The Verizon IndyCar Series finale at Sonoma Raceway, home track of The International, was certainly drama-filled. The biggest story of the race was the surge of Scott Dixon from third in the points at the waiving of the green flag to being the 2015 champion at the checkered flag. Juan Pablo Montoya, who had lead the championship the entire season until the end of the final race, was understandably bitter. Running into his teammate and primary championship rival certainly didn’t do his championship aspirations any favours and is likely the event that permitted Dixon to make the leap from third to first. Rather than recognizing this enormous mistake as the primary reason for the championship slipping away, Montoya instead chose to lash out at Dixon and the double-points races this season, which included the season finale at Sonoma.
“Dixon had a shit season all year and had one good race, and we paid the penalty.” — Juan Pablo Montoya, #2 Penske Racing
While I agree with Montoya’s disdain for double-points races, I disagree that Dixon had a poor season singularly salvaged by his win this past Sunday. Double-points races have always seemed gimmicky, and without the double-points races this season, Montoya would have edged out Dixon by six points, 470 to 476 with all bonus points included. He also had a higher average finishing position than Dixon, 6.9 to 7.7. What are not included in this hypothetical, though, are the points from qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. INDYCAR elected to disregard points for qualifying after the regulations were changed literally at the 11th hour. Include the 500 qualification points, and suddenly, you have a very different picture; Dixon wins 520 to 491.
All this playing about with points and what-ifs is, of course, merely speculation and Monday morning quarterbacking, but it does illustrate a point. A driver who earned no pole positions during active qualifying, only won two races, and took out his own teammate during the season finale has no business saying that a driver who won three pole positions and won three races, including the season finale, and led the most laps in four races had a “shit season.” We can discuss the pros and cons of double-points races and other championship-spicing gimmicks, if you wish, but Dixon earned his championship under the rules that were in place at the beginning of the season, and looked classy doing it.