Should Race 2 at Toronto Be Started Using Road Course Points?

The scene at yesterday’s Toronto race, in Toronto, Canada.
Source:  Oregon Herald

Race 2 of Toronto later today is going to be started based on drivers points after the first race.  So in other words, whichever driver leads the championship after race one (Helio Castroneves) will start on pole.  No qualifying will happen because of both races being moved to Sunday.  But that begs the question, if they want the best drivers at the front, why not set the grid based on road course points?  

If you didn’t know, IndyCar keeps track of road course points for each year. They also do one for ovals and these competitions are separate from the overall championship leader.  This is meant to provide another competition to drivers, but it seems they aren’t using these points to their full advantage.

This would be a seemingly easy fix to the problem drivers have that only run road courses (Mike Conway).  Conway is 23rd in the Championship standings because he hasn’t raced in four of the races the other guys have.  Now you may be thinking four races isn’t much, but there are possible 216 points up for grabs over the course of these four races, and even more as we’ll see.  To put that in perspective, positions 1-15 of the driver’s championship are separated by just 227 points. These points are very valuable and can be the difference between a championship win or not. His team knows this too and expressed their confusion earlier this morning (below).

If we take a look at Conway in the road course standings, he jumps up to 16th, a 7 place difference.  Even though it’s not a last to first place jump, at least the grid positions would be fair to all drivers and not punish those who choose not to run the ovals.  The points are all readily available to IndyCar, so when qualifying can’t be completed, why punish some of the drivers? 

Note: To “make up” for Conway’s significantly less points they are adding Ed Carpenter’s points to his and basing the grid position off of their combined totals. 

Going in to the standings, we see the difference in position wouldn’t only come to Conway, most of the drivers would gain or lose positions:

Justin Wilson is 14th in the championship, not a great starting position on a tough track like Toronto.  But as we look at the road course standings Wilson moves up to P8, a significant advantage in the race.  This is a case where using road course points would benefit a driver.  

Some drivers won’t be so lucky, 6th place in the championship driver Carlos Munoz would be back down in 18th.  A killer 12 place grid drop would definitely change his race strategy, and chance at a championship.  But if he isn’t good on street courses, he shouldn’t start up top with the better drivers.  

Another note about the oval courses that favors the drivers who do well in them: double points in 500 mile races.  In the Indianapolis and Pocono races double points were awarded. Conway had no chance to get points in those races and now there is a bonus for those who do. No road course or street track offers double points, it is making the grid for today’s second race in-accurate to the intentions of IndyCar.  

Setting the grid based on road course points is a way to even up the situation when qualifying just can’t happen.  The way IndyCar will set up the grid today is meant to put the best drivers at the front, but the data shows that the drivers starting up front aren’t all really the best.  Starting with road course points is the only way to get accurate and fair grid positions set for all drivers. 

 – Drew Bennison

Check out this link to see where your driver would end up if IndyCar started Toronto Race 2 using the road course standings.

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