Seems that the new CEO of Hulman George Company wasn’t as much of a status quo guy as I thought. He’s floated the idea of having a NASCAR style playoffs, lighting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to move the Brickyard 400 to the night and the possibility of another major race at the speedway.
I just want to go on the record right now and say that I hate, hate the idea of a playoff system for Indycar. I get it, it gives more drivers a chance to win, which can generate more interest and give people more drivers to root for, but Indycar doesn’t need it.
Unlike NASCAR, Indycar only races seventeen weekends a year. Splitting off a four or five race “Chase” doesn’t make as much sense as it does when you have 36 points races. NASCAR had to do something because they added so many races, and the drivers were so good that the title was being clinched with three or four races to go. Indycar doesn’t have that problem.
In 2012 Ryan Hunter Reay won the championship by three points over Will Power, the margin in 2011 was twenty three points between Dario Franchitti and Power, but went down to the last race. In 2010 Franchitti beat Power by five points. Franchitti won again in 2009, beating Scott Dixon by 11 points, and in 2008 Dixon beat Helio Castroneves by 17 points.
So there you have, all of the championships over the past five years have come down the last race between two drivers. I’m sure you could come up with a format would get three or four into contention at the last race, but why? I don’t want to bang on NASCAR, but “The Chase” has always felt artificial to me. It seems like something they created to artificially bunch the field together and generate predictable drama, sort of like how MTV keeps loading twenty-somethings into houses, buying them alcohol and filming what happens.
If you look at NASCAR, typically, even with “The Chase” and a new points system the results for the past few years the Indycar point margin has been closer, with the notable exception for Tony Stewart/Carl Edwards in 2011. Beyond that, in the NASCAR format if one driver went on a tear at the first of the season and won three or four races, as has happened in the past, they could sit out for the rest of the year and still start “The Chase” via a wildcard spot.
I like the current point system, it works. It will probably work just as well with more races. F-1 raced twenty races this season and still had their title chase come down to the last race. I’d rather have two drivers honestly contesting a championship than six or seven mathematically in, but nowhere close to contention.
I’m not saying the current point system can’t be tweaked, but please, no playoffs.