INDIANAPOLIS — When this race was created for the 2014 season, it was made to spark some attention for the Month of May to draw more fans to the Indianapolis 500 as well as show the racing world that only cared about the ‘500 that there’s more to Indy Car racing outside of the famous race. They make right hand turns too.
Well, here we are seven years later and the event is still around. Last year, was a bit of an anomaly with this race being moved to July to run during the Brickyard weekend as well as having the Harvest Grand Prix ran in October, with an empty August for just the ‘500. But, we’re back to normal this month with the road course race this weekend and the ‘500 in two weeks.
In saying that, how hard is it to not look ahead to the oval action? We race on Saturday then turn around and hit this same track but going in the opposite direction and going only on the oval in three days after too.
The Indy 500 is still the pinnacle in motorsports, so when you’re at Indy, it’s hard not to look ahead and dream about what could come. An Indy 500 win puts you in racing immortality. It’s hard not to think about it.
In saying that, a championship is to be had this season too and this road course race is as important as any other in terms of the fight for a title. So, how hard is it to block everything out and focus on just this weekend?
“I’ve never been a big fan of the double points at the 500,” said Will Power. “I believe you should never be thinking of the championship when you’re racing to try to win that race. If you’re in the hunt to win it, not that you’re thinking of that, but if you’re fifth and you’re down the last stint, the last 10 laps, there’s no chance to win, you won’t fight as hard. You might consider just taking the points.
“Yeah, I just think it shouldn’t be double points, it should be normal points. It should be 100% about the race, shouldn’t be about the championship, in my opinion.
“Yeah, obviously like you said, massive stint in a short period of points coming up here. It will play a huge part in who’s going to be a contender at the end of the year.”
His Penske teammate in Josef Newgarden agreed.
“I think it’s still pretty early,” Newgarden said. “Even at Indianapolis. I completely agree with Will. I’ve not been a big fan of the double points scenario, both at Indy and the championship finale, quite frankly.
“Yeah, you’re not thinking of points at Indy until it’s over. Those come in moments. You think about qualifying, you’re always trying to be fast, always trying to be in the top nine shootout because you know there’s points there, but more so because you want to start up front in the race.
“You’re first thinking about doing well in the race, starting up front. Then after qualifying is done, then you think about the points implications. If you had a good qualifying, it helps you in points. If you didn’t have a good qualifying, you worry about what it did to you in points.
“The race is the same way. When you’re in the race, you’re thinking about doing as well as possible in this event. You get one shot at it every year. It’s such a big deal. You’re just trying to win the race.
“After the fact you kind of have to settle with whatever that was. If it was a winning day, it helps you tremendously in the points. If it wasn’t, then you’re feeling horrible about leaving there, being in a hole probably in the championship.
“Yeah, I don’t like it. I think Will brings up a good point. If you’re fifth or sixth, do something strategy-wise to win the event, you may not do that nowadays just because you don’t want to sacrifice the negative of losing a bunch of points if you get it wrong. I don’t like that element.
“For the most part you’re not thinking about championship when you’re in the event.”
Well, here we are ready for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix and four of your top six guys in points are starting 10th on back. This could most certainly close the gap even more as drivers are almost forced to think points today.