Who thought a jigsaw puzzle could be put together a different way? The NTT Indycar Series revised schedule is impressive on several fronts. To change a race date involves many moving pieces- sponsors, promoters, television networks, vendors- all to agree. To move three races to accommodate one big is a feat only Roger Penske could accomplish. Here some of my mostly incoherent thoughts about yesterday’s events.
Could anyone besides Roger Penske pulled this off? Not likely. His connections across auto racing greatly aided everything coming together. Penske and the series took full advantage of the gap left by the postponement of the Olympics to work in the complete Indianapolis 500 program minus one practice day. My thought was when the race was rescheduled that there would be a day of practice, a day of qualifying, a day off then the race. I’m glad the entire schedule stays intact.
There is still some historic tradition left despite how much of the new schedule enters unfamiliar territory. The season starts May 30. 22 times in the past the Indianapolis 500 was the first race of the year. The last time it opened the season was 1957. The 500 has never been run outside of the month of May before. I’m not sure how to deal with May 24 yet.
The inevitable Indycar/NASCAR double header has become a reality a couple of years earlier than I expected. The GMR Grand Prix will run on July 4, the day before the Brickyard 400. The Xfinity series will have the first stock car road race at IMS following the Indycar race. I think this will be the model for future doubleheaders. I don’t think it’s to NASCAR’s advantage to run on an oval after Indycar runs a race the day before on that same track.
If you like all types of racing, the first five days of July will be heaven. Midgets, Indycar, Road to Indy, and NASCAR all at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s the type of race meet Carl Fisher dreamed of.
Could this be the new date for the GMR Grand Prix in the future? I don’t think so. The May lead in is important to the Speedway. If it is successful, who knows? I think it is worth the consideration. Add the two days in May back to the practice schedule for the Indianapolis 500.
Will the 500 lose another practice day going forward? When the series sees that the cars can get along fine with just three days, I could see the May schedule shrink again. I would hate to see it happen, bet I’m not going to bet against it.
I hope the race at World Wide Technology Raceway the week after the 500 can be moved to NBC. The move would help continue momentum from the 500. I love that the 500 is followed by a short oval. It will be just like the old days when Milwaukee followed Indianapolis.
I’m impressed that Indycar still has 14 races scheduled. I originally thought 12 was the most that could get in, if any racing occurred at all in 2020. Keep in mind, that nothing is certain as we are still at the mercy of the coronavirus.
Seeing St. Pete at the end of the schedule was a huge surprise. Green Savoree has worked hard to keep this event on the calendar. I know Mayor Kriseman is a big advocate for the race. October is a good time to hold a race in St. Pete. It is before the snowbirds arrive in great numbers. It will also relieve some of the economic hit caused by the abbreviated Spring Break.
Now that an October race is on the schedule, can we keep at least one there in future years? Maybe two?
The thing that doesn’t thrill me about St. Pete is ending the season on a street course. Qualifying is key there, although St. Pete usually jumbles the order with yellows at some point. It really bothers me to award double points for a street race.
Let’s hope that this schedule can run in its entirety. Everyone stay safe and be well.