IndyCar eliminates standing starts in 2015

(IndyCar Series Photo/John Cote)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — IndyCar will no longer use standing starts, which were popular with fans but poorly executed by drivers unaccustomed to them.

The standing starts were first introduced at Toronto in 2013 and used at four venues last season. But the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis was marred when pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled, and debris from the resulting three-car accident struck the Indianapolis mayor.

IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker said Tuesday none of the circuits that have used standing starts in the past met the minimum space requirement. He also said inconsistencies with the launch software made such starts too unpredictable.

“There is some development needed with the launch,” Walker said in a statement that didn’t rule out the eventual return of standing starts. “We know the fans enjoy it, and we love it, too.”

IndyCar also announced Tuesday that double points will be awarded in the Indianapolis 500 and the season-ending race at Sonoma Raceway next season. The winner will receive 100 points, the runner-up gets 80 points and 70 points go to the third-place driver. The allocation continues down to the point where those finishing 25th or lower receive 10 points.

By giving more points at the season finale at Sonoma, which is on a road course, IndyCar hopes its championship will be more dramatic. The title race has gone down to the finale every season since 2005.

“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,” Walker said.

Also announced Tuesday:

— IndyCar will have six open tests, and the new bodywork kits will debut during a March test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

— The manufacturer championship has been tweaked to reward reliability and competitiveness, with only the top three Chevrolet and Honda finishers receiving points. Previously, points were scored by the overall top five.

“We don’t want the manufacturer championship to be a contest that is solely about whether you can dominate the grid with the number of cars in your lineup,” Walker said. “It is about engines, and we measure their performance in a few different ways.”

— Rookie testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see its three phases increased by 5 mph each. Phase 1 will consist of 10 laps at 205-210 mph. Phase 2 will be 15 laps of 210-215 mph. Phase 3 will be 15 laps in excess of 215 mph.

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