What If IndyCar Had Stage Points?
It is summer. IndyCar is off. Why not visit a mythical world where a spineless IndyCar does exactly what NASCAR does and implements stage points just to see what the championship would look like with four races to go?
I have gone back and given out stage points for the results of the top ten at laps closest to the quarter-mark and halfway point in the first 12 races of the season. I considered altering it for IndyCar because NASCAR gives out stage points to about a quarter of its grid while the top ten in IndyCar is close to half the grid but to keep it easy and straightforward I left it as the top ten. I didn't calculate playoff points because that is too big of a hassle because IndyCar doesn't do a Chase. If you want playoff points, figure out it on your own.
Here is the paragraph you can skip if you wish because it tells you what lap I used for each of the mythical stages. St. Petersburg: Lap 25 and 50. Long Beach: Lap 21 and 42. Barber: Lap 20 and 40. Phoenix: Lap 60 and 120. Grand Prix of Indianapolis: Lap 21 and 42. Indianapolis 500: Lap 50 and 100. Both Belle Isle races: Lap 15 and 30. Texas: Lap 62 and 124. Road America: Lap 13 and 26. Iowa: Lap 75 and 150. Toronto: Lap 21 and 42. Mid-Ohio: Lap 22 and 44.
And now what the running order was at each of those laps with three-letter driver abbreviations to save you some time reading.
STP stage one: HIN, DIX, SAT, NEW, PIG, RSI, CHI, JON, PAG, BOU
Stage two: BOU, PAG, JON, AND, HCN, SAT, HIN, RHR, HIL, DAL
LB stage one: RHR, HIN, RSI, RAH, BOU, PIG, DIX, PAG, NEW, HCN
Stage two: RHR, HIN, RSI, BOU, DIX, RAH, PIG, NEW, PAG, HCN
BMP stage one: POW, HCN, DIX, HIN, SAT, BOU, CHI, PIG, HIL, PAG
Stage two: POW, NEW, DIX, HCN, PAG, HIN, KAN, BOU, PIG, SAT
PHX stage one: HCN, NEW, POW, PAG, HIL, KAN, DIX, HIN, RSI, KIM
Stage two: POW, HCN, PAG, HIL, NEW, HIN, DIX, KAN, RSI, RHR
GPI stage one: POW, HCN, DIX, NEW, RHR, PAG, KIM, RAH, RSI, JPM
Stage two: HCN, DIX, POW, NEW, RHR, RSI, JPM, RAH, PAG, CHI
"500" stage one: ALO, RSI, SAT, CAR, KAN, HIL, RHR, DIX, HCN, AND
Stage two: HCN, RHR, RSI, ALO, KAN, RAH, CHI, NEW, POW, JPM
DET1 stage one: RAH, RSI, DIX, POW, DAL, ALE, HIL, HIN, SAT, JON
Stage two: HCN, RAH, SAT, RSI, HIN, DIX, ALE, PAG, POW, CHI
DET2 stage one: SAT, RAH, POW, PAG, ALE, RSI, DAL, KIM, MUÑ, GUT
Stage two: RAH, SAT, POW, PAG, NEW, KAN, RSI, DAL, MUÑ, DIX
TEX stage one: POW, VAU, DIX, PAG, KAN, ALE, CAR, JON, HCN, MUÑ
Stage two: POW, PAG, KAN, VAU, DIX, ALE, JON, MUÑ, HIL, AND
ROA stage one: NEW, DIX, HCN, KIM, POW, PAG, CHI, HIN, JON, RHR
Stage two: NEW, HCN, DIX, PAG, POW, KIM, CHI, HIN, RHR, JON
IOW stage one: HCN, POW, CAR, HIL, RAH, RHR, PAG, NEW, SAT, HIN
Stage two: HCN, POW HIL, RAH, RHR, NEW, HIN, PAG, KAN, CAR
TOR stage one: HCN, PAG, RAH, NEW, HIN, PIG, SAT, KAN, JON, AND
Stage two: NEW, RSI, HIN, AND, RHR, CHI, SAA, PAG, HCN, RAH
MOH stage one: NEW, POW, RAH, PAG, RSI, DIX, HCN, SAT, AND, HIN
Stage two: NEW, POW, RAH, RSI, PAG, HCN, SAT, HIN, DIX, AND
Here is a table of who has scored the most mythical stage points:
And here is a table of what the top twenty-four in the championship would look like after adding mythical stage points with number of positions changed from actual championship position:
|Driver||Championship Points||Change in Position|
There are a bunch of positions swapping and the gaps are larger between drivers. Castroneves would not be trailing Newgarden by seven points but rather leading him by 20 points (Castroneves would have scored in 21 of 26 stages through the first 13 races) and the top four of Newgarden, Castroneves, Dixon and Pagenaud would not be covered by 17 points but by 40 points.
It is subjective to decide whether that is a good thing or not but what I have noticed with stage points is all it really does is inflate the numbers of the drivers on top. In IndyCar's case, nobody would make a massive jump in the championship because of stage points. Hunter-Reay would be the only new drivers in the top ten of the championship but he would be 222 points behind the championship, 66 points more than his current gap to Newgarden.
If you take away stage points from the NASCAR championship standings, only one driver is different in the top ten but a few things are noticeable when you strip away the stage points as shown in the table below (Note: I used championship points totals and stage points totals from after the July 30th Pocono race).
|Driver||Points w/o Stage Points||Change in Position|
There are a few big movers when you take away stage points. Clint Bowyer jumps five spots; Daniel Suárez would have been tenth, up seven positions. The one thing to notice about Bowyer and Suárez are neither are near the top in stage points but both are near the top when it comes to bringing the car home in one piece. Boywer was 15th in stage points after Pocono on 66 points while Suárez was tied with Paul Menard for fewest stage points scored of those to have picked up stage points at four points. What stage points dilute is the fact that Suárez was running at the finish of 20 of the first 21 races, tied with Michael McDowell for the most, and his lone retirement was in the Daytona 500. Bowyer was running at the finish of 19 of the first 21 races. Bowyer was tied for second-most lead lap finishes with 17 and Suárez had 16 lead lap finishes as many as Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. Finally, of the drivers who started all of the first 21 races, Bowyer had the sixth-best average finish at 13.1 and Suárez had the tenth-best average finish at 15.1.
With a few bigger movers up, there are a few big movers down, including Brad Keselowski (-4) and Jimmie Johnson, -3 despite having three victories. Ryan Blaney would lose seven spots. Keselowski and Johnson both failed to finish five of the first 21 races, tied for the most of the drivers in the top twelve in the championship after Pocono and Blaney had only finished one more race than those two. Keselowski's average finish of 13.3, as well as his 11 top five finishes and 14 top ten finishes, would save him but Johnson and Blaney had average finishes of 16.9 and 19.4 respectively. Besides Blaney, only Kurt Busch had a worse average finish than Johnson in the top 15 and Blaney had the worst average finish of the top 20 after Pocono. Keselowski and Johnson had only 15 lead lap finishes from the first 21 races while Blaney only finished on the lead lap in ten of the first 21 races. Johnson and Blaney had as many top ten finishes as Suárez (7) through the first 21 races.
The other noticeable thing is how close things would be at the top without stage points. After Pocono, Truex, Jr. led the championship by 85 points over Kyle Larson, was 97 points ahead of Kevin Harvick and 298 points separate him from Joey Logano in 13th. Taking away the stage points, Truex, Jr. would be level with Harvick and 99 points would cover the top 13 in the championship.
Not that the driver standings matter. It is all washed away after Richmond in a few weeks time, but if all stage points are doing is spreading out the heard, than is it really an improvement? Stages have encouraged teams to try different strategies within a race but I don't think it does enough to justify its existence. The top five in stage points after Pocono were the top five in the championship at that time. The twelve drivers who have won a stage this season were all in the top 13 in the championship, the lone exception was Jamie McMurray in eighth. Eleven of the top 12 had scored stage points more than 20 times; the lone exception was Bowyer in tenth. Of the 28 drivers to score stage points from the first 21 races, 18 of the drivers had scored stage points at least ten times. Five of the 28 drivers scored stage points twice or fewer.
I don't know what the point of this was. This was a big tangent away from a mythical world where IndyCar had stage points. This turned more into a dissection of stage points more than anything else. I have not been particularly enamored with stage points and I still believe fewer points should be awarded than are now, not just in NASCAR but IndyCar as well. A championship should be about results and stage points have become a mask for poor results by rewarding a driver too often.
Champions From the Weekend
The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca of Pato O'Ward and James French clinched the IMSA Prototype Challenge class championship at Road America as the Mexican-American duo won its seventh consecutive race this season with only Petit Le Mans in October remaining on the PC schedule.
Winners From the Weekend
You know about Marc Márquez and what happened in PC from Elkhart Lake but did you know...
Thomas Lüthi won the Moto2 race from Brno. Joan Mir won in Moto3, his sixth victory of the season.
Martin Truex, Jr. won the NASCAR Cup race from Watkins Glen. Kyle Busch won the Grand National Series race.
The #22 Extreme Speed Motorsports Nissan Onroak DPi of Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek won the IMSA race from Road America, ending Cadillac's seven race winning streak. The #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller won in GTLM. The #96 Turner Motorsport BMW of Jens Klingman and Jesse Krohn won in GTD.
The #8 ARTA Honda NSX of Tomoki Nojiri and Takashi Kobayashi won the Super GT race from Fuji. The #55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 of Sean Walkinshaw and Shinichi Takagi won in GT300.
Coming Up This Weekend
MotoGP heads to Austria.
NASCAR returns to Michigan.
Pirelli World Challenge runs the penultimate SprintX weekend of the season at Utah Motorsports Campus.