IndyCar has taken yet another step towards further solidifying its race seasons for the next few years.
On Friday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and IndyCar and race organizers announced that they have reached agreement to continue the popular two-day weekend of back-to-back races in late May/early June through 2021.
In addition, there are also two other option years that could extend the agreement through 2023.
In addition, even though Texas Motor Speedway had sought to have the race weekend after the Indianapolis 500 returned to its 1.5-mile oval on the schedule, IndyCar’s agreement with the state of Michigan will keep the Belle Isle races on the weekend after Indy.
There are a few alterations to the former agreement between Michigan and indyCar, per a report by The Associated Press:
- Preparation and clean-up time, as well as overall access for race organizers and IndyCar to the Belle Isle property will be reduced to just 60 days after previously being 84 days to set up and tear down all remnants of the event, including retaining walls, hospitality tents and the like.
- The state will see an upward bump in the amount of money it will receive from race organizers, going from the previous $200,000 per year to $325,000, beginning next year.
- Also, Detroit GP organizers will give $125,000 per year for island improvements.
The GP has been held on Belle Isle, on the edge of Detroit’s downtown area, since 2012.
Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.
Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.
Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.
Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.
Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.
Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for the injured Oliver Askew, also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.