The Verizon IndyCar Series’ trip to Phoenix International Raceway will have its third date in April in as many years in 2018, as revealed in paperwork filed with International Speedway Corp.’s 2016 Annual Report. The spring 2018 race dates were listed as part of Phoenix’ wider plans for track changes, including a move of the Start/Finish line past Turn 2 (more here from NASCAR Talk).
After running on April 2 for the series’ return for the first time in 11 years in 2016, the date shifts to April 29 this year, in part due to the NCAA Men’s Final Four which takes place in Phoenix on the first weekend of April this year. Easter this year is April 16.
In 2018, Phoenix will run April 13-14, on the third weekend of the month, with another Saturday race. April 1 is Easter Sunday in 2018.
With Long Beach moving up in April for 2017 to the April 7-9 weekend, one weekend ahead of Easter and three ahead of Phoenix, it may occur in 2018 that for the first time Phoenix and Long Beach would actually be on back-to-back weekends.
If Long Beach was to keep the same weekend in 2018, that’d be April 6-8, and thus one weekend ahead of Phoenix, which would make it easier for all series participants from a logistical standpoint.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.