IndyCar Releases 2014 Schedule On Eve Of 2013 Finale

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 18 2013

Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon takes points lead to Fontana. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

An unprecedented pair of point-paying events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Month of May and return of doubleheader weekends in Detroit, Houston and Toronto highlight the IndyCar Series’ 18-race schedule for 2014.

Spread over 15 event weekends, next year’s schedule is down one race from the current campaign and will conclude on Aug. 30 – almost two months earlier than the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series tour that will close at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Saturday night.

Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing will take a 25-point lead over Helio Castroneves of Team Penske into the MAVTV 500 on the 2-mile layout in Southern California. Dixon is seeking his third championship in the 250-lapper while Castroneves is chasing his first driver’s title and the series’ $1-million bonus.

In addition, Honda and Chevrolet are tied point-wise in a manufacturers’ championship that has seen each supplier post nine victories. Ironically, neither Dixon (Honda) nor Castroneves (Chevrolet) will be eligible to contribute to their manufacturers under terms of the series’ Fresh Engine Status rules. Dixon and Castroneves are among a group of six drivers who will be served with 10 grid-spot penalties by sanctioning body INDYCAR at Fontana for violating Rules 15.5.1 and 15.1.4 as follows:

Rule 15.5.1. The minimum mileage threshold (“Change-Out Mileage”) is 2,000 miles.

Rule 15.1.4. Each Full-Season Entrant may use no more than five fresh-built engines from the first Open Test until the end of the race season. Using more than five fresh engines in this period will result in a penalty. Engines beyond the fifth fresh engine may be fresh or part-used. Teams utilizing an engine outside of their allotment of five engines are not eligible to score points for the manufacturer’s title.

Qualifying will be televised by NBC Sports Network from 7-8 p.m. (EDT) Friday. Saturday’s race will be televised by NBCSN from 8 p.m. to midnight (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211, www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 App for most smart phones and tablets. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Lefty’s Kids Club 100 on Saturday, also at Auto Club Speedway. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday.

The 2014 schedule again will feature events on technically challenging road and street courses, short ovals and superspeedways. Race distances, times and network television schedules will be announced at a later date.

For the fourth consecutive season, the 2014 schedule will begin on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg (Fla.) street circuit on Sunday, March 30. The season will conclude at Auto Club Speedway outside Los Angeles on Saturday, Aug. 30, for the third consecutive year.

“The 2014 schedule reflects a more condensed North American calendar to increase the consistency with our race weekends,” said Mark Miles, CEO, Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR. “We’ll be building momentum throughout the season toward crowning our champion on Labor Day weekend.”

Miles noted the street-course race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has been contested the past four years, may return in 2014 but currently is not part of the schedule. Gone from the schedule is the event that has been run on the Streets of Baltimore at Camden Yards the past two seasons.

Jump-starting Month of May activities at IMS will be the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday, May 10, on a reconfigured 2.343-mile, 14-turn road-course currently undergoing $5-million in improvements. Like the FIA Formula One United States Grand Prixs formerly staged at IMS, the road-course will utilize portions of the famed 2.5-mile oval. The Speedway will then open on Sunday, May 11, for Indianapolis 500 practice.

The 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25. Qualifying weekend is booked for Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18.

“We’re excited about the new Month of May at IMS and our first Grand Prix of Indianapolis,” Miles said. “Many people want to see more of our racing, and we’re putting some of it on our most iconic stage and building toward the 500. We want to use the strength of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 500 to leverage value for the IndyCar Series and vice-versa.”

Full-point doubleheaders on Detroit’s Belle Isle, Houston’s Reliant Park and Toronto street-courses return for a second year after producing championship-defining results this season. The event on the 1.634-mile, 10-turn temporary circuit at Reliant Park in Houston has been moved from early October to late June, bundling the doubleheaders into a two-month span.

Additionally, the annual night race on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile quadoval in Fort Worth on Saturday, June 7, separates the Detroit and Houston dates as the series will remain in the Lone Star State through late June.

The second IndyCar Series race at the 2.5-mile Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Sunday, July 6, followed by a night race at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 12, bisect Houston and the doubleheader on the Exhibition Place circuit in Toronto. That span represents racing on four consecutive weekends.

Meanwhile, the event at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., has been moved from mid-June to Sunday, Aug. 17. Wisconsin-based ABC Supply Co. will return as title sponsor of the race in 2014 and ’15.

The fifth annual road-race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., has been assigned a spring date two weeks later than this year on Saturday, April 26.

Four road and street-course races will start the season, while the drive to the championship in August includes road-course events at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, The Milwaukee Mile oval and the season-ender at Auto Club Speedway.

“We want the build-up to the championship to reflect our versatility by featuring a short oval, a road-course and superspeedway in the final three consecutive weekends of our schedule to highlight the talent of our drivers,” Miles said.

2014 IndyCar Series Schedule

March 30, Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., 1.8-mile street-course

April 13, Streets of Long Beach, Calif., 1.968-mile street-course

April 26, Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala., 2.38-mile road-course

May 10, Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, 2.343-mile road-course

May 25, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, 2.5-mile oval

May 31, Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit, 2.35-mile street-course

June 1, Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit, 2.35-mile street-course

June 7, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, 1.5-mile quadoval

June 28, Reliant Park, Houston, 1.634-mile street-course

June 29, Reliant Park, Houston, 1.634-mile street-course

July 6, Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa., 2.5-mile oval

July 12, Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa, 0.875-mile oval

July 19, Streets of Toronto, Canada, 1.75-mile street-course

July 20, Streets of Toronto, Canada, 1.75-mile street-course

Aug. 3, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio, 2.258-mile road-course

Aug. 17, The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis. Wis., 1-mile oval

Aug. 24, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, 2.385-mile road-course

Aug. 30, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif., 2-mile oval

Schedule subject to change

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 18 2013
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