INDYCARNATION

Dual contests complement series title

By Dave Lewandowski

27 Apr 2010

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Additional elements of excitement and competition, plus the heightened intrigue of dual contests within the driver championship chase, have been slipped into the IZOD IndyCar Series season by the sanctioning body.

The Indy Racing League will recognize oval and road/street champions -- in addition to the series' overall titlist -- with bonuses presented to both category champions. Purses will be announced later. The current championship points system will be utilized, with the highest-scoring oval and road/street drivers earning the titles.

The move came a year late for Dario Franchitti, who collected the $1 million bonus for winning the 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series championship and also would have pocketed the bonus for accumulating the most points on road/street courses. But there's still time this year.

Click it: Q&A with Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard about the system

The road title will culminate on Aug. 22 at Infineon Raceway, while the oval contest will conclude Sept 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. The Oct. 2 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be reserved to honor the overall IZOD IndyCar Series champion.

Year Most oval pts. Most road/street pts.
'09 Scott Dixon - 406 Dario Franchitti - 270
'08 Scott Dixon - 482 Helio Castroneves - 233
'07 Dario Franchitti - 463 Scott Dixon - 217
'06 Dan Wheldon - 415 Scott Dixon - 125
'05 Dan Wheldon - 536 Tony Kanaan - 133

“The IZOD IndyCar Series offers one of the most challenging and diverse schedules in all of motorsports,” said Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League. “We want to recognize the drivers that master the disciplines that make up this sport as they pursue the ultimate prize – the IZOD IndyCar Series championship.  We feel this platform will give added value to key events on our schedule and create more momentum behind the drivers and teams that excel on at ovals and road races.”

Fans will have an opportunity to select the name of the trophies awarded to both the oval and road champion, which will honor legends of the sport. Media representatives will be asked to nominate the greatest oval and road racers of all time. From those nominations, the top five nominees from each discipline will be posted to a fan vote at www.indycar.com in late May through early June. The league will work with the legends to secure the rights to names for the trophies.

The oval trophy honoree will be announced during the IZOD IndyCar Series event weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, while the road trophy honoree will be revealed at Watkins Glen International.
 
“The sport of Indy car racing has such a long and storied legacy of so many accomplished legends that we feel this is a great way to honor their accomplishments,” Bernard said.  “Many of our current drivers admire these legends so why not have them vie for a trophy named in honor of the drivers they strive to emulate.”

Nine road/street races on the 2010 schedule constitute the road championship, with scoring retroactive to the season opener. Through the first four road/street events – Brazil, St. Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach – Will Power holds a 42-point cushion over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.

Races remaining include Watkins Glen International (July 4), streets of Toronto (July 18), Edmonton City Centre Airport (July 25), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 8) and Infineon Raceway (Aug. 22). The IZOD IndyCar Series integrated road/street course races into its 2005 schedule.

The equally challenging and competitive package of races eligible for the oval championship kick off May 1 with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at the 1.5-mile, variably-banked Kansas Speedway. Succeeding oval races will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (May 30), Texas Motor Speedway (June 5), Iowa Speedway (June 20), Chicagoland Speedway (Aug. 28), Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 4) and Twin Ring Motegi (Sept. 19).

"I think it's great to highlight the fact that we do have two completely different disciplines of racing within one series," said Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is third in the championship standings on the benefit of a victory at Long Beach and runner-up finish in Brazil. "It's the only racing series in the world that does that with the street courses, road courses, mile-and-a-half super speedways, and short ovals.

"So it's great to highlight that and give it some recognition, but really what matters is winning is the Indy 500 and winning the series championship."

Fans can follow the leaders of all three title races on www.indycar.com.


 

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