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Pandemic Update: Indy 500 Moved To Late August

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 26 2020

The Indianapolis 500 has been rescheduled.

The 104th edition of the Indianapolis 500 has been rescheduled for Sunday, Aug. 23, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials from INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) announced Thursday. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will air live on NBC, with the official green flag time to be announced at a later date.

Additionally, the GMR Grand Prix will transition to Saturday, July 4, on the IMS road-course as part of a historic doubleheader featuring the NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR. This first-of-its-kind racing event also will be televised by NBC on Independence Day.

The Indianapolis 500 originally was scheduled for Sunday, May 24, in its traditional spot on the calendar during Memorial Day weekend. The GMR Grand Prix was scheduled to be run on Saturday, May 9.

“The Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is my favorite time of year, and like our fans, I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500,” IMS owner Roger Penske said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing.

“We will continue to focus on ways we can enhance the customer experience in the months ahead, and I’m confident we will welcome fans with a transformed facility and a global spectacle when we run the world’s greatest race.”

On-track action in August will begin at IMS with practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 12-13, followed by Fast Friday on Aug. 14 and Indianapolis 500 Qualifications on Saturday and Sunday Aug. 15-16. Each day of qualifications will be televised on NBC, providing more network coverage of qualifications for fans than in 2019. A full broadcast schedule will be released soon.

The following week’s schedule will begin with hot pit-stop practice sessions on Thursday, Aug. 20, and include Indy Lights practice and qualifying. The Indy Lights Freedom 100 race, a significantly expanded Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge and final Indianapolis 500 practice will take place on Friday, Aug. 21, as part of Miller Lite Carb Day, followed by the public drivers’ meeting and full-field autograph session on Saturday, Aug. 22, as part of Legends Day presented by Firestone.

“Memorial Day weekend has always provided Indianapolis 500 fans an opportunity to honor the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our nation’s freedom,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President/CEO Mark Miles said. “This August, we’ll also have a unique and powerful opportunity to honor the contributions and heroism of the doctors, nurses, first responders and National Guard members serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

“We’re grateful for the patience of our fans as we’ve navigated this situation, and we extend our thanks to NBC for its terrific partnership and diligent work to maximize broadcast coverage with this new schedule.”

As a result of the schedule changes at IMS, the INDYCAR races scheduled for Aug. 16 and Aug. 22 have been rescheduled. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course now is scheduled for Aug. 9, and the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Ill., now is scheduled for Aug. 30. 

The GMR Grand Prix will take the green flag Saturday, July 4, before the first NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the IMS road-course _ the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard. The unique holiday racing lineup will mark the first time that the NTT IndyCar Series will compete at the same track on the same weekend as both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Immediately following the live telecast of the GMR Grand Prix on July 4, NBC will air the first NASCAR race on the IMS road-course featuring the Xfinity Series in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard.

“For very good reason, this historic pairing will be circled on the calendar of every motorsports fan,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We appreciate our friends at NASCAR for their flexibility and support in this matter and will work with them on a memorable, exciting weekend of racing action.”

Tickets already purchased for the Indianapolis 500, GMR Grand Prix and associated on-track days such as Miller Lite Carb Day and Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying Weekend will be valid on the rescheduled dates. Individuals already in possession of those tickets should use them for entry. To learn more about the adjusted on-track schedule, review customer FAQ’s and submit questions, fans can visit www.ims.com/COVID19.

All concerts scheduled for the original Race Weekend in May have been canceled. This includes REO Speedwagon and Styx on Friday, May 22, Luke Bryan on Saturday, May 23, and Martin Garrix on Sunday, May 24. This decision was made to provide the maximum flexibility possible to complete the Indianapolis 500 by Sunday, Aug. 23, and provide room for any contingency plans necessary. IMS appreciates the understanding of fans and regrets that the COVID-19 situation has caused the cancellation of these events.

Fans who made concert-specific purchases will be able to access a credit for any IMS event, including the Indy 500, or choose to receive a refund. IMS concert customers will receive further communication on how to exercise their ticketing options.

IMS and INDYCAR officials will continue to work closely with local, state and federal health representatives to ensure a safe and healthy experience for spectators. Enhanced measures that will be in place once activity resumes at IMS include:

_Increasing housekeeping staff at the track to elevate frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

_ Using cleaning products that meet current EPA and CDC guidelines for registered disinfectants to be used against COVID-19.

_ Educating all employees on CDC prevention guidance, including proper hand-washing technique and requesting that all vendors communicate strict hygiene protocol to staff.

_ Increasing public hand-sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas, containing sanitizer that meets or exceeds the CDC standard for alcohol content.

_ Reducing required hand-to-hand interactions between customers and staff at concession areas and other key IMS locations.

UPDATED 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE

Saturday, May 30 

Streets of Detroit Race 1, Belle Isle 

Sunday, May 31

Streets of Detroit Race 2, Belle Isle 

Saturday, June 6

Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth 

Sunday, June 21

Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis. 

Saturday, June 27

Richmond Raceway 

Saturday, July 4

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course 

Sunday, July 12

Streets of Toronto 

Saturday, July 18

Iowa Speedway, Newton 

Sunday, Aug. 9

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio 

Sunday, Aug. 23

Indianapolis 500 Mile Race 

Sunday, Aug. 30 

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Madison, Ill.

Sunday, Sept. 13

Portland International Raceway 

Sunday, Sept. 20

WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif. 

TBD Expected Finale

Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 26 2020
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