IndyCar and NASCAR Indianapolis doubleheader to run behind closed doors

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Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

The much-anticipated NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July will be run without spectators. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the sad news today, stating that they had hoped for spectators to attend the event – that will comprise both IndyCar’s GMR Grand Prix and the Brickyard 400 – but ultimately, a decision had to be made with the event drawing ever nearer.

When the NTT IndyCar Series was forced to re-arrange its 2020 calendar due to delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, one unexpected plus point came with the rescheduling of IndyCar’s event on the Grand Prix circuit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race, which had previously been set to be run in May, was moved to Saturday, July 4, thus putting the event on the same weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 on the oval on Sunday, July 5.

This change would mark the first time that the NTT IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Cup Series would share the billing for a race weekend at the same location. What’s more the NTT IndyCar Series race on the road course on Saturday would be followed by a NASCAR Xfinity Series race, also on the road course, on the same day.

Due to the historic moment of the NTT IndyCar Series sharing a race weekend with NASCAR’s premier series for the first time, anticipation grew very quickly amongst teams, drivers and, in particular, fans. What’s more, it was stated on numerous occasions that the race organisers were hoping to allow fans to spectate from the race track.

However, with COVID-19 still a massive concern worldwide, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials today announced that the GMR Grand Prix and Brickyard 400 race weekend would sadly have to be run without spectators in attendance. Mark Miles, President and CEO of the Penske Entertainment Corp., broke the news today in a statement. He said that the decision had to be made with the event drawing ever nearer and that there were no guarantees that Indianapolis would be able to play host to mass gatherings or sporting events by the time the race weekend came around.

“While we certainly worked diligently to run our events with spectators, we reached a point where we needed to make a final decision because the race weekend is less than a month away,” Miles said. “Today it’s not possible to be confident that Indianapolis will be at Stage 5 of the state’s reopening plan by the Fourth of July weekend.

“We are extremely appreciative of the time and expertise Governor Holcomb, Mayor Hogsett and state and local public health officials have given us over the last few months. This was a collaborative process and a decision we’re all aligned with after thorough review of the situation. We remain committed to welcoming the world’s greatest fans to the Speedway for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in late August.”

As it stands, fans who have purchased tickets for any event during the IndyCar and NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be able to receive a full refund or a credit toward tickets for a future event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, such as the Indianapolis 500 in August or the INDYCAR Harvest GP in October.

There are still hopes that fans can return to IndyCar and/or NASCAR events in the not too distant future. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not fans will be able to attend the third and fourth rounds of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series that will both take place at Road America on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12. NASCAR, however, might be ready to welcome fans back as soon as this month, with the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway being rumoured as events that could be held with fans in attendance. However, fan attendance is still subject to state-specific restrictions being lifted in the United States.

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will get under-way this weekend with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 6. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series will be back in action on Sunday, June 7, with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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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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