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2014 Standings
After Pocono
Driver Standings

1 Will Power 446
2 Helio Castroneves 446
3 Simon Pagenaud 402
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 391
5 Ryan Hunter-Reay 388
6 Carlos Munoz (R) 340
7 Marco Andretti 325
8 Scott Dixon 297
9 Ryan Briscoe 285
10 Sebastien Bourdais 271
11 Tony Kanaan 267
12 James Hinchcliffe 266
13 Mikhail Aleshin 263
14 Justin Wilson 253
15 Charlie Kimball 239
16 Jack Hawksworth 227
17 Carlos Huertas (R) 224
18 Josef Newgarden 220
19 Graham Rahal 202
20 Sebastian Saavedra 196
21 Takuma Sato 189
22 Mike Conway 152
23 Ed Carpenter 138
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch (R) 80
26 JR Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam (R) 57
28 James Davison (R) 34
29 Jacques Villeneuve 29
30 Alex Tagliani 28
31 Luca Filippi 24
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman (R) 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8

Rookie of the Year
1 Carlos Munoz 340
2 Mikhail Aleshin 263
3 Jack Hawksworth 217
4 Carlos Huertas 204
5 Kurt Busch 80
6 Sage Karam 57
7 James Davison 34
8 Martin Plowman 18

Wins
T1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 2
T1 Will Power 2
T1 Simon Pagenaud 2
T4 Mike Conway 1
T4 Helio Castroneves 1
T4 Carlos Huertas 1
T4 Ed Carpenter 1
T4 Juan Pablo Montoya 1

Podium Finishes
T1 Will Power 5
T1 Helio Castroneves 5
2 Ryan Hunter-Reay 4
T3 Carlos Munoz 3
T3 Juan Pablo Montoya 3
T6 Marco Andretti 2
T6 Simon Pagenaud 2
T8 Mike Conway 1
T8 Carlos Huertas 1
T8 Scott Dixon 1
T8 Tony Kanaan 1
T8 Graham Rahal 1
T8 Charlie Kimball 1
T8 Ed Carpenter 1
T8 Jack Hawksworth 1
T8 Mikhail Aleshin 1

Lap Leaders:
1 Will Power 348
2 Helio Castroneves 174
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay 165
4 Ed Carpenter 116
5 Tony Kanaan 79
6 Juan Pablo Montoya 74
7 Takuma Sato 67
8 James Hinchcliffe 56
9 Simon Pagenaud 53
10 Jack Hawksworth 32
11 Scott Dixon 27
12 Marco Andretti 22
13 Justin Wilson 20
14 Sebastian Saavedra 14
15 Graham Rahal 10
16 Mike Conway 8
17 Josef Newgarden 8
T18 Oriol Servia 7
T18 Carlos Huertas 7
19 Ryan Briscoe 5
20 Mikhail Aleshin 4
21 Alex Tagliani 3
22 Sebastien Bourdais 2

Entrant Points
Pos. # Entrant Points
1 12 Team Penske 446
2 3 Team Penske 446
3 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports 402
4 2 Team Penske 391
5 28 Andretti Autosport 388
6 34 Andretti Autosport/HVM 340
7 25 Andretti Autosport 325
8 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 297
9 20 Ed Carpenter Racing 290
10 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing 285
11 11 KVSH Racing 271
12 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 267
13 27 Andretti Autosport 266
14 7 SMP Racing 263
15 19 Dale Coyne Racing 253
16 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 239
17 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian 227
18 18 Dale Coyne Racing 224
19 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 220
20 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 202
21 17 KV/AFS Racing 196
22 14 A.J. Foyt Racing 189
23 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 112
24 26 Andretti Autosport 88
25 21 Ed Carpenter Racing 66
26 22 Dreyer and Reinbold 57
27 33 KV Racing Technology 34
28 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 29
29 68 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 28
30 6 KV Racing Technology 22
31 63 Dale Coyne Racing 21
32 41 A.J. Foyt Racing 18
33 91 Lazier Partners Racing 11

Finishing Average
1 Helio Castroneves 5.81
2 Kurt Busch 6.00
3 Will Power 6.09
4 Simon Pagenaud 6.72
5 Sage Karam 9.00
6 J.R. Hildebrand 10.00
T7 Scott Dixon 10.18
T7 Carlos Munoz 10.18
9 Juan Pablo Montoya 10.45
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay 10.72
11 Ryan Briscoe 11.75
12 Marco Andretti 12.125
13 Carlos Munoz 12.375
T14 Oriol Servia 12.5
T14 Justin Wilson 12.5
16 Alex Tagliani 13.0
17 Sebastien Bourdais 13.25
18 Charlie Kimball 13.625
19 Mike Conway 13.66
T20 Jacques Villeneuve 14.0
T20 Ed Carpenter 14.0
22 Carlos Huertas 14.25
23 Mikhail Aleshin 14.875
24 James Hinchcliffe 15.125
T25 Takuma Sato 15.5
T25 Jack Hawksworth 15.5
27 Sebastian Saavedra 15.75
28 James Davison 16.00
29 Josef Newgarden 16.375
30 Graham Rahal 16.625
31 Martin Plowman 20.5
32 Franck Montagny 22.0
33 Pippa Mann 24.0
34 Townsend Bell 25.0
35 Buddy Lazier 32.0

Pole Positions
T1 Takuma Sato 2
T1 Will Power 2
T1 Helio Castroneves 2
T4 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
T4 Sebastian Saavedra 1
T4 Ed Carpenter 1
T4 Simon Pagenaud 1
T4 Juan Pablo Montoya 1

Appearances in the Firestone Fast Six
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 4
T2 Scott Dixon 3
T2 Will Power 3
T2 James Hinchcliffe 3
T2 Helio Castroneves 3
T2 Jack Hawksworth 3
T7 Simon Pagenaud 2
T7 Josef Newgarden 2
T9 Takuma Sato 1
T9 Marco Andretti 1
T9 Sebastien Bourdais 1
T9 Tony Kanaan 1
T9 Sebastian Saavedra 1
T9 Mike Conway 1
T9 Juan Pablo Montoya 1
T9 Ryan Briscoe 1
IndyCar's TV Deal - beneath the surface of ratings

by Scott Morris
Friday, November 06, 2009

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Scott Morris
Here in the AutoRacing1.com (AR1) offices, we have debates about all kinds of things. One day it will be how bad one of us thinks Lewis Hamilton choked, while ignoring an amazing drive the week before. Then when that person's favorite driver blows it, it was an "unfortunate incident". If course it is all in good fun and exchange.

However, there has been one topic that we seemed to see eye-to-eye on up until recently; the IRL Versus television package. As part of an overall $10 Million package with $4 Million per year coming from Versus, and the other $6 Million from ABC for the Indy 500 and a couple of select events, Versus has produced some of the best broadcasts we have seen...for those of us who tuned-in.

With the dismal Nielsen ratings from this year on Versus, showing an overall decline in viewership of 28 percent (75% if you just look at Versus), all of us around here have cried that this is the death of open wheel racing. If a racing series does not have sufficient TV coverage to provide a measurable return for sponsors, it will just become a playground for a bunch of rich guys who can afford to blow $10 Million per year just for kicks (I think they call that Vintage racing)

If that was compelling for a sports fan, polo would be huge.

Well, my view took a major shift when I was covering the Miami IRL race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. During that weekend, there was a fairly low profile press conference with IRL President Terry Angstadt and Versus President Jamie Davis Terry. As I sat there eating my barbecue lunch and waiting for the GrandAm race to start, I have to admit that I wasn't paying particularly close attention. But since the press conference stage is directly in the press room at HMS, it's hard to miss (good idea by the way guys)

So I started to absorb this, and even posed the tough question about dismal ratings that wasn't yet being asked, and I got some interesting answers that started to shift my view a bit.

So to illustrate this, let's start with a metaphor. Let's say you once were the president of a business that had seen its better days. You moved on to another job in a family-owned company. You are there for several years and you make a livable paycheck and have decent benefits. But you know that you will never have the opportunity to run that company because you are not part of the bloodline. So do you just stay there and hang on to what you have, with little to no chance of being able to get back to the leadership position you really should have? Let's then say you have an opportunity to take a position with a new and growing company, with better pay and benefits, but a questionable future with their new product. Which do you take? I think a lot of people would stick with the safe route. But the people who succeed always seem to be the ones who, at some point, took the calculated risk for a bigger future.

Let's tie this into the IRL's situation a little over two years ago. They were buying time on ESPN, and getting a few races covered by network TV as part of that deal. Their ratings were quite low; so low that it started to make the series tough to justify for many sponsors (though compared to Versus right now, the ESPN ratings were huge). So last year, with a unified series and no confusion for the fans, the IRL knew they needed a network that cared more about their product than simply getting a check out of them. They needed a network that values their form of sports entertainment, and was willing to make a commitment to them. They needed to be the star, not the bench-warmer.

Along came Versus. They were willing to pay for the programming, and do the production. They were willing to showcase IndyCar as their premium programming. That's a huge turnaround from the "other deal" and it would have caught anyone's attention; especially at time when the IRL has to start making some dough or close up the bakery.

A lot of people think that they were being penny-wise and pound foolish, because paying for time on the more established network that has the potential to reach many more viewers, would seem to be the obvious choice.

Taking in the press conference that day, it became more clear to me that there was more to this Versus deal than meets the eye. To me, it wasn’t even about TV really. It was about a philosophy shift.

I have criticized open wheel racing for years about their habit of watering the leaves of the tree, and not the roots; of looking at today’s results instead of what you can build months and years down the road.

Versus knows very well that they don’t have the reach of ESPN. But the IRL also knew that without a more committed network partner, they would just be an after thought and struggle to pull an extra 1/10 point now and again.

Because the IRL was buying their time, there was minimal promotion by the network across their other sports programming like SportsCenter (especially another unnamed racing series that is known for their control over programming and media)

One thing that Jamie and Terry kept talking about was "cross-pollination" and "super-serving" the viewer. These are interesting catch phrases for sure, and something we were not seeing (or would not be likely to ever see) with the other network.

So I think they made a decision based on Versus' huge commitment to the IRL, and seeing potential in where that network can go. I also had a hunch that they might have also known some other things taking place in the boardroom, that the viewers and fans would never see.

We have seen this in recent rumors about a possible takeover of NBC by Comcast, the owner of Versus. This could lead to some much bigger things for the IRL...down the road, with a network that has a big investment in IndyCar, and doesn't carry NASCAR races. So the IRL would be free to build their own house, outside of that shadow.

So with these things in mind, it doesn't seem like it was such a completely thoughtless deal after all.

In the cases of the NHL and Tour de France, Versus has built the viewership of these properties to higher levels than they were seeing before they switched to Versus. I think some people in the IRL front office think that can happen with IndyCar too. Apparently they are not the only ones who agree, because despite lower TV ratings, they just signed their first title sponsor in several years with IZOD.

The only way we will know, is if three or four years down the road, the IRL is pulling 3.0 rating for their races. Could that come on Versus itself? I doubt it in this day and age because there are just so many channels and choices out there. But could they pull that kind of rating on NBC? Of course they could, with a commitment like Versus has made.

We all agree that this year's broadcast quality has been the best we have ever seen. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this from everyone I talk to. Without that, we would have nothing.

So let's all just do our part and watch and be the fans we are, and see how this whole thing pans out.

Even if they only ever get back up to the same rating they had on the other network (which were not good enough anyway), at least they are getting paid for this deal. That is really a double benefit, because they were bleeding cash in the other deal. Personally, I think that makes this a good decision either way.

Let me punctuate all of this by saying I have no idea if I think this deal will prove to be fruitful or not when it comes to ratings, and sponsors that value those ratings. Only time will tell. What I can say, is that I like the forward thinking behind it, and the willingness to take a calculated gamble for a big payoff. After all, that is what racing is about, isn't it?

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