With three drivers separated by a scant 20 points, the IndyCar Series once again is in the enviable position of having the championship come down to the last lap of the series finale. However, by breaking up the final three races over such a long span of time, the series shoots itself in the foot, failing the capitalize on any excitement the chase for a title would build.
After this week's race at Chicago, it will be three weeks before we see IndyCar Series racing again, and it will be live from Japan at 10:30 p.m. ET (which isn't terrible considering Chicago starts at 9 p.m. ET). Two weeks after that, the series championship will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
But in between those races, how much momentum is lost? Yes, I'm sure the ICS will have Ryan Briscoe, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon doing various interviews, but the best way to build up the series and put the drivers on display is to actually show racing and let the points battle unfold on a week-by-week basis (especially down the stretch).
In 2010, the issue is addressed slightly, as the series will close with 5 races in the final 7 weeks of season. Still, the race at Motegi is spanned by weeklong breaks before and after. Once again, any momentum built heading into and out of the penultimate race of the year is blunted by these breaks.
Look at again at the year-end schedule I've proposed for 2011 (here is my original schedule post):
- Labor Day Weekend - Kentucky Speedway
- Saturday, September 17 - Twin Ring Motegi
- Saturday, September 24 - Las Vegas (an easy stop on the way back from Japan; paired with Truck Series event; can go at night if too hot during the day)
- Saturday, October 1 - Phoenix International Raceway (season finale should Miami fail; 5 weeks ahead of NASCAR race at Phoenix)
- Saturday, October 8 - Homestead-Miami (finale if the 2009 and 2010 editions go well)
Now, obviously, tracks would need to be added for this to work. Or the schedule needs to be tightened. But it's an issue the IndyCar Series needs to address in order to capitalize on their ability to create a championship that comes down to the last lap of the last race of the season.