IndyCar’s Miles keen on 2016 schedule, eyes international races

INDYCAR Photo
(Photo courtesy IndyCar)
2 Comments

While three markets are gone, along with the return to two former open-wheel venues and the addition of a brand new venue, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season shapes up quite nicely.

That’s what Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said during a Tuesday morning teleconference marking the official announcement of the 2016 race schedule.

Once again, there will be 16 races on the IndyCar calendar. Fontana, Milwaukee and New Orleans (after just one race there) have been replaced by the return to Phoenix; Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.; and the debut of a street course race in Boston.

However, from a chronological standpoint, the season will actually stretch five weeks longer in time than 2016, including the necessity to run the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida, two weeks earlier due to a conflict with the Easter holiday.

Miles covered considerable ground in the nearly 45-minute press briefing. He was joined for part of the conference by reigning series champion Scott Dixon.

Here are some of the highlights from Miles’ comments:

KEEPING THE SCHEDULE AT 16 RACES: “With 16 races, we’ve hit kind of a sweet spot for the teams. We’ve got a lot of feedback that that’s a good number. And if we’re going to do 16 races, obviously we’ve made an exception with Detroit, but I think we’d be better off being in more markets. We just felt like if we can add another market, in this instance you can think of it as Boston, we think that’s a good thing.”

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500: “I think the 2016 season is really defined by the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. The IndyCar Series is all about history and there’s no better example in my mind in epic motorsports than the Indianapolis race. That event is legendary.”

ON THE ADDITION OF BOSTON TO THE SERIES SCHEDULE: “We are delighted to be able to add Boston to the 2016 schedule, particularly on the Labor Day weekend, when it gets down to crunch time for the 2016 championship.”

BUT THERE CONTINUES TO BE QUESTIONS ABOUT BOSTON DUE TO LOCAL OPPOSITION: “We understand the agreements are in place. I just don’t believe there are local impediments to doing the race there. That’s our understanding from both the city’s administration and our promoter. Before we announced it, we had seen all the work on the track, had met with folks from the convention center and Mayor’s office. There’s no big city where a street race might not create objections on the part of some people, but I think care has been taken to minimize any inconveniences in this example in Boston and I believe the city is going to embrace it.”

POSSIBILITY OF RACING IN MEXICO CITY IN 2017: “The spirits are willing but we have learned that patience is best and there’s no point in rushing a promoter. We want to make sure that any time we add an event, they have done everything necessary that it’s positioned to be a great IndyCar race. There’s no obstacle that caused it to fall over as an option or possibility, we just felt we should have more time to see if everything can definitely be in place, including TV arrangements, looking at the calendar there, making sure everything works at the track and with sponsors and the like. It’s a good open dialogue. It’s possible at this point that it could happen in ’17, but not certain. We both felt that it made sense to take our time and get it right, rather than be hasty.”

WHY DID MILWAUKEE LOSE ITS RACE DATE, AND WILL IT RETURN TO THE SCHEDULE IN THE NEAR FUTURE: “We could not find a Wisconsin promoter that we felt like could make all the pieces fit, and that’s unfortunate. We’d have liked to continue the history in Milwaukee and maybe some day we can get back. … In the end, it wasn’t any one, it was none, and that kind of made the decision for us. … Just sorry it didn’t work out this time. … I don’t feel terribly optimistic about it (a return any time soon), but darn it, the Milwaukee market ought to work for us. There’s a great tradition there. I would definitely say never say never. I mean, Phoenix and Elkhart Lake are back, and that’s definitely noteworthy in this context.”

THE PROSPECT OF INTERNATIONAL RACES ON THE SCHEDULE: “It’s a matter of time. We’ve talked about this as part of our calendar strategy since I got involved. But I want to be clear that we don’t see ourselves trying to become Formula One, where we go week-to-week and race-to-race around the globe. We see ourselves continuing fundamentally as primarily a North American-based series. But, particularly in February, we believe we will eventually identify a couple of international opportunities at the beginning of the championship calendar and that will be a great way to start the earliest part of the year. And then we’ll get back to the States like with St. Pete and in the same time frame as they are now. And then we’ll stay in North America and conclude the championship in North America.”

As for defending series champ Scott Dixon, he likes what he sees.

DIXON ON 2016 SCHEDULE: “It’s obviously, I think, a great schedule and something that has been improved from last year. And from other things on the plate, there are some exciting things in the pipeline for making the schedule even better.”

DIXON ON OPEN-WHEEL RACING’S RETURN TO BOTH PHOENIX AND ROAD AMERICA: “I’m very excited. Phoenix for me has always been a staple. … The track’s changed a little bit since we were last there in ’05. … With the changes made there, I think it’s going to be one hell of a race for us, as it definitely was for us in the past, too. Looking forward to that, it’s going to be a tough one. Nice to see an oval come up real early on the schedule. Typically, we’ve had to wait for the Indianapolis 500 for the first one. Great to see it back on the schedule. … Road America is a no-brainer. The last time I raced there was 2002. It’s just one of those legendary, old-school American tracks that we don’t get to see too often. It’s very reminiscent of Watkins Glen. I love Road America.”

NOTES:

* There will only be four overlaps between IndyCar races and NASCAR races, down from five in 2015. In addition, three of those four races will see IndyCar races follow NASCAR races on NBCSN.

* Half of the venues on the schedule have hosted IndyCar or its open-wheel predecessors (CART, Champ Car) for at least 25 races each.

* The season-ending race at Sonoma will be televised in prime time at 7 pm ET, as opposed to 4 pm ET this season.

* Miles said the series is looking at racing at Gateway Motorsports Park in the near future, perhaps as early as 2017.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
0 Comments

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans