Texas Dropped As IndyCar Releases 2024 Race Schedule

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 25 2023

Texas Motor Speedway will  not hold an IndyCar event next year. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)


By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

INDYCAR’s 2024 race schedule does not include Texas Motor Speedway, ending an association with the NTT IndyCar Series that began with the track’s initial season in 1997.

Announced in a release Monday morning from Indianapolis, the 17-race schedule drops TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile layout from its most recent slot as the lone oval event leading into Month of May activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of next May’s 108th Indianapolis 500.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won the NTT IndyCar Series PPG 375 at TMS on April 1, first race of a reported new, three-year contract between the sanctioning body and Speedway Motorsports.

No mention of TMS’ exit, or the contract, was included in the official INDYCAR release.

TMS Executive Vice President/General Manager Mark Faber released this statement Monday morning: “Despite the best efforts by both Texas Motor Speedway and INDYCAR, we have been unable to reach agreement on a date that works for both parties for 2024. We know this is as disappointing to our open-wheel race fans as it is to us, but we have a great working relationship with INDYCAR and look forward to further discussions about the future.”

Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. President/CEO, indicated the sanctioning body has not slammed the door on a return to TMS, perhaps as early as 2025.

“I think that there’s an opening and it certainly doesn’t mean that we’re not going back, the fact that we’re not there in 2024,” Miles said during a ZOOM conference with national media. “I think everybody  understands we have basically zero flexibility after the Olympics next year. And with NASCAR’s move into the spring there, there really wasn’t an opportunity from TMS’ perspective for us. So, OK. There’s a great relationship there and we’ll double-back and see what’s possible in the future. That market is really important to us, so it’s not something that will be neglected.”

David Hart, TMS’ VP of public relations, said there would be no immediate statement on the loss of INDYCAR from Speedway Motorsports President/CEO Marcus Smith.

A follow-up inquiry by RacinToday.com concerning NASCAR’s return to TMS for a spring 2024 weekend _ as mentioned by Miles _ went unanswered Monday afternoon. Speedway Motorsports began the “transfer” of its annual spring NASCAR race weekend to Circuit of The Americas in Austin beginning with the 2021 Cup and Xfinity series schedules. The NASCAR All-Star Race filled that slot in June 2021 and May 22 before being moved to North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway in the summer of 2023.

TMS’ absence from the 2024 INDYCAR calendar is shocking, in that the April race played to highly positive reviews by several star drivers. Newgarden’s 26th career INDYCAR victory ended under caution. But that fact easily was overlooked after the two-time series champion, runnerup Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren and third-place finisher Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing sliced-and-diced within inches of one another at 220-plus mph during the frenetic closing 57 laps.

The outcome validated the new contract between INDYCAR and TMS’ parent company one year after the event’s future clearly was placed on life-support. INDYCAR’s most recent events at TMS had been reduced to a single-file parade, largely due to NASCAR’s use of a traction compound/resin laid down in the corners to create a second lane for its Cup, Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series races run on Goodyear Eagle radials.

INDYCAR’s lighter, spec Dallara chassis and Firestone Firehawk radials typically treated NASCAR’s compound like ice. Australian Will Power, a two-time series champion from Team Penske, launched a vocal campaign in 2021 that finally led to an optional “rubber-in-only” practice before the 2022 spring race, during which drivers received an extra set of tires to run exclusively in the second, or high-line, groove. The 2022 PPG 375 subsequently was won by Newgarden, who overhauled Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin of New Zealand to win by 0.0669-seconds. The margin of victory proved to be the closest of the 17-race season.

Armed with its new three-year contract and a largely positive vibe emanating from the paddock, TMS was poised to continue its position as the “Second Home of INDYCAR Racing.” That tag was among several marketing brands developed by Eddie Gossage, TMS’ first president/general manager and promoter extraordinaire, during his 25-year tenure. With the blessing of Speedway Motorsports founder O. Bruton Smith, Gossage aligned a still-under-construction TMS with Tony George’s all-oval Indy Racing League in the summer of 1996 during its bitter sanctioning turf war with the established Championship Auto Racing Teams. 

Last April’s 375-miler was the 36th INDYCAR event staged at TMS. Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s famed 2.5-mile oval and TMS are the only venues to have been constants on the INDYCAR schedule since the series made its debut as the all-oval IRL in 1996. No track has hosted more INDYCAR races during that span than TMS, aka “No Limits, Texas.”

INDYCAR shared the 2023 spring weekend with NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series. INDYCAR’s exit momentarily creates a hole at the top of TMS schedule, pending release of NASCAR’s 2024 schedules. The facility played host to its lone visit by NASCAR’s Cup and Xfinity series teams over the weekend as part of the Round of 12 Playoffs.

Return of The Milwaukee Mile to INDYCAR is set for Labor Day Weekend as a double-header on Aug. 31 and Sept 1. The iconic facility began hosting INDYCAR racing in 1939 and has featured wins by legendary drivers Rodger Ward (seven), Michael Andretti (five), Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt Jr., Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Paul Tracy, Al Unser and Bobby Unser (four each). The double-header is a first for the facility.

“There is such a great tradition and history of INDYCAR racing at The Milwaukee Mile, and we are excited to build on that legacy with a Labor Day weekend NTT IndyCar Series double-header beginning in 2024,” said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Corporation. “We appreciate all the loyal and passionate INDYCAR fans in Milwaukee and across the state of Wisconsin, and thanks to our partnership with the Wisconsin State Fair Park, we can’t wait to return to the Mile next season.”

The 2024 season will open on Sunday, March 10, on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for the 20th Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. North America’s premier open-wheel series will crisscross the United States, including a stop for the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26, before all roads lead to Nashville for the championship finale Sunday, Sept. 15, down the heart of the city’s entertainment district and Honky Tonk Row, where the 2024 champion will be crowned for the first time.

“The upward trajectory of the NTT IndyCar Series is reflected through the 2024 schedule,” Miles said. “With stops at premier and global entertainment districts, classic American road-courses and thrilling, high-speed ovals, the 2024 season will be exhilarating and highly competitive from beginning to end.

“The growth of INDYCAR is palpable. Combined with the efforts of our teams and partners, the 2024 championship will be the perfect showcase for our drivers as we continue to build on our reach and popularity.”

For the sixth consecutive season, NBC Sports will be the exclusive home for INDYCAR coverage in the United States. NBC will provide network coverage 12 times during the 2024 season. It marks the first time in 20 years the INDYCAR schedule has featured three consecutive years of double-digit events on network television.

Peacock remains the streaming home of INDYCAR. In a first for the streaming destination, Peacock will be the exclusive home of two races in a season _ Toronto for the third year in a row and Milwaukee (Race 1) for the first time. In addition to the exclusive races, Peacock again will simul-stream all races airing on TV and will be the home to all practices, qualifying and INDY NXT by Firestone races.

The 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season proved to be NBC Sports’ most-watched on record, averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.32-million viewers. It also marked the third consecutive year of viewership growth across NBC Sports platforms, including a record audience streaming the NTT IndyCar Series on Peacock.

With TMS gone from the lineup, two street circuits and two road-courses will set the stage for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. After the 2024 season opens Sunday, March 10, for the 14th time on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., the series returns to The Thermal Club for the first $1-Million Challenge Sunday, March 24.

Serving as an Open Test and a non-point NBC showcase, the event will take place at the world-class facility located outside of Palm Springs, Calif. _ a short drive from Los Angeles and the world’s top entertainment market. The $1-Million Challenge weekend format will include a qualifying session and two heat races. With members of The Thermal Club embedded with race teams and drivers, the top six finishers from the two heat races will advance to a showcase of stars, where they’ll compete for a $1- million prize.

The NTT IndyCar Series schedule resumes Sunday, April 21, on the Streets of Long Beach, with a telecast on USA Network. It will be the 40th time INDYCAR has raced on the iconic Southern California streets.

The series’ next five events will be featured on NBC broadcast television and Peacock. Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., will host INDYCAR for the 14th time, with the Sunday, April 28, race marking the final event before moving into the traditional Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. May at IMS begins with a race on the road-course Saturday, May 11, before attention shifts to the famed 2.5-mile oval for two days of qualifying Saturday-Sunday, May 18-19, building toward the 108th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Sunday, May 26.

Ticket sales for the 500 are at a pace exceeding 2023, when well over 300,000 attended the largest single-day sporting event in the world. It was the second-largest Indy 500 crowd in more than two decades.

The NTT IndyCar Series will feature a stretch of five consecutive weekends leading into June and July. It begins with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on Sunday, June 2, on USA Network, with racing on the 1.7-mile downtown street circuit for the second straight year. The new layout on the city’s challenging streets featured as much passing as any circuit in 2023.

Competition continues a week later on NBC and Peacock at historic Road America on Sunday, June 9. The newly repaved, picturesque circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis., witnessed the most on-track passing for an INDYCAR race at the facility in 2023.

The season continues Sunday, June 23, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on USA Network. Known for its iconic Corkscrew turn complex, the Northern California facility will host an INDYCAR race in June for the first time in 21 years.

Summer heat will be turned up in July with four races in three weeks, beginning with three consecutive broadcast showcases on NBC and Peacock. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will continue the nation’s Fourth of July celebration by hosting the series on Sunday, July 7, on NBC. Mid-Ohio matches Long Beach as it hosts INDYCAR racing for the 40th year in 2024.

The annual Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend double-header at Iowa Speedway in Newton is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 13-14, again on NBC. The 2024 edition will include the return of a Saturday night race to the weekend. With support from Hy-Vee, the weekend combines wheel-to-wheel action with world-class music at the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet.”

The final race before the Summer Olympics break takes the series back to the Streets of Toronto on Sunday, July 21. Peacock again will provide exclusive coverage as INDYCAR races around Exhibition Place and Princes’ Gates for the 38th time in Canada’s largest city.

The 2024 season will finish with a flurry as it features five races _ including three on ovals _ in five weeks. Beginning on the World Wide Technology Raceway oval in Madison, Ill., the series races out of the gates Saturday night, Aug. 17, on USA Network. The expected start time will take INDYCAR’s stars under the lights on the 1.25-mile track.

One week later on USA Network, INDYCAR will return to the West Coast to race Sunday, Aug. 25, at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway for the 30th time. In 2023, races at both WWTR, outside St. Louis, and PIR featured the most on-track passes on record at those facilities.

The new Labor Day Weekend double-header at The Milwaukee Mile will air on Peacock on Saturday Aug. 31 and USA Network on Sunday, Sept. 1, before the spotlight shifts to the Streets of Nashville for the season-finale Sunday, Sept. 15, on NBC and Peacock.

The new 2.17-mile/seven-turn circuit in Nashville still incorporates the iconic Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge but adds views of the Country Music Hall of Fame and world-famous Honky Tonk Row. For the first time, the series champion will be crowned as part of the marquee Big Machine Music City Grand Prix weekend, which will include a massive Broadway Street Party.

Previously announced, the 2024 season awards ceremony also will take place in the Music City, on Monday, Sept. 16, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

“2023 was a record-breaking season for the NTT IndyCar Series,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “For the first time, 27 starters competed at each event, and on-track passing records were broken at six racetracks. INDYCAR remains the most diverse and competitive championship in motorsports. We cannot wait to see how the 2024 season plays-out beginning on the Streets of St. Pete.”

The INDYCAR Radio Network again will provide audio coverage of all NTT IndyCar Series sessions via SiriusXM Channel 160 and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.


Start times for 2024 events will be announced at a later date.


Sunday, March 10 _ Streets of St. Peterburg, Fla., NBC/Peacock

Sunday, March 24 _ The Thermal Club $1-Million Challenge, Palm Springs, Calif.* NBC/Peacock

Sunday, April 21 _ Streets of Long Beach, Calif., USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, April 28 _ Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala., NBC/Peacock

Saturday, May 11 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course, NBC/Peacock

Saturday, May 18 _ Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 1, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, May 19 _ Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 2, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, May 26 _ 108th Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, June 2 _ Streets of Detroit, USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, June 9 _ Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis., NBC/Peacock

Sunday, June 23 _ WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif., USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, July 7 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio, NBC/Peacock

Saturday, July 13 _ Iowa Speedway Race 1, Newton, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, July 14 _ Iowa Speedway Race 2, Newton, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, July 21 _ Streets of Toronto, Peacock

Saturday, Aug. 17 _ World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Ill., USA Network/Peacock

Saturday, Aug. 25 _ Portland (Ore.) International Raceway, USA Network/Peacock

Saturday, Aug. 31 _ The Milwaukee Mile Race 1, West Allis, Wis., Peacock

Sunday, Sept. 1 _ The Milwaukee Mile Race 2, West Allis, Wis., USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, Sept. 15 _ Streets of Nashville, NBC/Peacock

*Non-point event

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 25 2023
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