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After Laguna Seca
Rank Driver Points

1 Newgarden, Josef 641
2 Pagenaud, Simon 616
3 Rossi, Alexander 608
4 Dixon, Scott 578
5 Power, Will 550
6 Rosenqvist, Felix (R) 425
7 Herta, Colton (R) 420
8 Hunter-Reay, Ryan 420
9 Sato, Takuma 415
10 Rahal, Graham 389
11 Bourdais, Sebastien 387
12 Hinchcliffe, James 370
13 Ferrucci, Santino (R) 351
14 Pigot, Spencer 335
15 Kanaan, Tony 304
16 Andretti, Marco 303
17 Ericsson, Marcus (R) 290
18 Veach, Zach 271
19 Leist, Matheus 261
20 Jones, Ed 217
21 Harvey, Jack 186
22 Chilton, Max 184
23 Carpenter, Ed 161
24 Daly, Conor 149
25 Kimball, Charlie 117
26 O'Ward, Patricio (R) 115
27 Karam, Sage 39
28 Davison, James 36
29 Castroneves, Helio 33
30 Hanley, Ben (R) 31
31 Mann, Pippa 28
32 Kaiser, Kyle (R) 22
33 Hildebrand, JR 20
34 Servia, Oriol 16
35 Enerson, RC (R) 13
36 King, Jordan (R) 12

Rookie of Year Standings
1 Rosenqvist, Felix 425
2 Herta, Colton 420
3 Ferrucci, Santino 351
4 Ericsson, Marcus 290
5 O'Ward, Patricio 115
6 Hanley, Ben 31
7 Kaiser, Kyle 22
8 RC Enerson 13
9 King, Jordan 12

Manufacturer Standings
1. Honda 1436
2. Chevy 1387

IndyCar: New Markets Require New Thinking

by Stephen Cox
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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Ana Beatriz at Sao Paulo
More than 90% of American race drivers are oval specialists.

A brief review of active racetracks indicates that in the United States, ovals outnumber road courses by a margin of a little more than nine to one. Of course, racetracks open and close frequently, car counts vary, and a few competitors race on both types of courses. But generally speaking, the numbers don’t lie. By an overwhelming margin of more than 90%, the average American racer is an oval driver.

I do not fault IndyCar owners for their failure to hire these drivers. In their position, I wouldn’t either. IndyCar teams do not need oval drivers. There are only six ovals on the 2014 schedule and most are run flat out by IndyCar’s high downforce machines. No one needs a talented pilot who can hustle a sliding car through left hand turns when any marginally competent road racer can drive a car flat out around the entire track.

So IndyCar owners have exercised their only sensible option… they hire drivers from open wheel formula series. These series are popular in Europe, where road courses vastly outnumber ovals. The upper levels of these series are, generally speaking, prohibitively expensive. This limits participation to the very wealthy.

Franchitti and Sato.  The list of foreign drivers goes on
It comes as no surprise then that the IndyCar series is top-heavy with overseas talent while Americans are represented primarily by wealthy drivers or those born of racing royalty. Meanwhile, open wheel racing struggles for venues and sponsors and its ladder series have changed hands twice in two years.

This is a result of the existing formula and nothing else could have been expected. This formula essentially bans 90% of American race drivers from a realistic shot at competing and brings with it a host of unavoidable consequences.

For instance, only nine cars showed up for last year’s Indy Lights race in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, six hundred race teams showed up for Wisconsin’s Oktoberfest stock car festival. Thirty-four cars were on hand for last year’s Indianapolis 500 while 376 cars were at last week’s Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

These consequences also trickle down to attendance and sponsorship. The Chili Bowl has two legitimate title sponsors. The ARCA series has one. Even the regional CRA oval series has a genuine cash-paying title sponsor. IndyCar has none.

I’m not saying that IndyCar and its ladder series cannot survive, because they have and they will. But what you see is what you get. When 90% of the market is eliminated, what remains is a niche. Niche markets have limited growth potential.

Ultimately, this is a very simple game of numbers. No business can afford to alienate 9 out of every 10 potential partners. If the series wants to expand outside the niche and reach the other 90% of the market, it must tap into 90% of its drivers.

And – like it or not – they are on ovals. As the commercial below sums up - American drivers are only good at turning left.....a sad commentary in the NASCARization of America.

Stephen Cox
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN
#22 Acorn Cabinetry/Boschett Timepieces Chevrolet

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