IndyCar’s Detroit GP has been canceled, but Iowa and Laguna Seca are now doubleheaders and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host a second road race in October.
Those were the latest schedule changes announced Monday by Roger Penske and IndyCar in an effort to try and outflank the coronavirus and salvage the 2020 season.
As RACER.com reported a week ago, the odds of IndyCar opening the season at Detroit’s Belle Isle on May 30-31 looked shaky, and the plug finally had to be pulled on the doubleheader today.
“Detroit is in lockdown and the track preparation has to start in April, so we had no choice but to cancel,” said Penske, whose promotional efforts and improvements had turned this street race into a major weekend in Detroit’s sports scene.
But Iowa Speedway, Laguna Seca and IMS have stepped up to give IndyCar a shot at still having 15 races.
Originally set for the evening of Saturday July 18th, Iowa’s banked, bullring will now kick off on the Friday night to give IndyCar its first-ever two-day oval event. In 1979, CART ran three oval doubleheaders at Trenton, Atlanta and Michigan, but they were all on the same day. Ditto for Atlanta in 1981. Texas also staged two races in one evening in 2011.
Laguna Seca, positioned to be the season finale before the pandemic, will now host Saturday and Sunday (September 19-20) races on the scenic road course in Monterey.
“We’ve got contingency plans to take into account every possibility as when we might be able to start racing, and when we asked Iowa and Laguna about a second race they loved the idea,” said Mark Miles, president of Penske Entertainment.
“A third race at Indianapolis just seemed like a natural fit, since we already had the eight-hour GT World Challenge running that weekend. We may not be in as many cities, but we can make up these races with the help of our promoters.”
IndyCar will share the billing with NASCAR’s Xfinity series on July 3 at the IMS road course, and then run the 104th Indianapolis 500 on August 23rd. The Harvest Grand Prix is the name for the Speedway’s October 3 race.
As it stands today, Texas is the season-opener on June 6, and Miles says he still expects St. Petersburg to host the finale in mid-October.
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