From Indycar as I reported this morning:
From Indycar as I reported this morning:
Indycar’sset in sand 2020 schedule changed again Wednesday. First, the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America moved to July 10-12 and is now a double header. Then the return to Richmond was cancelled.
The NTT Indycar Series is still expecting to open June 6 at Texas motor Speedway June 6. No fans will attend the first race of the season.
Road America is the third double header weekend on the revised schedule, joining Iowa and Laguna Seca in presenting two races on the same weekend. The Wisconsin switch was made in an effort to make fan attendance a greater possibility.
Richmond had hosted Indycar races from 2001-2009 and was looking forward to the series’ return.
Are we done with changes to the race lineup? I don’t think so. here is the schedule as of this morning, May 21.
June 6 Texas Motor Speedway
July 4- Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
July 11 Road America
July 12 Road America
July 17 Iowa
July 18 Iowa
August 9 Mid Ohio
August 15-16 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying
August 23 Indianapolis 500
August 30 Gateway
September 13 Portland
September 19 Laguna Seca
September 20 Laguna Seca
October 3 Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
October 25 St. Petersburg
Portland may move since fans would not be allowed to attend on the September 13 date. There is a gap in October, but I think one of the October weekends is being held in reserve in case the Indianapolis 500 needs to move again.
July has five races in 15 days. August has four consecutive weekends. If this schedule holds, it will be a busy time for teams and fans. I just want to get the season started. Back tomorrow to talk about the 1970 500.
Be prepared for a brave new world, race fans. Racing is set to resume, albeit under very different circumstances. NASCAR and Indycar will begin the season with no fans in the stands and strict procedures for teams during the events. This may be how we see racing for awhile. Every track presents a different set of circumstances, so the Texas model won’t work everywhere. It seems to be a good way to run oval races.
While I am as anxious as anyone to get to a race track, I want to be able to attend knowing my health is assured. The teams and drivers are assuming risk by participating in theses early races. Might it be better to wait until the country as a whole has a better handle on the situation? What happens when someone involved in one of the early races tests positive for COVID-19?
Indycar has the luxury to see how things go in the May NASCAR races. Future decisions might be based on what happens this month. The NTT Indycar series indicated yesterday that they are committed to completing the last schedule published April 6.
The governor of Oregon has announced that no fans will be at sports events in the state through September. That means no fans at the scheduled Grand Prix of Portland September 13.
The two Indycar races I see as least likely to happen are Toronto and Richmond. Canada has stricter lockdown procedures than the United States. The end date would not allow enough time for the track build. Richmond’s stay at home order expires June 10, two weeks before the race. It is a Porpermanent oval. In talking to people who live in the area, it doesn’t sound as if fans are going to be allowed at that race, if it goes on.
I also spoke with someone last night about Road America. It appears they are planning to have fans at the Indycar race. Whether that number will be limited has not been determined. The first part of the Indycar schedule could be a race with no fans, a race with fans, and another race with no fans.
Mark Miles said on Trackside Tuesday night that the Indianapolis 500 could be run as late as October if necessary. I would be fine with that, especially if it allows all fans wishing to attend to do so.
In these strange times, don’t expect a race to actually occur until you turn on your television and see it. We can ride this through. Stay safe and wash your hands.
Richmond Raceway today announced an addition to the NTT Indycar Series weekend June 27-and 28. The USAC.25 series will race, adding some value for the fans. I like when tracks add series such as midgets or Silver Crown cars to the Indycar weekends. Not only does it provide more track action, which oval need, but it gives fans a glimpse at the roots of Indycar. Here is the full story at the link below.
Update: Portland has also added the USAC .25 Series to.its Indycar program Labor Day weekend. Link:
Photo: Team Penske car ready for the aeroscreen test at Richmond Raceway. Josef Newgarden drove the car in today’s sessions. The aeroscreen looks much better painted. Photo from Team Penske
You could hear the excitement in track president Dennis Bickmeier’s voice as he talked about the NTT Indycar series returning to Richmond Raceway.
“…it’s really exciting to hear the sound of IndyCars going and Richmond Raceway again. A buzz around town, a luncheon around here with some of our invited guests, some of our partners, hopefully some of our potential new partners as well that are getting a glimpse of seeing IndyCars back on the track here at Richmond Raceway after a decade. Certainly exciting. Much quicker than even I anticipated. Again, given my previous history watching open cars around two-mile tracks, this is a different experience.”
“The track has sold tickets to fans in 26 states and two areas of Canada for the June 28 race. After the season ticket renewal period ends, more seats will be available for the Indycar race.
I asked Bickmeier to explain how Indycar’s return to the schedule happened. He said discussions began in 2018.
The morning part of the Richmond test was mainly dedicated to Firestone tire testing. Today was Josef Newgarden’s first time in the car with red Bull Advanced Technologies Aeroscreen. He found the transition pretty seamless
Al Unser, Jr. announced in a Tweet this morning that he has been released from Harding Steinbrenner racing. The release is part of the ongoing transition of the team as it becomes part of Andretti autosport. I wish Al well and hope he can find another team with a young driver to help.
From Adam Stern in a Tweet this afternoon:
This is a replacement, not an addition. It’s great that a track is returning to the schedule. It’s sad that Pocono will not be back. I think six ovals is the correct number to have a balance of the types of courses for Indycar. More thoughts when the schedule is official in a couple of days.