The NTT IndyCar Series is expected to hold a similar number of races next season, with the possible expansion out to 18 rounds. In recent years, 17 rounds have been the norm, with COVID-related adjustments to 14 in 2020 and 16 in 2021 serving as the only outliers.
With a stated interest in improving IndyCar’s reduced oval presence, which accounts for only four races this year at three tracks, series owner Roger Penske has his team have been working on tilting the balance ever so slightly away from a heavy rotation of road and street courses by adding to the calendar.
“When we’re looking at the entire schedule, I want to have a mix of big ovals, like Indianapolis and Texas, and then you want to have short ovals,” Penske told RACER. “We’d like to get to Iowa (main image), which NASCAR controls, so we’re not in any position now to say yes, we will or we won’t, but that’s a real opportunity for us.
“And then, with the road and the street courses, what we need to do is maintain that date equity. That’s my biggest area of focus so that we can have date equity and people can plan to come each year, and at a time that’s convenient for them, and one that they’re used to. I would say that the schedule will have somewhere around 16, 17, or 18 races next year. We don’t have anything to send out yet, but that would be in that range for our goals, with a good mixture and seeing where we can get extra ovals. We’re certainly focusing on that.”
Rumors of a future IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance race at Penske’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway continue to make the rounds, and with successful annual pairings between IndyCar and IMSA at Long Beach and Detroit, Penske says he’d be open to more shared dates if there’s an interest from the NASCAR-owned series.
“There’s no question that we want to be able to expand our properties that we have, and look, IMSA, they’ve done a great job,” said Penske, who will field Porsche’s factory IMSA and WEC LMDh program. “They’re trying to grow it, and the injection they’re gonna have with the new LMDh (prototypes in 2023) will be really powerful.”
“So, it’s something that we can look at. I would say that [IMSA president] John Doonan knows that we have interest, but it’s completely up to them whether there would be more spots for us at any time.”