COTA joins IndyCar for 2019, full calendar unveiled

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Credit: Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency / Courtesy of Formula V8 3.5

The calendar for the 2019 IndyCar Series has been revealed today, with the headline being that the series will race at the Circuit of the Americas for the first time. The seventeen-round calendar was unveiled online, with other standouts including the replacement of Sonoma Raceway by Laguna Seca.

Fans, teams and drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series have long been anticipating a race held at Circuit of the Americas, more commonly known as COTA. The circuit opened in 2011 and has held the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for every year since 2012. The event has become somewhat of a fan favourite during that time. Lewis Hamilton has taken every victory in all but one of the six races held there, but the races have been far from predictable, with action usually from start to finish.

There have been talks for many years regarding a COTA IndyCar race, however, the circuit has been unable to join any sooner due to an arrangement with Texas Motor Speedway, who already host an IndyCar race. The deal had prevented another race in Texas from taking place, through fears that the Speedway may lose ticket sales if the fans choose to visit COTA instead.

Thankfully, however, when the Speedway’s new contract was signed earlier this year, it was reported that the clause preventing another Texan race was gone; thus paving the way for COTA’s 2019 race deal.

One man who was certainly excited to be bringing COTA to IndyCar was Mark Miles, president of IndyCar’s owners Hulman & Co. Miles stated in today’s announcement that the circuit was “a natural fit” for the championship.

“COTA is one of the finest motorsports facilities in the world and Austin is a happening city. This a natural fit for the IndyCar Series,” said Miles, “Indy car racing has a large and passionate fan base in Texas with a hunger to attend more races. This added date will allow us to deliver both oval and road course events to the state in a single season.”

COTA will occupy the second spot on the seventeen-race 2019 calendar. The season will once again begin with the now-traditional Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will be held on Sunday, March 10. The series will head to COTA two weeks later for the second race on March 24.

The Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has been shifted to an earlier spot in the calendar to accommodate for the loss of the former race at ISM Raceway. The Alabama race will be run on Sunday, April 7, with the historic Grand Prix of Long Beach taking place the next week on April 14.

May remains untouched as the series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 11 followed by the Indianapolis 500 on May 26. After the biggest race of the year, the drivers will have no time to rest, as the two races that comprise the Duel in Detroit are run less than a week later on June 1 and 2. The fourth race in three weeks, the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, will be the ninth round of the championship, taking place under the floodlights on Saturday, June 8.

The longest track on the calendar, Road America, will once again host the KOHLER Grand Prix. The race will be run on June 23, with the series then heading north of the border for the Honda Indy Toronto in Canada on July 14.

The twelfth round of the 2019 championship will take place at Iowa Speedway, with the event being switched back to a night race after a handful of day races over the last few years. The popular race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will cap off the month of July, with August playing host to the final two oval races of the season at Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park on Sunday 18 and Saturday 24.

After fans queued in the thousands for the return of IndyCar to Portland International Raceway, many will be glad to see the circuit remain on the calendar for 2019. The Grand Prix of Portland will take place on Sunday, September 1.

Credit: Jake Galstad LAT Images / Courtesy of IMSA

Sonoma Raceway, the hosts of the IndyCar season-finale for every year since 2014, will not appear on the calendar for the first time since it returned to the series in 2005. Instead, the championship swansong will take place at another famous Californian road course; WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Fans were delighted when it was announced earlier this year that the circuit would be returning, with the track having played host to many historical moments from back in the day; such as Alex Zanardi‘s incredible pass at the famous corkscrew corner in 1996. It will certainly be interesting to see how the current teams and drivers get on at one of the most challenging circuits in the United States and the world.

In total, seven of the seventeen races in 2019 will be run on road courses, with the remaining ten races split equally between street courses and ovals.

There had been talks in the last few months of possible races being added to the calendar, including a race in Mexico City at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. A number of ovals were also reportedly in consideration for a race date to fill the void left by ISM Raceway. Richmond Raceway reportedly held talks with the series, but ultimately, as with Mexico City, the talks failed to result in a race date.

One aspect of the 2019 championship that has yet to have been announced is the title sponsor of the series. Just one race remains in the 2018 season, with Verizon leaving the series after the finale. An announcement should come within the next few weeks and months.

The 2018 season-finale, the Grand Prix of Sonoma will take place on Sunday, September 16. Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi enter Sonoma’s final IndyCar race with twenty-nine points between them in the championship.

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Reporter from the East of England. Covering the NTT IndyCar Series for The Checkered Flag. Also an eSports racing driver on iRacing.
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