Of course IZOD IndyCar Series drivers like the dual titles (road/street courses and ovals) within the IZOD IndyCar Series championship initiative. It’s potentially more money to purchase iPads and Ritmo Mundo watches for everyone on their extensive Christmas lists. Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard on April 27 announced the implementation of contests to recognize the highest-scoring oval driver and corresponding road/street circuit driver. The champion of each discipline will receive a TBD cash award along with a trophy named in honor of an Indy car racing legend. Over time, that likely will be more meaningful than the dough.
“It’s good because some fans like the oval racing better so they will cheer for their driver to win the oval track championship and some fans that watch a lot of Formula 1, they like the road and street courses better so they would cheer for their driver and team to win that championship,” says Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. “It also gives the teams more opportunity to show off their sponsors, sort of like a podium finish.
“You may not be top three in the overall championship but you might be in the road course championship or the oval track championship. It’s good for the fans, the sponsors and the teams. It brings more to the mix so I think it’s a good idea.”
Fans will have the opportunity the first week of June to vote on www.indycar.com for the two names to be placed on the trophies. Those will be unveiled during race weekends at Texas Motor Speedway (oval legend) and Watkins Glen International (road racing legend).
“I think it’s great to highlight the fact that we do have two completely different disciplines of racing within one series,” says Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the most recent race at Long Beach in the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport. “It’s the only racing series in the world that does that with the street courses, road courses, mile-and-a-half super speedways, and short ovals.
“So it’s great to highlight that and give it some recognition, but really what matters is winning the Indy 500 and winning the series championship. I don’t think anybody has heard that and is like, ‘OK, my primary goal is to win the road course championship or win the oval. I think it’s kind of a side note. Congratulations, you were the best in that category. But what real matters is the series championship and Indy 500.”
For the record, Hunter-Reay wouldn’t reject the awards for winning either of the supplementary championship categories.