IndyCar | Double Down

Should the double points scoring system, for the IndyCar season finale, be eliminated in 2019?

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IndyCar | Double Down
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It is the unpredictability of life that can help wake us up from the slumber of complacency and mediocrity.

It is the wonderful surprises that can make our existence feel even more worthwhile in the grand scheme of things.

That overwhelming feeling of excitement when you've beat the odds and achieved your goal is equivalent to climbing the highest mountain on Earth and looking out at the horizon from your triumphant perch. It's an intoxicating feeling, but what if you were able to make the final part of the climb with two ropes instead of one? Would the sense of accomplishment feel just as satisfying in the end?

I ask, because the IndyCar championship finale at Sonoma Raceway has four drivers with a mathematical chance of winning it all this Sunday, but two of those drivers would have to greatly benefit from the double points that are awarded for the final race of the season.

In every other race, besides the Indy 500, the winning driver receives 50 points. Second place receives 40 points and the third place driver receives 35 points before bonuses (see IndyCar full points scale here).

With Penske Racing teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden tied on 511 points, and 87 points behind Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, the battle between them should ideally be for third place in the final standings. Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi is 58 points ahead of the dueling duo, and would therefore be safe in second under normal circumstances.

Even without the bonus points for pole position (1), leading a lap (1), and leading the most laps (2), either driver could still claim the Astor Cup if they won the race and the Kiwi title protagonist finished in last place. With the ten points that are awarded for 25th place, instead of the usual five, Scott Dixon would lose out on his fifth IndyCar championship by three points (608 to 611). If Alexander Rossi were to finish no higher than 10th (now 40 points) in this hypothetical scenario, he would be one point ahead of Dixon but two points behind Power or Newgarden.

It is this and numerous other speculative scenarios that will inevitably bring more excitement to the closer of what has been a very exciting season for the series. If one of the two Penske drivers in contention is able to pull off a miracle this Sunday, would it devalue the championship in any way? Would it somehow detract from what has been a glorious refresh of open-wheel racing in America, at a time when NASCAR Cup fans are tuning out in droves because of unwanted gimmicks that were implemented to spice up the racing?

All four drivers are deserving of this year's title, but there are only two who should be the last mathematical contenders in the Napa Valley. The numbers don't lie.

Average finish, after 16 races, for the title contenders:

Scott Dixon - 4.4
Alexander Rossi - 5.6
Will Power - 9.9
Josef Newgarden - 7.0

Something else to consider is how their teammates will factor into the final results. We've seen many times, over the years, when driver strategies are planned or altered in order to stifle another driver's advancement through the field. Especially if that driver is fighting against one of their own for the title, and it's on a track where it's notoriously difficult to overtake. Dixon only has Ed Jones for support tomorrow. Simon Pagenaud, winner over the past two years, could be a big championship spoiler for Penske. Rossi has three teammates who could help his efforts, as well as an unconfirmed alliance with Harding Racing, who hired their two young guns from Indy Lights to race this weekend.

It's a very intriguing scenario, but I firmly believe that Colton Herta and Patricio O'Ward are more concerned with having a great debut and securing a full-time ride for next season, rather than getting embroiled in the final race fracas. The fact that an astonishing debut could result in more points than some other drivers who have competed in five to six races is another reason why the double points system should be scrapped for next year and beyond.

What we are all hoping for is a clean and fair fight to the finish. We know that anything can happen in racing, but the efforts of a long season shouldn't be overshadowed by one race; not by the Indy 500, and certainly not by the final race in Sonoma.

The IndyCar season finale can be seen on the NBC Sports Network at 6:30 ET.

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