2013 IndyCar Schedule Packed With Doubleheaders; Pocono Returns

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 1 2012

There will be two victory celebrations in Toronto in 2013. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

An expanded 19-event lineup featuring three doubleheader weekends, and the return of open-wheel racing to Pocono Raceway, highlight the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule released Sunday night.

With a 400-mile race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., joining the 500-mile events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Southern California, sanctioning body INDYCAR will institute a Triple Crown award paying a $1-million bonus to any driver who wins on all three ovals. A driver who wins two of the three races will be awarded a $250,000 bonus.

As widely rumored over the past few weeks, Saturday-Sunday doubleheaders have been scheduled for the street courses at returning venues Belle Isle Park in Detroit and the Streets of Toronto as well as a re-introduced Reliant Park layout in Houston. Additionally, standing starts will be implemented at those three venues.

Fourteen of 15 venues that hosted IndyCar Series races in 2012 return. Six races – Indianapolis, the doubleheader at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park, the primetime night event at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as well as Iowa Speedway in Newton and Pocono – will be broadcast on ABC. The balance of the schedule, including the season-opener at St. Petersburg, Fla., and the finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., will be carried on NBC Sports Network. Race distances and broadcast times will be announced at a later date.

“We are proud of the on-track product we provided in 2012,” Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR, said in a statement. “From the drivers to the new car (Dallara DW12), we demonstrated that the IZOD IndyCar Series is showcasing the best racing in the world.

“It is important to provide opportunities to generate additional exposure for our sport by expanding our racing schedule. We feel that our 2013 schedule will certainly challenge the fastest, most versatile drivers in the world with a strong mix of ovals and road and street courses, cumulating in 19 races.”

Bernard announced on Sept. 21 that the IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights series would not return to the Edmonton City Centre Airport circuit in 2013. The series also has not reached an agreement to race on the Streets of Qingdao, China – an event scheduled for mid-August on the 2011 schedule that was canceled and trimmed the race venues from 16 to 15.

“When we finalized our schedule for the upcoming 2013 season, it unfortunately did not include Edmonton,” Bernard said of an event that was a staple for the last eight years. “We remain optimistic that we will return to having two races in Canada as early as 2014.”

The 2013 schedule will begin on Sunday, March 24, on the challenging, 1.8-mile St. Petersburg street circuit. Auto Club Speedway will host the season-finale on Saturday, Oct. 19, for the second consecutive year. Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport claimed the Astor Cup as 2012 IndyCar Series champion on the 2-mile oval on Sept. 15.

The 97th edition of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 26, at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pole Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 18.

Six oval events include four in a row on diverse racetracks – the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway; the flat Milwaukee Mile; the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway bullring and the 2.5-mile triangular Pocono Raceway – in the middle of the season.

Pocono Raceway, which last hosted an Indy-car race in 1989, will showcase the series’ turbocharged V-6 cars on Sunday, July 7. Mark Donohue won the inaugural Indy-car race at Pocono in 1971 under U.S. Auto Club sanction. Multiple winners on the unique layout include current IndyCar team-owner A.J. Foyt Jr. (four times), Rick Mears (three times) and Al Unser and Danny Sullivan (twice). Sullivan won the 1989 race under Championship Auto Racing Teams sanction.

The addition of back-to-back races for the Honda Indy Toronto is a first in the history of the event, which will run July 12-14 at Exhibition Place.

“Since we acquired the race in 2008, our mandate has been to create entertainment and excitement for fans, customers, sponsors, tourism and the local community,” said Charlie Johnstone, vice president and general manager of Green Savoree Toronto. “A doubleheader allows us to go further, faster in the delivery of our mission and offers numerous benefits. We’re extremely excited to make it happen.”

A 1.7-mile, 10-turn circuit at Reliant Park will be the setting for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8. Sebastien Bourdais won the last Houston race in 2007 under Champ Car sanction, and Graham Rahal was runnerup.

“Our new events provide the right mix of strategically-located markets and historic tradition to our schedule,” Bernard said. “Houston gives us exposure in another top-10 U.S. market. Pocono is deep in open-wheel, oval racing tradition and has produced some of the most memorable races in Indy-car history. The addition of Pocono allows us to bring back a version of the Triple Crown, restoring a popular legacy of our sport to reward the champion of our three longest races of the season.”

Details regarding qualification procedures for the full-distance doubleheader races on the three street courses will be announced at a later date. INDYCAR last staged a single-day doubleheader at TMS in June 2010, with Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Will Power of Team Penske posting victories.

Re-introduction of engine manufacturer competition after a six-year absence featuring consumer-relevant 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 powerplants supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus and the new/universal Dallara DW12 chassis marked the 2012 season.

Eight different race winners emerged during the 15 events, with Hunter-Reay securing his first IndyCar championship over Power by three points in the finale. Hunter-Reay, who clinched with a fourth-place finish in the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at ACS, was cited as winner of Driver of the Year third-quarter voting last week.

Chevrolet clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship for General Motors when Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske won the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Calif., on Aug. 26. Chevrolet supplied 15 of 27 engines to the starters in the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road-course. Chevrolet won 11 of 15 IndyCar races, although Honda and Franchitti claimed the prestigious Indy 500.

“In a year that saw the debut of a new car, the return of engine competition and some of the fiercest racing this sport has seen in decades, our hats are off to Chevrolet, its teams and drivers on a job well-done,” said Bernard, noting the 2013 schedule is designed to showcase the “skills and personalities” of all series drivers and teams.

“We look forward to watching Ryan Hunter-Reay defend his title, the second year of engine manufacturer competition and the best-of-the-best tackle this challenging schedule in 2013,” Bernard said.

2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Schedule

March 24 _ Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., 1.8-mile street-course, NBC Sports Network

April 7 _ Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala., 2.39-mile road-course, NBCSN

April 21 _ Streets of Long Beach, Calif., 1.968-mile street-course, NBCSN

May 5 _ Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2.6-mile street-course, NBCSN

May 26 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval, ABC

June 1-2 _ Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit, 2.07-mile street-course, ABC

June 8 _ Texas Motor Speedway*, Fort Worth, 1.5-mile oval, ABC

June 15 _ The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis., 1-mile oval, NBCSN

June 23 _ Iowa Speedway, Newton, 0.875-mile oval, ABC

July 7 _ Pocono International Raceway, Long Pond, Pa., 2.5-mile oval, ABC

July 13-14 _ Streets of Toronto, Canada, 1.75-mile street-course, NBCSN

Aug. 4 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio, 2.258-mile road-course, NBCSN

Aug. 25 _ Raceway at Sonoma, Calif., 2.303-mile road-course, NBCSN

Sept. 1 _ Streets of Baltimore, Md., 2.04-mile street-course, NBCSN

Oct. 7-8 _ Reliant Park, Houston, 1.7-mile street-course, NBCSN

Oct. 19 _ Auto Club Speedway*, Fontana, Calif., 2-mile oval, NBCSN

*Denotes night race; schedule subject to change

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 1 2012
One Comment

One Comment »

  • grumpiestoldman says:

    So Pocono gets our Watkins Glen date. But, I’ll be there. I hope they can keep the cars out of the grandstands.