2015 IndyCar schedule due out Thursday, and could Dubai be on?

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It’s the story that needs to drop for planning purposes across several championships in 2015: it’s the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Derrick Walker, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations, has told MotorSportsTalk and other media outlets the plan is to have the schedule out by the end of the month, we now have a specific day planned.

Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star reported in his Q&A this morning the schedule will be announced Thursday, August 30. That adds up for the end of the month. An IndyCar spokesperson confirmed the schedule release date of Thursday.

Of note, Auto Club Speedway has indicated a public unhappiness for its 2014 Labor Day weekend date; Andretti Sports Marketing president John Lopes told me of Milwaukee that he didn’t see date equity as a problem because the event “hadn’t found the right date yet.”

Confirmed races thus far include:
3/8 Brazil
3/29 St. Petersburg
4/12 NOLA
4/19 Long Beach
4/26 Barber
5/9 GP Indy
5/24 Indy 500
5/30-31 Detroit
6/6 Texas (Sat. night)
8/2 Mid-Ohio
8/30 Sonoma

Races currently without officially confirmed dates include Pocono, Iowa, Toronto, Milwaukee and ACS. It is not anticipated that the series will add additional events beyond those either already confirmed or having been on the 2014 schedule.

DUBIOUS DUBAI? 

There is one outstanding wild card, and that is the mooted, on-again, off-again, potential international race in Dubai. Noted Twitter IndyCar link hound Matt Archuleta (@Indy44) found this nugget on, of all things, Carlos Huertas’ website.

Huertas – the unheralded, quiet Colombian rookie who won Houston race one this season – has made almost no overtones or undertones about wanting to return to IndyCar for a second season. But that Dubai date, February 22, would fall almost completely in line with the wishes and desires of Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles – head of INDYCAR’s parent company – wanting to start the season in February.

From an overall team standpoint, a Dubai race would make some sense as it would allow for some winter running and give the previously announced Brasilia, Brazil race a pairing in terms of the teams running their cars without the new-for-2015 aero kits. And it would give the crews an actual race to be at prior to March.

The one catch from an overall motors standpoint? February 22 is the Daytona 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup’s marquee race, and a day that draws more on-site media coverage than most other events.

IndyCar would essentially be resigning itself to a season opener halfway around the world, on at a poor hour for most U.S. fans (you think the kvetching at Fontana was bad? This would be worse), and with a past history of announcing international races that have often come up snake-eyes in terms of it actually happening.

I’m not sure if this is a previously stated mantra, but a good way to describe motorsports at times is: “as the money flows, so the series goes.” And one would hope the financial benefit of running a Dubai race would offset the potential poor PR or lack of media interest that could follow for a season opener on the same day when most racing fans’ eyes are fixated on Daytona.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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