Don’t rule out IndyCar at Road America, but don’t believe it yet, either

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Open-wheel fans have, since the unification of IndyCar and Champ Car in 2008, clamored for Elkhart Lake, Wis.’s Road America to return to the schedule. Consider a Friday report from The Business Journal serving Greater Milwaukee the latest in the “will it or won’t it” actually happen category.

Senior reporter Rich Kirchen spoke to IndyCar’s vp of business affairs, Matt Breeden, in advance of next weekend’s Milwaukee IndyFest at The Milwaukee Mile. Breeden didn’t dismiss the possibility that Road America could happen for IndyCar in 2014, if the finances work out.

“They (Road America) have been complementary to Milwaukee in the past,” Breeden told Kirchen, noting that races in Milwaukee and Elkhart Lake would not be mutually exclusive. “I wouldn’t rule it out in the future.”

The sticking points in recent attempts have been both the sanctioning fee amount, and finding a suitable date given the close proximity of the two events (60 miles).

Last year, Road America, the 4-mile road course, was tossed around as a potential last-minute, 16th event replacement for the canceled IndyCar race in China, but was not added.

Road America has always said it needed to make financial sense for the track, and in an interview I conducted with track president George Bruggenthies last year, he said the sticking point was that what IndyCar was asking was too high.  A year later, the principals Bruggenthies mentioned are no longer in a leadership position for IndyCar (Randy Bernard has since been ousted as series CEO), which leaves open the opportunity to negotiate.

Road America’s schedule highlights for 2013 include the NASCAR Nationwide Series (pictured) in two weeks, on June 22. Later, on August 10-11, the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series are on the same weekend but race separate races. The ALMS will be amalgamated into GRAND-AM next year, and conceivably, could leave room for another series to run on that weekend.

The last open-wheel race at Road America, Champ Car in 2007, ran on that same August weekend as ALMS.

Everything about an open-wheel reunion with Road America makes sense in theory, but only as soon as the dollars do for all parties, can the dream turn into reality.

Will Power nips Jack Harvey near end to pace Road America practice

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Will Power led the only IndyCar Road America practice of the weekend Saturday, shooting to the top of the chart on his 22nd and final lap of the session at 1 minute, 46.0021 seconds in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet.

Dixon knocked Jack Harvey’s No. 60 Dallara-Honda from the top spot (which would have marked the first time that a Meyer-Shank Racing car led practice).

Josef Newgarden, Power’s Team Penske teammate, was third, followed by Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay (who went off course late in the session but sustained no damage).

Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, defending race winner Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top 10 in the practice that preceded a Saturday-Sunday race weekend doubleheader for IndyCar at Road America.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Click here to see who was fastest in the session

RACE INFORMATION: What you need to know for today’s REV Group Grand Prix

RATED ROOKIE: Rinus VeeKay rebounding well from a tough debut

IndyCar tested some new cooling devices with cars from Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. Several drivers have said the cockpit heat caused by the new aeroscreen was stifling during last week’s GMR Grand Prix, and IndyCar repositioned drink bottles this weekend to keep liquids cool

Scott Dixon, who is seeking to open the season with his third consecutive IndyCar victory, was 15th fastest at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course. Other notables in Road America practice: Marco Andretti (12th), Simon Pagenaud (19th).

Power is aiming for his second consecutive pole position after qualifying first last week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Qualifying for the REV Group Grand Prix Race #1 will take place at 2:15 p.m. ET (NBCSNNBC Sports Gold).

The broadcast of the IndyCar race at Road America will begin at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.