Mark Miles provides latest update on 2016 schedule, 100th Indy 500 plans with IMS Radio

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Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, the head of INDYCAR’s parent company, has provided a handful of updates in an interview with IMS Radio’s Paul Page and Mark Jaynes on Saturday at Pocono Raceway.

While Auto Club Speedway track president Dave Allen had expanded on why ACS would not be on the 2016 schedule in an interview with the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Miles hadn’t expanded beyond the quote issued in INDYCAR’s press release confirming the track’s absence.

Miles did take the opportunity to do so during the interview with IMS Radio this morning.

“Fontana is a difficult situation. We think it’s a great track. But the one that we couldn’t collectively get over is that they would like to be the finale,” Miles told IMS Radio.

“We’d love to be on a super speedway. But they also need to be at night. And that was true if we put them late – like late September. We are not comfortable with an event ending at 1 a.m. on the East Coast. Our paddock understands that.

“In the end, we need to reach more people and it’s hard to do early in the morning.”

The race ended late in the first three night races back on the schedule in mid-September 2012, mid-October 2013 and late August 2014, as the season finale.

Asked whether the race could be run live at a good time for locals and a better time for TV, Miles said that was not feasible.

“I was just talking with a fan earlier, run the race for local purposes and delay it. You can’t do that,” Miles said. “It’s not something we love happening. I hope people understand for the growth of the series, we need to crown our champion with a lot of people watching.”

Miles also provided a more general update on the 2016 schedule, which should be out ideally within the next month, although is unlikely to be out by the Sonoma season finale next week.

“Let’s start with the calendar. It’ll start a little earlier, I don’t know exactly how much yet, but at least by middle of March (which is when St. Petersburg is currently scheduled, March 11-13), to at least middle of September,” Miles said.

“About the same total number of races. I expect there’s a race or two like Fontana that won’t be with us. We announced Boston on the Labor Day weekend. A lot of talk about Phoenix and it’s no secret we’re close to the finish line to get it back on the calendar. And a couple other events we’re still working on.”

Miles also spoke about goals of increasing attendance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on an annual basis, and what that entails for the Verizon IndyCar Series on the whole.

“The last couple years have shown that the race would go again. We had a total of 400,000 for the year in 2013. We need to get that to 600,000 for ’18. We’re well on our way after two years,” Miles said.

“The 500 is growing. The Grand Prix is now there. It’s because of concerts like Rolling Stones, although not many like that. There are more during races. We brought back Vintage Racing. There will be more announcements for IndyCar fans.

“We are determined as we can be to make sure the success Speedway in May radiates out to help the IndyCar series. You can’t have a great 500 without a great league.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).