Woody: One Champ Is Enough

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 20 2010

Danica Patrick and Dario Franchitti could both win an IndyCar championship. (IZOD IndyCar Series photo by Chris Jones)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

The Indy Racing League this season plans to award a championship to the driver who scores the most points on road courses and another championship to the driver who does the best on oval tracks, in addition to its overall championship.

My question is, why stop at two?

Why not also award a championship to the driver with the most points on a dry track and another championship for the best driver on a damp track?

They could have a champion for sunny races and one for overcast races.

If three is good, wouldn’t four, five or six be even better?

They could award a Gas Mileage Championship.

And a Best Paint Job Championship.

How about a First to the Track Championship to reward early risers?

Oh, you say, that’d be plain silly?

Of course it would. Just as awarding separate championships for road courses and ovals is silly.

Let’s hope it doesn’t catch on in NASCAR. Can you imagine a Road-Course Champ, a Short-Track Champ, an Intermediate-Track Champ and a Superspeedway Champ? There also could be High-Bank Champ, a Medium-Bank Champ and a Flat-Track Champ.

They could even have a Night-Race Champ and a Day-Race champ.

How about a Saturday-Race Champ, a Sunday-Race Champ and a Rain-Delay Champ?

I know I shouldn’t pick on the IRL. They’re doing their best to generate more interest in the series. But presenting more trophies is not the way to do it.

They need to re-think their marketing plan. (Maybe “re-think” is not the right word; I’m not sure much thinking went into it from the start.)

For a league dying for exposure, it has made some odd decisions about its venues. If it wants to appeal to U.S. fans and U.S. sponsors, seems like it should be running more U.S. tracks.

Call me provincial but I still don’t understand why the IRL bailed on Nashville Superspeedway. It’s a beautiful track in a race-rich region with a giant TV market. The IRL and its drivers were embraced by area fans during its sojourn there.

Then it abruptly left, and interest in the IRL left with it.

Oh, I’m sure a segment of fans still keep up with Dario and Danica, but that’s about it until Indy rolls around.

Just when the IRL was starting to build a solid national fan base – including a foot-hold right here in the heart of NASCAR country — it bolted one of the nation’s most prime TV markets.

I tried to ask why, but nobody returned my calls.

The IRL’s PR department is second to none and its drivers were always cooperative and enjoyable to work with. But I’m not too sure about whoever’s running the show. I continue to be mystified by some of their decisions – the latest being the “tri-championship.”

The IRL needs more drivers, more tracks and more races. Not more trophies.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 20 2010
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