The NTT Indycar Series presented its 2020 schedule Sunday afternoon during the Grand Prix of Portland pre- race show. The response from many fans ranged from tepid to angry. Much of the anger was directed at the subtraction of Pocono from the schedule. The Tricky Triangle’s replacement, Richmond, is a 3/4 mile oval. Outside of IMS, Texas is now the longest oval on the circuit next year at 1.5 miles. I’m not happy that there will be fewer miles of competition in 2020.
I have heard from several of my friends that the schedule will not allow them to attend as many races next year as they have the past few seasons. The main reason is turn around time. There are three sets of back to back weekends, in which he first race in each set is a Sunday afternoon race and the second race is the following Saturday night. There is one set each in June, July, and August. Fans may be okay with one six day turnaround, but three? Some the fans I have had discussions with went to both races in some of the newly formed pairs this year, but can’t do both since they are back to back. Attendance series wide may be affected. I sensed some frustration among those I’ve had contact with.
Another issue I have with the schedule is it looks like an accordion. It stretches out, then it squeezes tight. The season begins with the traditional St. Pete opener. It’s three weeks until the next race at Barber. Barber, which is too early in the year, is followed by a two week gap to Long Beach, COTA comes the week afterwards. Two weeks later the five week grind beginning with the Grand Prix of Indy commences.
I understand the gap between Iowa on July 18 and Mid Ohio August 16 is driven by the Olympics, NBC’s biggest sports property. Since most of the events will be shown on a delay, surely NBC could have squeezed in one Indycar race somewhere in that time frame. This might have been a good opportunity to attempt a mid week race. I’m not anti-Olympics, though they have added some questionable events. I just think there would be time to get one race in.
I’m sad to see Pocono leave the schedule. It’s a classic track and another high speed oval. The series should have at least two of those on the schedule. I’m wondering how ABC Supply’s pull back from racing had to do with dropping the track.
One fourth of the schedule will be finished before May and one half will be done by May 31. That leaves just nine races from June through September 20. This schedule shows why the season needs 20 races and should end around October 10.
My criticism of which television channels the races are on still stands. I was hoping for some changes and a couple of different races on NBC. To summarize, one of the first two races should be on NBC to let viewers know that they can watch Indycar on NBC. It would also be a stronger promo for the Indianapolis 500 than the blurbs during the NHL playoffs. I have no problem with them, but a race would make a stronger statement.
There are some positives in this schedule however. Richmond returns to the schedule after a ten year break. There is just a two week, instead of a three week gap between Portland and the finale at Weather Tech Raceway. I will still
attend as many races as I can