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.”