IndyCar eliminates double points system for Indianapolis 500

Nathan Brown
Indianapolis Star

To many drivers' satisfaction, IndyCar will no longer award double points for results of the Indianapolis 500, series officials announced Thursday evening. According to a release, the series deemed after a review of the system this offseason that "the rule has proven to overly penalize full-time championship teams that have performed poorly in 500."

"While double points at the Indianapolis 500 has not altered who won the season-long championship, occasionally it has had a negative effect on the final position of the full-time teams," said IndyCar president Jay Frye in a release. "As our entry list grows, this move will provide consistency for teams competing for championship positions while not diminishing the importance of 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'"

The field of 33 drivers takes the green flag in 2021 to start the 105th running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
 Doug McSchooler/For IndyStar
The field of 33 drivers take the green flag to start the race Sunday, May 30, 2021, during the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

IMS president Doug Boles added that he supported the change in order to "enhance the integrity of the IndyCar championship."

'I've never been a big fan':IndyCar drivers divided over whether double points are good or bad

Series officials clarified that IndyCar's current mode of awarding points for those who qualify 1st through 12th on the grid for the 500 (via a descending points structure from 12 points for pole, down to 1 for 12th) will remain intact for 2023 and beyond. On top of that, the victor will now come away with 50 points with a chance to gain one bonus point for leading a lap and potentially two more, should they lead the most laps. With that in mind, the largest points deficit that could be created between 1st-place and 33rd via the Greatest Spectacle in Racing is 60 points (65 vs. 5), down from 105 (115 vs. 10).

Double points for the Indy 500 had been in place since 2014, when IndyCar installed a double points system for all three of the season's 500-mile races. In 2015, the series changed models and kept double points for the 500, as well as the season-finale (regardless of the type of race). That system lived on until Roger Penske bought the series. With the start to the 2020 season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, the series announced it had ditched double points for the finale moving forward.

Even with the system, IndyCar has seen 17 consecutive championship races come down to the final race of the year.