IndyCar: Double points for Indy 500, Sonoma only, no standing starts and other 2015 rules changes announced

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The Verizon IndyCar Series will have several rule changes for the 2015 season. There will be tweaks to the points allocations, an elimination of standing starts, and other changes designed for better clarity and to avoid a couple loopholes that inadvertently popped up this year.

Starting with points, double points will be issued at just two races in 2015: the Indianapolis 500, and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway. This year, double points were issued at all three 500-mile races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Auto Club Speedway.

“We look at the new calendar and analyze how many cars would be in contention for the championship after certain events, and the best trend with multiple cars racing for the championship was weighting it for the final race and the Indy 500, which is a special race deserving of double points,” IndyCar’s president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said in a release.

Double points see a win increase from 50 to 100, second-place from 40 to 80, third from 35 to 70 and so on and so forth according to the IndyCar points structure breakdown.

Qualifying points will remain in place for the Indianapolis 500 qualifying, with at least nine additional points being awarded to the Indianapolis 500 Verizon P1 Award winner. A maximum of 42 qualifying points were possible for Indianapolis 500 qualifying in 2014, with 33 going to the fastest Saturday qualifier and nine to the fastest Sunday qualifier – polesitter Ed Carpenter achieved that feat by qualifying fastest both days this year.

A breakdown of the qualifying points for the Indianapolis 500 will be revealed at a later date.

Also of note is the elimination of standing starts for 2015. They had been in place at some, but not all road and street courses, over the last two seasons.

“Most of the tracks we run on, few meet the space criteria for our cars, which are bigger than most formula cars,” Walker said, “and there is some development needed with the launch. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the picture for the future. We know the fans enjoy it, and we love it, too.”

Other regulatory changes include the following:

  • Engine Manufacturer Championship points have also been revised to further reward reliability and competitiveness of the Chevrolet and Honda 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engines. The top three finishing positions by each manufacturer will score points. Previously, points were scored by the overall top five. Additional points are available to the manufacturers for an engine that meets the 2,500-mile threshold (10 points), the manufacturer that earns the Verizon P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 (nine points), the manufacturer that earns the Verizon P1 Award in the 16 other races (one point) and the manufacturer that leads the most race laps (two points). Again in 2015, each full-season entry is allowed four fresh engines from the start of the season to the start of the following season with a total allotment of 10,000 miles. Twenty points will be deducted from a manufacturer’s total for an engine failing to complete its life cycle and an engine undergoing a non-minor repair that requires a component change.
  • Teams will be charged four days from their 14-day test allocation for Promoter Days (formerly known as Open Tests) at Barber Motorsports Park (March 16-17, for the introduction of Chevrolet and Honda street/road course aero kits), St. Petersburg (March 27), NOLA Motorsports Park (April 10), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (May 3), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 7) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 31). The on-track Promoter Day at St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio immediately precedes the race event weekends.
  • Qualification groups for road/street course races shall be determined by the practice session prior to Segment 1 of the three rounds of qualifying.
  • Qualifying will continue to set the pit lane assignment for the following event, but rule 7.4.1 addresses changing drivers between events, such as Carpenter and Mike Conway with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014. When Conway, who drove 12 road/street course races in the No. 20 entry, yielded to Carpenter for an oval race (and vice versa), the No. 20 car was assigned the last pit stall from pit out. Under the new rule, the entrant will retain the pit assignment based upon qualifying position from the previous event, regardless of driver.
  • Each of the speed phases of the Rookie Orientation Program for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race have been increased 5 mph. In addition to car control, placement and a consistent driving pattern, the Rookie Orientation Program shall consist of three phases totaling 40 laps: Phase One of 10 laps at 205-210 mph, Phase Two of 15 laps at 210-215mph and Phase Three of 15 laps at 215+ mph. The laps do not have to be consecutive. The phases and corresponding speeds may be adjusted based on track/weather conditions.
  • Correspondingly, the Indianapolis 500 refresher test for drivers will consist of 30 total laps (the second and third phases of the ROP).

Today’s release did not include any updates about IndyCar race control directly, as it relates to a potential replacement of departed race director Beaux Barfield.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)