Indy Car Series: One Champion Is Not Enough

No NameAnalyst IApril 28, 2010

HOMESTEAD, FL - OCTOBER 10: Dario Franchitti climbs aboard the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda before the start of the IRL IndyCar Series Firestone Indy 300 on October 10, 2009 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)
Darrell Ingham/Getty Images

At the end of last season, Dario Franchitti stood alone on top of the podium as he received his Championship hardware.

This might not be the case for this year's Champ.

The Indy Car Series will now reward points winners on its two racing disciplines; oval courses, and street and road courses, awarding their own titles this season in addition to crowning an overall points champion.

The chase for the road/street course title will end Aug. 22 at Infineon Raceway in California. The oval course chase will end Sept. 19 in Motegi, Japan. The season finale, Oct. 2 at Homestead, Fla., will recognize the overall champion. Each of the winning drivers and teams will earn bonuses.

The format is the same as it is for the overall championship, as the points accrued on the tracks will count for both the overall title and a sub-title. So, it is feasible that a driver could win the overall title and both sub-titles. Or, a driver could win both sub-titles and not the overall championship.

That would be somewhat strange, but the season finale at Homestead is excluded from the oval championship, allowing the overall championship to take center stage.

Therefore, a driver could win the road title and oval title by a combined five points, but then finish 25 points behind his closest competitor at Homestead to lose the overall championship.

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Danica Patrick's best chance to win some hardware during her time in the Indy Car series is the oval championship due to her lack of success on the series road and street courses.

Conspiracy theorists will likely claim the sub-titles were created with Patrick in mind, because as the series' biggest marketing phenomenon, the series looks more legitimate when its star driver has more hardware.

If you really believe that though, it's a bit of a catch 22 for the Series.

Given Partick's recent foray into stock cars, theoretically, more success in the Indy Car Series increases the odds that she moves to NASCAR full time. And while it may be annoying that Patrick seemingly gets more coverage than the rest of the Indy Car Series field combined, that's publicity that the Series loses if Patrick makes a permanent switch.

This comes as a surprise to most Indy Car fans, and we will just have to wait and play everything out to see if it was overall a good move, or a bad one.

Personally, I don't think separating the season into different categories is going to be beneficial to the series in any way, but if it draws in a few more fans and publicity, I am all for it.

The Indy Car Series is at Kansas Motor Speedway for this Saturday's race, before heading off to Indianapolis for the greatest month of the racing season.