Matthew Brabham completes first IndyCar test, eyes 2016 Indy 500

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Today, Iowa. Next year, Indianapolis, perhaps?

That’s what Matthew Brabham is hoping for, after completing his first-ever full IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport on Thursday at Iowa Speedway.

Brabham split the test in the AA Dallara-Honda with potential future teammate Marco Andretti.

“I had an absolute blast today,” Brabham told SpeedCafe.com. “I have wanted to drive an IndyCar for so long now and to finally get a chance was awesome.

“Driving an IndyCar … for the first time was definitely different to what I am used to, the speed, power and downforce were a big jump. But it did not take me too long and I was up to speed quickly and started to work through the program the team wanted to do.

“It was great working with Marco and drawing off his experience, a short oval is not the easiest place to drive for the first time in one of these cars. But with his and the teams’ help it all came together pretty quickly for me.”

Brabham hopes to secure a ride for the 100th Indianapolis 500 next May, a race that would hold a lot of personal meaning to the 21-year-old Brabham, as it would mark the 55th anniversary of his late grandfather Sir Jack Brabham’s first racing effort at Indy (finished ninth in 1961).

That would be the first of five appearances by the elder Brabham in the 500, and his best finish.

Sir Jack would win three Formula 1 championships. He passed away May 14, 2014 at the age of 88.

If the younger Brabham makes the 500 field next year, he’d become only the third third-generation driver to achieve such a feat along with the Andrettis and Vukovich families.

The son of Geoff Brabham, the younger Brabham drove full-time for Andretti Autosport on the Indy Lights Series in 2014, winning one race (Indianapolis road course) and finishing fourth for the season.

He has made just three starts in the first 10 events this season before funding ran out, with a seventh (St. Petersburg 1) and two 11th-place-finishes (St. Petersburg 2) and Long Beach.

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Here are the starting times for 2020 NTT IndyCar Series action on NBC and NBCSN

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Another important tidbit for NTT IndyCar Series fans is out as INDYCAR and NBC announced starting times for the 2020 season. The full television schedule is also included.

There are different starting times at four races in 2020 from 2019. Those include the March 15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas on April 26, a later starting time for the Saturday night race at Iowa Speedway on July 18 on NBCSN

INDYCAR released the green flag times today for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season that features starting time shifts at four races – St. Petersburg, Circuit of The Americas, Iowa and Mid-Ohio – and the anticipated evening return to Richmond Raceway.

Those four returning races represent the only significant green flag start time changes from a year ago in the 17-race 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, beginning with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

The August 16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be moved to an earlier starting time and will be broadcast on NBC. Previously, the race was scheduled for 4:05 p.m., but has been changed to a 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time green flag.

INDYCAR’s return to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, June 27 will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET. That is the only new event on the schedule.

Detailed broadcast information for the entire season will be announced at a later date.

Here are the notable changes to the starting times on the schedule:

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which began at 1:40 p.m. ET this past season, will now have a 3:30 p.m. green flag. The race on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will be celebrating its 10thanniversary as the series’ season opener and be televised on NBC Sports Network.

The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, April 26, will have a similar shift, moving from a 1:43 p.m. ET green flag this past season to 4:10 p.m. (3:10 p.m. local) in 2020. The permanent road course in Austin, Texas, will play host to the fourth race of the season and be broadcast on NBCSN.

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway, set for Saturday, July 18, on NBCSN, will be better accommodated for an evening race under the lights with the green flag moving from 7:15 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local).

“The return of a night race for INDYCAR at Iowa Speedway is exciting news for our race fans, sponsors, and the entire region,” Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt said. “The cars look great under the lights, and the competition should be even more fierce given what should be cooler conditions. Our track provides some of the best racing you’ll see anywhere, which will be good for attendance. This will be a can’t-miss weekend for all race fans.”

The return to a true night race at Iowa was the result of fans requesting it. The race will begin at 8:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. And for fans and drivers, it is nostalgic, hearkening back to the first race many of them experienced … a night race on a short track.

The series hasn’t held a race that began after dusk at Iowa Speedway since 2015, and drivers and fans are welcoming it. Not only does it look more vibrant — and create sparks as cars bottom out — it also makes for better racing. Tires grip better when the track is cooler. Fans also avoid sweltering conditions during summer afternoons.

The Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, Aug. 16, will be the only race among the four that moves to an earlier start time. The race, which had a 4:05 p.m. ET start this past season, will shift to a 12:45 p.m. green flag in 2020 and be televised on NBC.

The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Richmond Raceway – the only new addition on the 2020 schedule – for the 11th race of the season on Saturday, June 27. The field will take the green flag at 8:15 ET for the start of the first Indy car race at the .75-mile oval since 2009. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN.