Bad tune-up for IndyCar's image The series made another puzzling decision this week, deciding it is going to give titles for the oval-course races as well as the road-course races in addition to the series title.
While the move is confusing, the timing of the announcement is baffling.
It's not something that will happen in 2011 or 2012. Nope. It's being put in this year – four races into the season.
While you have to applaud new Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard for trying to shake up a sport that is quickly becoming an afterthought in the U.S., it's a desperate move.
Bernard doesn't see it that way.
"I kept saying to myself we need to be able to deliver a consistent message about our sport that separates us from other forms of auto racing," Bernard said in a teleconference. "What hit me is that we have the fastest and most versatile drivers and race cars in the world – and no one can deny that – and now we have to show why we're the fastest and most versatile. We have 17 events, but how do we create better story lines?"
You create story lines by having stories to tell. NASCAR, despite its attendance and ratings slump, gets that. NASCAR fans can tell you something about every driver, and what the big story is every week.
They're able to do that without having to have championships within a championship. You don't see the Sprint Cup Series awarding titles for 1 ½ mile-tracks, superspeedways, short tracks and road courses.
All something like that does is add more confusion. A driver can win the oval championship. Another can win the road-course championship. Still a third could technically win the IndyCar Series championship.
The point system is retroactive to the season opener. Would that have made drivers race differently had they known a new championship was going to come into play four races into the season?
It's a dramatic start to the new points system, too. Will Power, who owns a 42-point lead over Helio Castroneves for the overall title, also leads Castroneves by 42 points in the road-course race because all four of the races have been on the streets.
And despite those three titles, the sport's biggest name is still the Indy 500 champion. That's certainly a lot of champions for a series that has a handful of names the casual sports fan has even heard of.
"I think it's kind of a side note," driver Ryan Hunter-Reay said. "Congratulations, you were the best in that category. But what really matters is the series championship and Indy 500."
The racing is good in IndyCar. But unless you're Danica Patrick, the series does nothing to promote the personalities.
That doesn't figure to change now. Now it's got to promote a contrived championship. Dallas Morning News