Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, IndyCar, Watkins Glen, 2016

Crash puts IndyCar title decider in doubt

Weekend Racing WrapPosted on | Author Bradley Downton

Only two drivers remain in contention for the IndyCar championship heading into the final race – but one may be unable to race in the finale following a crash at Watkins Glen yesterday.

And following Sunday’s World Touring Car Championship races in Japan that title could be decided by the widely-expected cancellation of the penultimate round of the season in Thailand.

Last weekend also saw the World Endurance Championship return to Mexico City and World Rallycross action in France.

Indycar

Round 15 of 16: Watkins Glen

Start, IndyCar, Watkins Glen, 2016
IndyCar returned to former US GP venue Watkins Glen
Will Power was already on the back foot in his championship fight with Simon Pagenaud at Watkins Glen when he was tagged from behind by Charlie Kimball and made heavy contact with the barrier at turn four. Although he was released from the medical centre he has not yet been cleared to race in the season finale at Sonoma a week on Sunday.

Pagenaud, who brought his Penske home seventh, will automatically become champion if Power is unable to race at Sonoma. He left New York State 43 points ahead of Power with 104 available in the double points finale. Race winner Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves, who took third, are 104 points behind and cannot beat Pagenaud on count-back of wins.

Dixon dominated proceedings at the Glen, scoring his fourth win in seven appearances at the track. He re-passed Castroneves at the final restart thanks to his Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan slowing in front of the Penske driver before diving for the pits. Dixon then picked off the remaining cars and wove his usual fuel-sipping magic over the remainder of the stint.

None of his pursuers could get close to the blend of speed and fuel economy the reigning champion could manage. Josef Newgarden pushed late on to take second ahead of Castroneves, who had to make a splash-and-dash pit stop. James Hinchcliffe lost a podium finish when he ran out of fuel and Conor Daly slipped to fourth place ahead of Sebastien Bourdais.

A furious Power slated Kimball’s driving after the race but the Ganassi pilot did help him in one small way: he beat Pagenaud to sixth. But after missing the opening race of the season due to ‘concussion-like symptoms’ there is a real concern his season may end the same way and take his championship hopes along with it.

World Endurance Championship

Round 5 of 9: Mexico

Mark Webber scored his first Formula One victory at the Nurburgring seven years ago after receiving a drive-through penalty. His victory in Mexico City on Saturday with Porsche team mate Brendon Hartly and Timo Bernhard came in similar circumstances, as the team were penalised for cutting the pit exit line.

The #1 Porsche had led from early in the second hour until the penalty following an aborted stop two hours later. This handed the lead to Audi’s Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis. However during a mid-race rain shower a front left wheel bearing failed on the R18, sending Jarvis into the turn one barrier.

Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer brought their Audi home second as Benoit Treluyer sitting out the race due to injury. The Toyota of Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi completed the podium.

Anthony Davidson was also absent due to injury leaving Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to do the work in Toyota’s number five car, though it went out in the second hour with a hybrid power unit problem.

World Touring Car Championship

Round 9 (Races 17 and 18 of 24): Japan

Formula E-bound Jose Maria Lopez has provisionally won his third and final World Touring Car Championship title after finishing second in the main race at Motegi. He was on course for the victory but allowed team mate Yvan Muller through in the closing stages to hand his team mate his first win of the season, in a gesture of gratitude to Muller who allowed him to win at home in Argentina.

Norbert Michelisz took the victory in the opening reverse grid race (first video) ahead of Rob Huff and Tiago Monteiro to lead Honda’s first one-two-three, at their home round. Starting tenth, Lopez had to fight through the field, but was lucky to avoid unscathed when he shoved Nicky Catsburg wide on lap nine. Catsburg aggressively rejoined and hit Lopez, with both cars shedding carbon fibre but continuing.

Lopez scorched away at the start of the main race (second video) and was set for an easy victory until he allowed Muller through, but second was still enough to claim the title. Monteiro once again took the third step on the podium in a relatively static race.

World Rallycross Championship

Round 8 of 12: France

Johan Kristoffersson claimed his first win of the season in France, as home favourite Sebastien Loeb made the podium in third. Andreas Bakkerud split the pair to close on the championship lead, which is now held by Petter Solberg – who finished fourth – five points ahead of Mattias Ekstrom, whose race was ruined in the semi-final when he picked up a puncture.

NASCAR

Round 25 of 36: Darlington Raceway

The penultimate race before the Chase for the Cup saw Kevin Harvick take victory at Darlington. Truex hit the front after Haas racer Kevin Harvick was twice delayed by slow pit stops.

Also last weekend

Antonio Giovinazzi, Raffaele Marciello, GP2, Monza, 2016
Giovinazzi passed Marciello on the lat lap to win
Nico Rosberg won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after jumping team mate Lewis Hamilton at the start following a poor getaway from the world champion. Hamilton recovered to second as Sebastian Vettel joined the Mercedes pair on the podium, much to the delight of the Tifosi.

Pierre Gasly looked set to extend his GP2 championship lead as he drew clear in the GP2 feature race until the Safety Car wrecked his advantage. Gasly was disadvantaged after the Medical Car was scrambled after Sergio Canamasas rolled his car following contact with Arthur Pic. That handed an opportunity to Antonio Giovinazzi – who started 21st having been excluded from qualifying – to win courtesy of a last-lap pass on Raffaele Marciello. Norman Nato won the sprint race from Gasly, while Giovinazzi completed the podium. With four races remaining Gasly holds a ten-point championship lead over Giovinazzi.

In GP3 championship leader Charles Leclerc also took pole, but was muscled down to fourth in the first race by British trio; Jake’s Dennis and Hughes, split by Jack Aitken. However sixth for Alexander Albon and eighth for Antonio Fuoco allowed Leclerc to extend his advantage. Race two was a different story however as he wiped out of contention by team mate Nirei Fukuzumi. McLaren junior Nyck de Vries went on to take his maiden win ahead of Albon and Fuoco, and Leclerc’s lead stands at 24 points with two rounds to go.

A thrilling Moto GP race at Silverstone produced another first-time winner – the fourth in the last five races – as Maverick Vinales triumphed. It was also the first for Suzuki since 2007. Cal Crutchlow followed up his maiden win last time out with pole at his home circuit and came home second, while Valentino Rossi completed the podium.

Over to you

Stoffel Vandoorne, Super Formula, Motegi, 2016
Vandoorne has five races left in Super Formula
What did you make of the action this weekend. Or did you watch anything thrilling that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Next weekend 2017 McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne returns to action in a Japanese Super Formula double-header at TI Aida. Lance Stroll, who is tipped to join Williams next year in place of Felipe Massa, will seek to extend his European F3 championship lead at the Nurburgring, where the category is supporting the DTM. Formula V8 3.5 will race at the Red Bull Ring and NASCAR drivers will have their last chance to enter the Chase for the Cup at Richmond.

there is Super Formula, Euro F3, , NASCAR and DTM.

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15 comments on “Crash puts IndyCar title decider in doubt”

  1. I thought 25 points for a win is already a bit ridiculous. It seems like a bit of an inflation in points currency, but I do understand the need to better spread points down to 10th place these days.
    But WOW, 104 points on offer in one race!? Why not 500? I mean, it’s ridiculous, it just makes the whole thing seem messy and difficult to follow. It hurts fan engagement. Who’s gonna follow all those numbers and be captivated with the possibilities, when you need a calculator just to figure out who won what in just one race. Let alone over a couple of races. Why not just dial it down a bit. Put some round numbers. Even 25 is a bit too much. Why not 20 for the win and degrade it down from that. I understand that for practical reasons (and I agree as mentioned with today’s reliability levels and a need to award points proportionally down to 10th place) we can’t have a nice 10-per-win system, but there’s got to be a better way than all those ridiculous numbers these days.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      5th September 2016, 16:44

      My preferred system would be 15-11-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.
      That way, it’s reverse points for the top ten, plus an extra point for each step of the podium, plus a further 2 points for the win.

    2. it’s two races – a doubleheader

      1. No, it’s a double points race.

      2. It’s not – points are simply doubled for the hell of it.
        Whatever F1 gets wrong – US racing tends to get it even wronger.

    3. don’t see a problem with any number of points really… actually like the IndyCar system because everyone gets points, it’s a good way to differentiate people at the middle and back of the field, as opposed to the F1 system where we have seen material Constructor positions (at the back end of the top 10 where there is significant money at stake) being decided by someone finishing 12th or 13th once in a race with a lot of retirements

    4. The regular Indycar points system allocates 50 points to 1st place (it’s doubled for the Indy 500 and Sonoma – the former I can support double points but not for the latter). I actually like it, because they allocate points all the way down to 33rd place (33 cars is the maximum grid size, although usually only the Indy 500 gets that size grid) – although 25th to 33rd place all get 5 points. But, it encourages participation (you turn up, you get points) and by having points all the way down, drivers still battle over the last places and if a car suffers minor damage or a minor fault, there’s reason to continue even if you have to come into the pits and go several laps down to resolve the problem. A similar ideology is used in V8 Supercars (with 300 points for a weekend, usually split into 150/150 for a two race weekend or 75/75/150 for a 3 race weekend) and NASCAR (43 for a win, then 39, 38, 37 etc. down to 1 for 40th – the idea is 1 point per position plus 3 bonus points for a win).

      In my opinion, most championships should adopt a 100-point system. It’s a nice round number for a win, and being so large allows for points to be allocated all the way through the field, which in the case of F1 would prevent the silliness that goes on with retiring early if there’s no chance of scoring points, or “doing an Alonso” and pitting right at the end for fresh tyres to try and setting a fastest lap. I know some F1 fans have this idea that a team should have to work to score points – I used to feel this way too – but I think on balance the new system is much better. It’s not like points statistics are particularly useful anyway, the effect of changing points systems on career statistics has been covered on this site before. So I think for F1 we could have something like:
      100-75-60-50-42-34-28-24-20-18-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
      Which allocates points through to 26th place. Even if we don’t have 26 cars on the grid, so what – at least we wouldn’t have to change points systems depending on the number of cars on the grid, and it just means everyone’s guaranteed a certain minimum number of points provided they start/are classified (depending on how the rules are written).

    5. @fullcoursecaution @bascb @hunocsi @vmaxmuffin I like IndyCar and I love commentating on it. But the points system drives me up the wall.

      Double points for the last race is awful for the same reason it was awful in F1 two years ago. I could see the reasoning when they gave double points for the 500-milers a couple of years ago: twice the distance, twice the points. But doing it for Sonoma is a nothing more than a lame gimmick.

      What’s more, IndyCar title contests usually go down to the final race even without double points. They did in ever year until 2005, and would have done this year without double points.

      And then there’s the little fiddly bits: points for pole, leading a lap and two points for leading the most laps. It makes it harder to check the points standings on-the-fly during a race. And then there’s the fact double points doesn’t apply to these, only to finishing positions. It’s all excessively complicated and doesn’t benefit the racing.

      As I wrote last year about F1, I’d dump all points systems and give the title to the driver with the most wins. To me that’s the simplest and best way of determining which driver did the best job of beating his rivals over a season.

  2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    5th September 2016, 16:29

    Awesome Indy race yesterday! Really put the F1 to shame

    Really hope Pagenaud doesn’t get screwed over by double points like JPM last year (at least F1 righted that wrong). He’s been dominant this season. Great call by the Captain taking him on in 2015.

    JMP needs to ditch Indy and try to get that triple crown before it’s too late. Penske says his line-up next year will be looking to the long term (Newgarden perhaps?), so I think JPM might be getting the boot anyway.

    #keithcam

  3. Porsche win 6H of Mexico, Porsche win 6H of VLN7, Porsche win 24H of Barcelona, was a good weekend.

  4. Unfortunately, Keith left off the best race finish of the weekend. Do a search and find the end of the NASCAR Truck series at Mosport, Canada(I didn’t know the series even did road courses). Hopefully, you can watch the last 3 laps of true “rubbin’ is racin'”. It took race officials 20 minutes to decide a winner and there were almost a driver on driver wrestling match for more drama. While I generally dislike NASCAR racing, I’ve said it before: the Truck Series is actually a better, more competitive series than either Sprint Cup or Nationwide feeder series.

    1. @photogcw Yup, I did saw the clipping of the finish. I absolutely despise such series where the mentality is to not race fair but to ensure you win by any means possible. The drivers were not even penalised.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x96AuE-zbE

  5. A great weekend of motorsports barring Formula 1. Thoroughly enjoyed IndyCar’s return to Watkins Glen and a great race.

    6h of Mexico was a stunning affair.

    MotoGP never fails to impress in fact, even Moto2 and Moto3 were brilliant races.

  6. I really love IndyCar! Glad to see them back at the Glen, terrific racing.

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