Phoenix Raceway prez: It’s up to IndyCar on possible return

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For almost a decade, Phoenix International Raceway – once one of open-wheel racing’s traditional strongholds – has not staged an IndyCar event. And, according to PIR president Bryan Sperber, the series doesn’t appear too interested in returning to the Valley of the Sun.

Sperber said that he would love to have IndyCar back at his one-mile oval, but noted this morning that “the ball is in their court” according to The Associated Press.

“Hopefully, the interest in Phoenix International Raceway becomes sufficient enough that they would like to pursue that opportunity,” he said. “But up to now, that doesn’t look like that’s in the cards.”

An increase in IndyCar oval races has been clamored for by many within the sport’s fan base, but these types of events have run into problems at the box office in recent years. IndyCar has only six ovals on its 2014 schedule: Indianapolis, Texas, Pocono, Iowa, Milwaukee, and Auto Club Speedway in Calfornia.

Sperber doesn’t want his track to take a financial bath on staging an IndyCar event, which is understandable. According to the AP report, he would have to spend close to $1 million to market such a race and cannot afford IndyCar’s current sanctioning fees with no guarantees on a decent attendance.

PIR held IndyCar/Indy Racing League races from 1996 to 2005, and both USAC and CART races from 1964 to 1995. Since 2006, NASCAR has provided the track’s major events.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.