Today’s FIA World Endurance Championship calendar release will have an impact into the Verizon IndyCar Series in terms of any of its drivers participating in WEC races next season.
Particularly Mike Conway, who’s been IndyCar’s part-time badass de jour the last two seasons and is attempting to figure out his future.
Conway has served as Toyota Racing’s reserve driver for 2014 and made his WEC debut at Austin last month. He may get the opportunity for one more WEC start this season, but surprisingly was not nominated to fill in for Nicolas Lapierre in his absence this weekend in Fuji.
In looking ahead to the 2015 WEC calendar just released, there are at least three and potentially up to five direct head-to-head conflicts between WEC and IndyCar.
The confirmed ones first:
- March 27-28: WEC Prologue Paul Ricard; IndyCar St. Petersburg
- April 12: WEC Silverstone; IndyCar NOLA
- May 31: WEC Le Mans Test Day; IndyCar Detroit
Granted, two of those three are official tests. But while Conway could afford to miss the test days as a reserve driver this year, it’s unlikely he’d be able to miss them as one of Toyota’s six regular full-season drivers.
The other two come if 2014 dates change weekends once they’re officially confirmed by IndyCar, and those would be at Toronto and Sonoma.
Toronto is expected to land a June date given the Pan-Am Games forcing a move from its usual July slot, and there’s only has two weekends it could realistically slot in – June 13-14 or 20-21.
If IndyCar moves its Iowa race to June 20 as is possible given a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, June 19, then there’s only one option.
That would pose another direct conflict, with Le Mans, June 13-14.
Of course that wouldn’t affect just Conway, but any IndyCar drivers who would want to run the midsummer endurance classic and would be able to if their contracts and schedules allow.
The potential last conflict would occur in August. Sonoma’s date was tentatively listed on the preliminary Pirelli World Challenge schedule as August 22-23 but is now likely to be the last weekend in August, per ticket renewal forms. That would run head-to-head with WEC at the Nurburgring on August 30.
So here’s what this means for Conway: he’s either in or out for one or the other. He can’t do both in terms of IndyCar and WEC, unless he only runs selected IndyCar rounds on non-conflicting WEC weekends.
And if he’s out in IndyCar, there’s a 2014 race-winning No. 20 CFH Racing Chevrolet seat that will need a driver for road and street course races. It would be a perfect landing spot for an American like JR Hildebrand or Conor Daly, for instance.
The ball is still in Conway’s court, but he’s now at the point where he’ll need to clone himself if he wants to keep the same schedule.