INDYCAR appears close to filling its vacant Boston gap on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with a race at Watkins Glen International for Labor Day weekend, per multiple reports.
Mid-last-week, Autosport contacted Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles – head of INDYCAR’s parent company – who said that Watkins Glen and Gateway were leading candidates to replace the canceled Boston round, although no race was yet confirmed. Miles did tell Autosport’s Bruce Martin that a decision would likely be due next week.
And in a matter of hours this evening, the Watkins Glen appearing closer if not quite at the finish line stories are emerging, with Motorsport.com, RACER.com and USA Today Sports (via Indianapolis Star) all offering some variation of the “it’s close and it isn’t yet announced but it’s moving to that point” report.
Miles’ optimism is there and it appears any deal would need to see some form of communication this week between Watkins Glen track president Michael Printup and INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye. There’s also the matter of a Ferrari event on the Labor Day weekend, which the track has held for years, and how that fits into the equation.
IndyCar last had a six-year run at the track from 2005 to 2010. Our NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell tossed a poll out last week asking where you’d want to go, and Watkins Glen was the favorite among the fans.
Meanwhile, there’s been a fair bit of testing at the newly repaved track this week. Per the track, Chip Ganassi Racing (with its two Ford GTs), Stevenson Motorsports (Audi R8 LMS), and BMW Team RLL (BMW M6 GTLM) have all been testing there today in advance of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round the first weekend of June.
Richard Westbrook, who co-drove the No. 67 Ganassi Ford to victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Ryan Briscoe last week, as well as Andrew Davis, co-driver of the No. 6 Stevenson Audi with Robin Liddell, posted pics of the newly resurface tracks on Twitter.
As ever with INDYCAR, nothing is a done deal until the ink on the contract is signed, the check clears and the green flag drops, but there’s enough positive momentum emanating from these series of reports to where the likelihood of it happening is far higher than it was last week.
We ran a post last week suggesting possible Boston replacement options, and Simon Pagenaud also told NBC Sports during a conference call last week that he’d love to have Watkins Glen on the calendar.
“I hope we can replace the race. For sure, I’m thinking of Watkins Glen,” Pagenaud said. “I’ve never been there, but it looks like a beautiful track. It’s been repaved, as well, recently. That would be a good market and really cool track to go to.”