AJ Foyt blasted IndyCar's double points championship format for this weekend's Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma calling it a 'gimmick.'
Foyt, who holds the record with seven Indy car national championships 1960, ’61, ’63, ’64, ’67, ’75 and ’79, doesn't find it necessary to award double points for both the Indianapolis 500 and the season-finale at Sonoma Raceway.
"I don’t really care for it," Foyt said. "It’s like some people are ahead of us in points because they got their points at Indianapolis and some for qualifying there. I don’t like it. It’s a gimmick. A race is a race and none should be double points because you could be way out in the lead in the championship and you blow a motor or blow a tire or someone runs into you and you lose the championship.
"To me, that’s not a true champion. If you’re lucky you’ll be there and if you’re not, you won’t. I think all the races should pay the same points and that is it."
The Verizon IndyCar Series has benefitted by using double points for the season’s final race since 2014. Because of that, there are five drivers that have a legitimate chance at winning the championship heading into Sunday’s Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden holds a three-point lead over four-time champion Scott Dixon. Helio Castroneves is third, 22 points out of the lead, defending titilist Simon Pagenaud is fourth, 34 back, and 2014 champ Will Power is fifth, 68 points out but realistically still capable of winning the title.
IndyCar vice president of communications Curt Cavin said it's a policy that may be reevaluated during the off-season.
"There would still be three title contenders at this race without double points," Cavin said. "We will evaluate at the end of this season our points allocation like we have each of the past years."
Double-points were originally awarded to the three 'Triple Crown' races in 2013 – Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana – because of an imbalance in oval races compared to street and road courses. And, Foyt’s championships were determined under a variety of different formats used by the United States Auto Club USAC – the sanctioning body of big-time IndyCar racing at that time.
Foyt believes his championships came from his ability to win races. He is the winningest driver in IndyCar history with 67 victories.
"Naturally for me, the biggest thing is winning the race because if you win races, you’ll win the championship," Foyt said. "Winning races meant as much to me as winning the championship.
"You show me someone who has been a winner all of his life, they don’t like to lose even if it’s playing poker."
Foyt’s pick for this year’s championship?
"If I had to pick one, I’d say Newgarden has got a good chance," Foyt said.
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By Bruce Martin
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