For the first time since the 2013 season, the Indianapolis 500 will pay the same amount of points as the rest of the races on the schedule. The NTT INDYCAR Series issued a release on Thursday night confirming the news.
The series first adopted the move to a double points race for 2014. It was initially slated for the three 500-mile races run that season (Indianapolis, Pocono, Fontana). A year later, that was dropped in favor of double points for just the Indy 500 as well as the season finale.
That lasted through 2019. With a change in stewardship between the Hulman George Family to Roger Penske, the double points model was scrapped for the season finale but left alone for Indy.
That drew the ire of drivers and teams. Most favored a move away from double points for any race all together. Now, the move was finally made.
I get both sides of the coin here in a reason for it and against it. The race is the biggest of the season and should reward more points and money. Why not have this race stand out above the rest? It’s not just another race on the schedule. It’s bigger than that.
So, it should award double points.
Some drivers say, no. Will Power last year that he was strongly against it saying that the race should be double purse instead of double points. He says the intensity of winning this race wouldn’t matter if you gave 0 points.
However, I can put that quarter and rest it on my thumb and flick it over to the other side and say that it doesn’t merit double points too. Does the Daytona 500 or Monaco Grand Prix award more points than the other races on the NASCAR and F1 schedules respectively? Does the Super Bowl double points scored for touchdowns and field goals?
The problem with double points for Indy is two-fold. One-offs can steal some valuable points from full time entries. Also, it can hide the fact that someone had a bad season but got a top three or four at Indy can nullify some bad results later and keep them in the title race longer. It works reverse to someone who maybe had a heck of a season but didn’t get a top 10 or dare I say top 15 at Indy and cost them valuable points to a championship rival that did.
Indy essentially counts for two races and if you have a bad result, it can make or break your championship hopes down the road. Is that fair?
That’s why I see this on both sides and can see why it’s a debate. For fans, it absolutely adds to the intensity and pressure. That’s a win. For teams though, this race they already want to win at the most, do they need added pressure?
The other part is that we’ve not seen a driver win the championship and the Indy 500 in the same season since 2010. It’s only happened 5 times since the 1996 split at that. So, while winning the Indy 500 with double points now is great, it doesn’t mean a guaranteed title either. No driver has won Indy with double points and won the title in the same year.
“I think it’s good we’ve dropped the double points in the finale,” Newgarden said last year. “I was never a fan of that, and I’m still not quite a fan of the double points at Indy. But like I said, we know the rules, we know the landscape going in, so I don’t think we can fall back on that. It would be an endless discussion of saying if this went different or that went different, I could go down the road and cite a lot of examples, but we always end up where we are, and unfortunately we’re a little bit short this year.”