One new venue, the return of an old friend, three Saturday night ovals, two stretches of three races in a row and the 103rd Indianapolis 500 highlight the 2019 IndyCar Series schedule.
Circuit of The Americas outside Austin (pictured above), a state-of-the-art road course that hosts Formula 1 every year, is the new addition to the 17-race card — which starts in early March and ends in mid-September.
COTA had always been off limits to IndyCar because of a territorial agreement with Texas Motor Speedway but after some spicy negotiations between IndyCar and Texas boss Eddie Gossage, the longest-running oval (besides Indianapolis) got a discount on its sanction fee and IndyCar had a world class venue to replace Phoenix.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which played host to CART from 1983-2004, is back on the 17-race schedule and replaces Sonoma as the season finale on Sept. 22.
Texas will be in its customary slot on Saturday evening June 8, while Iowa returns to a Saturday night fight on July 20 after trying Sundays and losing fans, while Gateway’s third consecutive Saturday night show will again be the final oval of the season come Aug. 24.
The 103rd Indianapolis 500 takes the green flag on May 26, following the sixth IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 11, and the entire month including qualifying will be televised on NBC.
In July, Toronto, Iowa and Mid-Ohio will run on consecutive weekends and that will be followed by three in a row at Pocono, Gateway and Portland in August. The Grand Prix of Portland, which made a rousing return last weekend, again will run on Labor Day weekend.
Detroit remains the only doubleheader on the docket and Pocono returns for a seventh straight season.
In all, there are seven permanent road course races, five on street circuits and five ovals during the seven-month season, which also includes three weeks between races in June and July and a three-week opening from late July into August, which IndyCar hopes to shore up in 2020.
2019 IndyCar Series schedule
March 10 — St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 24 — Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas
April 7 — Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala.
April 14 — Long Beach, Calif.
May 11 — Indianapolis GP
May 26 — Indianapolis 500
June 1-2 — Detroit GP, Belle Isle (doubleheader)
June 8 — Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth (Saturday night)
June 23 — Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 14 — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
July 20 — Iowa Speedway, Newton (Saturday night)
July 28 — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
Aug. 18 — Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.
Aug. 24 — Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Ill. (Saturday night)
Sept. 1 — Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore.
Sept. 22 — WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif.