Welcome to the start of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar series!! While I could sit and tell you every little thing that I think we should be on the lookout for, I won’t waste your time! Sadly, moving has dictated the schedule this week and is a key reason why I have missed the last two shows. I will be your Verizon IndyCar Series contributor this year and look forward to engaging with the fans over the next few months on our great series!
The first major change comes from the schedule. As I stated above, I look forward to being with you just a few months. Why so short? Well I’m glad you asked! This weekend marks the start of the season. Flash forward to August and we are going to be talking about who the 2014 champion is! In an attempt to bring back some ratings and finish before the hype of the NFL kicks into full gear, the season has been compressed to end early. This has not sat well with too many fans who already have to wait seemingly a lifetime for on-track action.
The series will remain a North American affair as the Brazilian round has been axed for this season. It was reported the round was closed out for 2014 due to road construction in the area, but series officials are working to get Brazil back for 2015. The race is contracted to run until 2019.
2014 also will introduce the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This somewhat controversial event will open up the month of May and usher in the Indianapolis 500. What about tracks people want to see you ask? While nothing concrete as of now, hopes are maybe 2015 will bring in some classic circuits that fans have been clamoring for.
The championship points have changed as well. While we had mentioned a number of times that IndyCar had a championship that was “pure” in the sense there were no super points, power stage points, or double points races, we were proven wrong. In an attempt to add more emphasis on the 500 mile events, we get double points 500 mile races!!! Best. Idea. Ever. (said no one ever) It was not enough that the series reintroduced the Triple Crown, but now the Triple Crown races are double points. I say why stop there? Let’s make the races worth TRIPLE POINTS!!! That way we can go ahead and one up both NASCAR and Formula 1. In all seriousness though, I am not too upset about this. There are six oval races on the calendar, let’s make the 500 mile events count. It is a true test of both man and machine and should be compensated as such in the championship.
The Indianapolis 500 will also award points for its qualifications. The winner of pole position will now gain 33 points and each position will be one point less on down the order. It certainly enhances qualifying, but at the end of the day…why do we need it? How about people run for pole position to have the prestige of obtaining arguably one of the hardest starting spots in motorsport? I am not trying to be a traditionalist if you will, but by making the position worth points, I think you decrease the value that prestige brings. The position is no longer good enough, it has to be worth something in the championship picture, which is completely bogus in my eyes.
As with any offseason, some names and faces have changed in regards to talent. The series is also stuck looking for a new face. With Dario Franchitti forced to retire after his monster crash last season, there is a void for a name like Kanaan, Castroneves, Montoya, or Andretti to fill. Maybe that person could be Graham Rahal who just picked up the National Guard as primary sponsor. Perhaps Takuma Sato can bring the Foyt name back to households across America. Can Will Power finally win the title and put Penske Racing back at the top of IndyCar? Only time will tell and we are in for a huge summer as the Verizon IndyCar Series prepares for launch this weekend in St. Petersburg.