Scott Dixon wrapped up his third IndyCar title, in 2013 (right), by holding off Helio Castroneves in the finale in Fontana, Calif. It was a rare finish: For only the second time in six years, the leader heading into the final race won the crown. NASCAR, by comparison, has seen a driver overtake the leader on the last day for a championship only three times in 33 years, and it's happened in just three of the past 15 Formula One seasons. That's not the only measure by which IndyCar puts on the tightest show in racing; the '13 season featured more passing and parity.
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LAPS PER PASS
WINNERS (% of regulars who won at least one race)
THE NEW MATH
For the second straight season, IndyCar is tinkering with its scoring. Three 500-mile races—on the ovals in Indianapolis and Fontana, Calif., plus the triangle at Pocono—will be worth double points. It's a move that will offset, to a degree, last year's tweak: the addition of three doubleheader road races. The two-race weekends (in Detroit, Houston and Toronto) are back. Now, a twin-bill sweep is worth the same 100 points (50 per race) as a checkered flag in one of the circuit's most grueling races.
WHO IT HURTS
Scott Dixon swept Toronto, was 1--2 in Houston and had a pair of fourths in Detroit. He's no slouch on ovals, but if you count the average of those points instead of the sum, he'd have lost the points race to Helio Castroneves by 33 instead of winning by 27.
WHO IT HELPS
Castroneves, an oval maestro, saw his hopes for a first championship disappear with an 18--23 weekend in Houston, the season's penultimate stop. And 12 of Marco Andretti's 16 career podium finishes have come on ovals.
ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IMAGES (DIXON)
JOHN CORDES/ICON SMI (CAR)