The calendar for the postponed 2020 NTT IndyCar Series has undergone another raft of alterations following today’s announcement that the doubleheader Detroit Grand Prix, which had been scheduled to be the new season-opener at the end of May, has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Amongst the changes announced today was the addition of a third visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the planned calendar, with a second race on the Speedway’s Grand Prix circuit planned as the penultimate race at the beginning of October. Elsewhere, both Iowa Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will now host doubleheader race weekends during the course of the revised season.
Following the postponement of the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series on the eve of the planned start of the season at St. Petersburg last month, it was announced just under two weeks ago that the calendar would be radically different than originally planned when the championship is able to resume following the COVID-19 outbreak. The changes previously announced included an August race date for the Indianapolis 500, a NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader at Indy in July and a new planned restart date at the end of May with the Detroit Grand Prix.
Now, however, due to unpredictability regarding the end of the COVID-19 outbreak. The NTT IndyCar Series was forced to announce yet more changes to the 2020 calendar, including the somewhat expected announcement of the cancellation of the Detroit Grand Prix.
To compensate for the loss of the two races that would have made up the Detroit Grand Prix, IndyCar announced today that two stops on the calendar, Iowa Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, would now host their own doubleheader race weekends. Also, a second race on the Grand Prix circuit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was revealed; bringing the new calendar total up to fifteen races; a loss of two races from the original calendar but an increase of one race compared to the altered calendar previously announced.
“We’re committed to bringing fans as much on-track action as possible,” Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO, said today. “Our updated schedule features additional racing at fan-favorite venues and adds to the total number of events on our calendar. The COVID-19 situation continues to be dynamic and challenging for everyone, so we have developed contingency plans which will allow us to respond to changing conditions. Our goal is to preserve as much racing competition as possible while prioritizing the health and safety of our participants and spectators.”
“Like our fans, we’re disappointed we won’t be racing in Detroit this year,” Miles continued. “However, we’re excited to return to Belle Isle in 2021 and know we’ll put on a great show for everyone when we do. We also appreciate the flexibility and support of our event promoters at Iowa Speedway and Laguna Seca, who have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to host doubleheaders.”
The season is now scheduled to begin on Saturday, June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway before continuing with the originally planned follow up races at Road America and Richmond Raceway on June 21 and June 27 respectively.
The first of three visits to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 4. This weekend will mark the first time that the NTT IndyCar Series has shared a race weekend with the NASCAR Cup Series at the same venue; with IndyCar and the NASCAR XFINITY Series racing on the Grand Prix circuit on Saturday before the Cup Series takes to the speedway on Sunday.
The Grand Prix of Toronto will take place the following weekend on July 12 before the series heads to Iowa Speedway for a now-doubleheader weekend from July 17-18. The series will then journey to the Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course for the eighth round of the season on August 9.
The biggest race of the season, the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, will now take place on Sunday, August 23, with qualifying being held the weekend before. The month of August will then conclude the following weekend with the final oval race of the season at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday, August 30.
September will see IndyCar take to Portland International Raceway on Sunday, 13, before heading to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca; the circuit originally scheduled to host the season finale. Laguna Seca will now host two races on from September 19-20, with the championship then continuing afterwards with a second race date on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit on Saturday, October 3.
Finally, a rescheduled Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is currently slated to be the season finale of the 2020 championship. However, a race date for St. Petersburg has yet to be announced.
Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a chance that further race dates will be cancelled or altered. At this moment, it would be likely to see the new season opener at Texas Motor Speedway be cancelled given that it is due to take place less than a week after the now-cancelled Detroit Grand Prix.