Some thoughts on the Indycar schedule released today:
I like that the huge gap between the first and second race is gone. Having three weeks between Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is probably more appropriate. It allows for testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at a time closer to the 500.
I hope the three weeks between Portland and the Laguna Seca final is just a one year arrangement. IMSA races at Laguna Seca September 15.
Team members have two three week stretches of races plus the four week grind of May and the Detroit doubleheader.
Will Barber return to its traditional date next year? Easter falls on the usual Barber weekend necessitating the change.
I’m excited that Indycar is going to Circuit of the Americas. My first though when I went there for the inaugural Formula 1 race was that it would be a good track for Indycar. My concern is attendance. COTA is a huge property. Like IMS, what would be a decent crowd at most places will make the track seem empty. F1 is the only series that has had good attendance in Austin.
While I’m sad to see one less oval on the schedule, I’m happy that Iowa will again be a Saturday night race. That track was made for Indycars on Saturday night.
Attendance at Laguna Seca could also be a concern with IMSA holding an event the weekend before. These two series need to work together and hold joint events.
Television Schedule Still to Come
We know all, the races will be on an NBC network. The question is, which race on which network? I will go out on a huge limb here and say the Indianapolis 500 will be on NBC.
Seven other races will appear on the big network. My guessses:
St. Pete- season opener; introduces audience to Indycar
Long Beach- historic track and event
Indycar Grand Prix- prelude to the 500; promotes the 500
Road America- another classic track; spectatcular scenery
Iowa- Saturday night racing showcases Indycar roots
Pocono- another 500 race; usually one of the best races of the year
Laguna Seca- season finale allows season recap and promotes 2020 season.
I’m sure I have one correct. I left off the Detroit doubleheader. With a limited number of network appearances, putting half of that schedule in a four week span creates a large gap until the next network race.
Last weekend at Portland Harding racing announced that 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward and Lights runner up Colton Herta will drive in the Indycar finale at Sonoma. Herta tested with Harding earlier this season and O’Ward will test with the team Thursday.
We might be seeing the future of Harding Racing begin. Gabby Chaves, who began the year with Harding and has a contract for next year, may be out of a ride.
Talk still is going on about MclAren taking over harding and some uinvolvement with Andretti Autosport. Both O’Ward and Herta drove for Andretti in Indy Lights.
However this situation turns out, I admire Mike Harding for putting a team together, hiring good experienced people, and running the entire season with older equipment. This was a low budget operation. Small teams like this are what the series needs more of.
On Wednesday, weather permitting, Fernando Alonso is scheduled to test an Indycar at Barber Motorsports Park. He will drive an Andretti Autosport car, the one Carlos Munoz drove in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Alonso has not announced where he will drive next year. The Indycar schedule has no conflicts with his WEC commitments for 2018. The WEC opener for 2019 is the same weekend as Portland.