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IMSA schedule day provides some 2018 IndyCar dates

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The full 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar isn’t out yet but between dates already announced and then dates that have been announced today via IMSA, with three of its series calendars getting released, you can start penciling in weekends on the IndyCar calendar.

IMSA confirms four 2018 IndyCar dates. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will continue alongside the Long Beach and Detroit dates, and those are April 13-14 (Long Beach) and June 1-2 (Detroit) respectively.

IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama also will run on two IndyCar weekends at Barber Motorsports Park and Sonoma Raceway. Those dates were revealed for April 21-22 (Barber) and Sept. 14-16 (Sonoma).

The pair of April confirmations for Long Beach and Barber, coupled with the one-year only move of Phoenix from the first weekend in April to the last weekend of April owing to the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship, also indirectly confirms that race moves forward a week ahead of Long Beach to April 7.

In January this year, International Speedway Corp.’s 2016 Annual Report listed Phoenix’s date as April 13-14, but that date was incorrect. Phoenix will instead move to the weekend before Long Beach and provide a West Coast back-to-back run for the Verizon IndyCar Series teams; this was noted by NBCSN contributor Robin Miller last month.

With St. Petersburg kicking off the season on March 11, then with the month of May dates for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 102nd Indianapolis 500 on May 12 and May 27, respectively, most of the dates for 2018 are already coming into full focus.

Mexico City rumors continue to percolate as well; while all 2017 races are locked into the 2018 schedule, and most figure to be on the same weekends, INDYCAR (sanctioning body) has not yet set a time frame to announce the full schedule.

It is worth noting that Daytona, rather than Kentucky, takes on the July 7-8 weekend (would be Iowa’s weekend for IndyCar) for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and will run on Saturday night on NBC. Kentucky shifts a week later to Saturday night, July 14 (would be Toronto’s weekend) and runs on NBCSN.

And unless there are any major or unforeseen changes, the date equity long sought after for INDYCAR may be becoming a reality.

Here’s the announced Verizon IndyCar Series dates in 2018:

  • March 11, St. Petersburg
  • April 7, Phoenix
  • April 15, Long Beach
  • April 22, Barber
  • May 12, INDYCAR Grand Prix
  • May 27, Indianapolis 500
  • June 2-3, Detroit doubleheader
  • June 24, Road America
  • Sept. 16, Sonoma

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski