Indycar Officially Announces Richmond, Toronto Cancellations; Revised Schedule

From Indycar as I reported this morning:

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Schedule

INDYCAR announces updated 2020 series schedule

INDIANAPOLIS (May 21, 2020) – An updated 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule was released today, displaying calendar adjustments implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway remains the season opener with a night race on the 1.5-mile oval Saturday, June 6. The next race on the INDYCAR calendar will be the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Saturday, July 4.

“Our teams and athletes are ready to get back on track and will deliver world-class action at Texas Motor Speedway and the Racing Capital of the World,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We appreciate the opportunity to begin our season during these unprecedented times, and I’m confident we’ll put on a great show.”

The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America has been rescheduled from June 21 to July 11-12, becoming a double-header with championship points races Saturday and Sunday on the iconic, 4-mile road course.

Two events have been canceled for 2020 due to local restrictions surrounding the pandemic: the Indy Richmond 300 on Saturday, June 27 at Richmond Raceway and the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 12 on the streets of Toronto.

The season finale will be the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25, a new date recently announced after the originally scheduled season opener March 15 in St. Pete was postponed due to the global health crisis.

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Schedule

Richmond Cancelled as Schedule Shuffle Continues

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.

The New World of Sport

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.

Track Updates

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 Adds USAC.25 to Indycar Weekend-Update

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.

http://www.richmondraceway.com/Articles/2019/12/USAC.aspx

Update: Portland has also added the USAC .25 Series to.its Indycar program Labor Day weekend. Link:

 

https://portlandgp.com/news/257-usac-25-series-releases-2020-national-schedule-including-a-debut-at-the-grand-prix-of-portland

Richmond Raceway Excited for Indycar Return

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.

“But really it was about trying to find an opportunity in
the schedule. We were open to a lot of different dates.
This June date is more along the traditional date where
IndyCar raced here before. We love this date. It works
well between our two NASCAR races. For us, it really
presents kind of a big cadence to our year as we’re
promoting all of our racing events here at Richmond
Raceway…
one of the most
asked questions I got in the time I’ve been at
Richmond is, When are the IndyCars coming back? I’m
happy to say we’re able to answer that question now.
It really wasn’t that complicated. These guys made it
easy, Jay and the team, to discuss the possibilities of
having IndyCar return. I’m just thankful we were able to
get it all together.”
It looks to be a promising successful event for the series.

Morning Testing Session Focuses on Tires

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

“It was my first time with the screen. Just getting a feel
for that. It honestly was pretty seamless. Honestly
didn’t feel that different. Perception-wise it was a little
different when I got in. It took maybe 30, 40 laps, after
that you’re used to it. It feels kind of normal at this
point.”
Newgarden said the track was like “a smooth Iowa.”
“I’m hoping a second lane comes in. If it does, I could see it
racing very similar to that place.”
Scott Dixon said the car felt pretty much the way it did at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month. he thinks the oval configuration is fine. Dixon believes lap times may be slightly down because of the added weight, but thinks overal there will be a net zero effect on performance.
The final aeroscreen test will be at Sebring  November 5 with Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe driving. The test there will be the closest the series can come to testing on a street course.

Harding Steinbrenner Releases Al Unser, Jr.

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.

 

 

 

Richmond Set to Join Indycar Schedule in 2020

From Adam Stern in a Tweet this afternoon:

 

 

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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.