTCC media day or F1’s Young Driver Tests / In season tests to know a fan interest does exist in seeing test days live.

Road/Street course qualifying
Groups for Segment One of the three-segment road/street course qualifications will be set by lap times in the latest on-track session. The rule corresponds to the Promoter Day at St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that immediately precede the race event weekends. The sessions on the extra day at each venue will not be used in determining Segment One groups.

To determine Segment One, INDYCAR shall rank the cars in order of time, with the driver posting the best time ranking appearing in the first position and continuing through the rest of the field in order of increasing time. The driver with the best time ranking shall determine the groups and notify INDYCAR of his/her decision within 30 minutes following the conclusion of the practice session that determines the qualifications groups.

Pit selection, Non Indianapolis 500 events – If an entrant does not participate at the prior race location, it shall be assigned a pit location as follows: 1) Entrant points, 2) Blind draw

Qualifying will continue to set the pit lane assignment for the following event, but rule addresses changing drivers between events, such as Ed Carpenter and Mike Conway with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014. When Conway, who drove 12 road/street course races in the No. 20 entry, yielded to Carpenter for an oval race (and vice versa), the No. 20 car was assigned the last pit stall from pit out. Under the new rule, the driver will retain their qualifying position from the previous event.

For the first race of the season, pit locations shall be assigned based upon 2014 final entrant point standings. Entrants without points shall be assigned by the date that entry was received.

My thoughts: This makes plenty of sense to me, particularly for those who run multiple drivers throughout the season, it creates less confusion for those watching pit road, and ultimately I have very little issue with this proposal.

Rookie orientation program changes (Indianapolis 500)

Each of the speed phases of the Rookie Orientation Program for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has been increased 5 mph.  Phase One of 10 laps at 205-210 mph, Phase Two of 15 laps at 210-215mph and Phase Three of 15 laps at 215+ mph. The laps do not have to be consecutive. The phases and corresponding speeds may be adjusted based on track/weather conditions.

Correspondingly, the Indianapolis 500 refresher test for drivers will consist of 30 total laps.

My thoughts: ROP speed increase changes make sense, given the increased speed expected from the use of Aero Kits this season, as well as the lap speed record breaking intention from Indycar. However it isn’t something that is going to make a great deal of difference overall to those watching.

Overall, not a bad selection of rule changes from the Indycar Series, mostly refinement rather than radical change, and besides the double points concept. I am overall rather happy with the changes, please feel free to add your thoughts and comments.

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