The doubleheader at Iowa Speedway, combined with the Indy 500 no longer being a double points race, makes this coming weekend the single most important weekend in the IndyCar championship battle.
While there will never be any argument against the importance of the Indy 500 itself, the decision to run the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” as a regular points-paying IndyCar race — not a double points race — for the first time in a decade has created a new most important weekend in the championship battle.
From 2014 to 2022, during the days of the Indy 500 being a double points race, there were other double points races contested. The season finales were double points races from 2014 to 2019, and the race at Pocono Raceway was a double points race in 2014 as a part of the “Triple Crown”, which also featured the Indy 500 and the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.
There were also doubleheaders during this nine-year stretch, including the annual doubleheader on Belle Isle every year from 2014 to 2021 (sans 2020).
There were doubleheaders at five different courses — Road America, Iowa Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course — throughout the COVID-19-restriction-influenced 2020 schedule, and there was another doubleheader at Iowa Speedway last year.
But at no point during that stretch was a race weekend truly more important than Indy 500 weekend in terms of the actual IndyCar championship battle.
Not since 2013 has a race weekend been more important in the championship battle than Indy 500 weekend, when three doubleheaders took place. Belle Isle, Toronto, and Houston each hosted a doubleheader that year, and full points were paid in each event.
This year, the Iowa Speedway race weekend stands alone as the most significant race weekend in the IndyCar championship fight.
Both Saturday afternoon’s Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart and Sunday afternoon’s Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade are full points-paying 250-lap races around the four-turn, 0.894-mile (1.439-kilometer) Newton, Iowa oval.
Not since 2011 has an IndyCar race not paid regular or double points, when two half-distance races were contested at Texas Motor Speedway. Half points were awarded in each, but that was a one-and-done situation that the series has no plans to reinstate at any venue.
NBC is set to broadcast the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart live from Iowa Speedway starting at 3:00 p.m. ET this coming Saturday, July 22, and it is set to broadcast the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade live starting at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 23. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and tune in!