IndyCar eyes 20-race schedule for 2015, includes return to Brazil and possible first-ever race in Middle East

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NASCAR is reluctant to alter its schedule or expand to new venues – although to be fair, rumors persist that there could be a major shakeup in the upcoming 2015 slate.

But IndyCar officials are already thinking bigger and broader for next season – as in abroad, with a likely return to Brazil and a potential first-ever race in the Middle East.

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles and Derrick Walker, IndyCar president of operations and competition, told reporters Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway that the series will expand to 20 races in 2015, according to a report by the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin.

Although not totally set yet, series officials hope to soon finalize plans for a race in Dubai in early February, while a return to Brazil in early March appears likely before the U.S. part of the schedule begins March 29 in St. Petersburg, Fla., Cavin reported.

Miles described talks with Dubai officials and promoters as “ongoing, positive conversations,” according to Cavin.

The race in Brazil will be held in Brasilia, a shift from IndyCar’s prior four-year run in Sao Paulo from 2010 through 2013. The tentative race date is March 8. An official announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

Dates/races in 2015 already confirmed, according to Cavin, are:

* March 29 — St. Petersburg, Fla.

* April 19 – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

* May 10 – Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis

* May 24 – Indianapolis 500

* May 30-31 — Chevrolet Indy Dual doubleheader in Detroit

Another report by Motorsport.com added that IndyCar officials are open to return to former venues at Michigan International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, and have had preliminary talks about racing at Nashville Superspeedway, whose pending sale to NeXovation was recently announced by parent company Dover Motorsports.

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Weather prompts INDYCAR to move up start time of today’s race in Alabama

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The scheduled starting time for today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has been moved up due to inclement weather in the Birmingham, Alabama area.

The command to start engines is now scheduled for 3:01 p.m. ET, rather than the previous scheduled start of 3:35 p.m. ET. The race, which is expected to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET,  will be carried live on NBCSN.

In addition, the INDY LIGHTS race, previously scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET, saw its starting time moved up to 11:45 a.m. ET.

According to several different weather forecasts, thunderstorms are predicted for the afternoon, with some forecasts calling for up to 100 percent chance of storms.

The rain is expected to continue into the evening and on into Monday.

INDYCAR officials are monitoring the very fluid situation and further schedule adjustments could be made.

We’ll keep readers up to date on further changes here on MotorSportsTalk.