Fontana IndyCar race finds itself in a different place of sorts


There will be a much different vibe for IndyCar drivers in this Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

When IndyCar brought ACS back online in 2012 after a six-year absence from the schedule, the high-speed 2-mile Fontana, Calif., track became the de facto season-ending race.

And that’s the way it had been in 2012 (last of 15 races), 2013 (last of 19 races) and 2014 (last of 18 races).

But not 2015.

Instead of going on vacation, drivers will still have five more races after Saturday’s contest at Fontana.

ACS will host just the 11th race of this season’s 16-race schedule. As was the case in the three prior races, Saturday’s race will be a 250-lap event around the fastest track on the circuit.

It will also be the third of six oval track races on the 16-race schedule, meaning that four of this season’s last six events will be on an oval.

Meanwhile, nearly 500 miles to the north, Sonoma Raceway, which ironically enough hosts the NASCAR Sprint Cup series this weekend, will host the IndyCar season finale on Aug. 30.

Will Power, who clinched his IndyCar championship in last year’s season-ending race at Fontana, lamented the change in the schedule.

“It’s going to be a bit different going to Auto Club Speedway this year and not having it as the season finale,” Power said. “You know, I’m always going to think back to winning my first Verizon IndyCar Series championship there last year, so it’s always going to have that ‘end of year’ feeling to it.”

While he’s sad to see Fontana no longer be the season-ending race, Power admits the track has been both good and bad for him since it came back on the schedule in 2012.

“For me, Fontana has been a roller coaster of emotions over the last few years,” Power said. “We missed out on the championship there in 2012.

“I came back to score what I consider one of my greatest wins there the next year. And last year we finally closed the deal there to win the title.”

But lamenting won’t change the schedule. Power still understands that even though Fontana is no longer the season-ending race, he still has important business to take care of Saturday.

“I love racing there; I think we all do,” Power said. “It’s amazingly fast, but it’s wide enough where you don’t really feel wheel to wheel.

“It’s just a great place for our cars and I’m excited to go back and try to put the Verizon Chevy in Victory Lane there once again.”

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change