The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule has finally been released this Thursday, featuring a 17-race slate with two new venues.
Additionally, the number of doubleheader races has dropped and the second half of the schedule sees most races switch dates from their 2014 events.
New events are the two previously announced races in Brazil and New Orleans. Gone are the Houston doubleheader and one of the two Toronto races. The schedule drops from 18 races in 2014 to 17 in 2015.
“The Verizon IndyCar Series calendar represents another step forward in our strategy to grow the series,” Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a release.
“There were several factors that led to the positive momentum we experienced in 2014 and we will continue to execute on those initiatives – continuity in our broadcast schedule, strategic growth of our schedule and improvements to how we promote our events. The continued support from our television partners at ABC and NBCSN, and the ongoing collaboration with promoters, teams and sponsor partners gives us a lot of confidence about our future.”
The mooted second international race in Dubai is not listed on the schedule.
The first half of the season is fairly straightforward and has already been released drip-by-drip. The series’ return to Brazil will open the calendar on March 8, followed by St. Petersburg March 29, a week off and then three straight weekends in New Orleans, Long Beach and Barber in April.
The second Grand Prix of Indianapolis, now featuring new primary sponsor Angie’s List, kicks off the month of May on May 9. Practice and qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 follows before the 99th edition of the race itself May 24.
Detroit marks the lone doubleheader weekend May 30-31, followed by Texas June 6.
Then the schedule gets shifted quite a bit from where it was in 2014.
Toronto moves to June 14 and will be just a single race, as the city prepares to host the Pan-Am Games during the race’s usual July date. Despite rumors of a shift to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, the race stays at Exhibition Place.
Following a needed week off, IndyCar then heads west to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Saturday June 27, which will be that race’s fourth date in as many years. It was held Labor Day weekend this year, on Saturday night, August 30.
In July, the Milwaukee IndyFest moves from August, which had just moved from June this current year. Milwaukee runs July 11-12. Milwaukee is paired with Iowa Speedway, which moves back only a week later in July to Saturday night, July 18. The short-track twin bill is also likely to include several of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series.
Mid-Ohio is next up on August 2. A two-week break follows before IndyCar heads to Pocono on August 23 for 500 miles – after both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races – and finally will head west once more for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway August 30.
The Sonoma finale marks the first time under INDYCAR sanction (dating to 1996) that the series will end its points-paying season on a road or street course rather than an oval. Previous oval season finale venues have been Fontana (2005, 2012-’14), Kentucky (2011; Las Vegas canceled), Homestead (2009-2010), Chicago (2006-2008), Texas (1999-2004), Las Vegas (1997-1998) and Indianapolis (1996).
The last North American open-wheel season to end on a road or street course was Champ Car at Mexico City in 2007; meanwhile INDYCAR ran a non-championship race at Surfers’ Paradise, Australia in 2008 after that season ended at Chicago.
Here is the schedule in full, with broadcast networks listed alongside. NBCSN will feature 12 races, including the season-opener at Brazil, and the final eight races of the year from Texas through Sonoma.
3/8 Brazil (NBCSN)
3/29 St. Petersburg (ABC)
4/12 New Orleans (NBCSN)
4/19 Long Beach (NBCSN)
4/26 Barber (NBCSN)
5/9 GP of Indianapolis (Saturday, ABC)
5/16-17 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying (ABC)
5/24 Indianapolis 500 (ABC)
5/30-31 Detroit (Doubleheader, both ABC)
6/6 Texas (Saturday night, NBCSN)
6/14 Toronto (NBCSN)
6/27 Fontana (Saturday, NBCSN)
7/12 Milwaukee (NBCSN)
7/18 Iowa (Saturday night, NBCSN)
8/2 Mid-Ohio (NBCSN)
8/23 Pocono (NBCSN)
8/30 Sonoma (NBCSN)
The timeslots of the 12 NBCSN races are below:
2015 INDYCAR RACE COVERAGE
|Sun., March 8||Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet – Brazil||NBCSN||11 a.m.|
|Sun., April 12||NOLA Motorsports Park||NBCSN||3 p.m.|
|Sun., April 19||Streets of Long Beach||NBCSN||4 p.m.|
|Sun., April 26||Barber Motorsports Park||NBCSN||3 p.m.|
|Fri., May 22||Carb Day – Indianapolis Motor Speedway||NBCSN||11 a.m.|
|Sat., June 6||Texas Motor Speedway||NBCSN||8 p.m.|
|Sun., June 14||Streets of Toronto||NBCSN||3 p.m.|
|Sat., June 27||Auto Club Speedway||NBCSN||4 p.m.|
|Sun., July 12||The Milwaukee Mile||NBCSN||5 p.m.|
|Sat., July 18||Iowa Speedway||NBCSN||8 p.m.|
|Sun., August 2||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||NBCSN||1:30 p.m.|
|Sun., August 23||Pocono Raceway||NBCSN||2 p.m.|
|Sun., August 30||Sonoma Raceway||NBCSN||4 p.m.|