Report: Phoenix closing in on IndyCar return for 2016

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Phoenix International Raceway is closer to returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar than it has been at any point in the past ten years, according to a new report.

azcentral.com reports that a date and distance for a race in 2016 have already been agreed by the circuit and INDYCAR, but that a firm deal still remains unsigned.

PIR last hosted an IndyCar race back in 2005, won by Sam Hornish Jr., and although a return has been mooted for some time, plans have failed to come to fruition.

However, according to circuit president Bryan Sperber, a deal is closer now that it has been since the race fell off the calendar ten years ago.

“This is the closest we’ve been in ten years,” Sperber told azcentral sports.

“We working hard on it but it’s not a done deal. There have been things we’ve worked hard on in the past that didn’t [happen].”

Earlier this year, Hulman and Co. (INDYCAR’s parent company) CEO Mark Miles confirmed that Phoenix was being discussed when formulating the calendar, and suggested a date as early as February to give the circuit’s NASCAR events plenty of breathing room.

According to the report, a date of April 2 2016 has been agreed by PIR and INDYCAR, with the race running for 250 miles that evening. This would see it slot in two weeks before the Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 17).

Hulman and Co. chief revenue officer Jay Frye confirmed that there was a desire to return to PIR from both the circuit and INDYCAR, and that every effort would be made to take the series back for 2016.

“I think there’s genuine enthusiasm on both sides,” Frye said.

“Phoenix is very important to the league, our partners and fans. We’re making every attempt to explore every option to go back there.”

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”