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

4 Comments

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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”