Even though the 2018 season still has one race to go, IndyCar officials are already thinking about next year, announcing the series’ 2019 schedule Tuesday morning.
The number of races will remain the same at 17 events. However, there will be two venue changes: Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, will replace ISM Raceway in Phoenix on the schedule, and Laguna Seca will assume the season-ending race in place of Sonoma Raceway.
All events will be carried by the NBC Sports Group, including NBC and NBCSN, and will be highlighted by the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019.
COTA has long been mentioned as a potential venue for IndyCar. The 3.426-mile permanent road course becomes the second-longest track on the circuit, behind Road America (4.048 miles) in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
COTA becomes the second track in the state of Texas to host an IndyCar race, the other being longtime series host Texas Motor Speedway (has hosted 30 races since 1997), which recently reached agreement on a new four-year deal with the sanctioning body.
“COTA is one of the finest motorsports facilities in the world and Austin is a happening city,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Co., which owns IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “This a natural fit for the IndyCar Series.
“Indy car racing has a large and passionate fan base in Texas with a hunger to attend more races. This added date will allow us to deliver both oval and road course events to the state in a single season.”
AddedCOTA founder and chairman Bobby Epstein, “It’s going to be spectacular. Our entire team at COTA is excited to welcome the teams, drivers and visitors to our great city, and we know Austin will give them a warm welcome.”
There will be a nearly three-month window between the March 24 event at COTA and the Saturday night, June 8 event at TMS.
The other addition to the 2019 schedule, which was announced last month, is the 2.238-mile WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway permanent road course near Monterey, California.
IndyCar returns to Laguna Seca after a 15-year absence. Indy cars have contested 22 races there over the years, the last being in 2004.
The rest of the series remains the same as 2018 in terms of venues, starting for the ninth consecutive year with the Grand Prix on the Streets of St. Petersburg (Florida) on March 10.
All told, there will once again be a wide breath of diversity on the schedule, with races on seven permanent road courses, five temporary street courses and five ovals.
“IndyCar has worked to deliver a consistency and cadence to the schedule and that is reflected again in 2019,” Miles said. “We’ve added races at a pair of tracks that know how to put on fantastic events, while returning to tracks where INDYCAR has longstanding relationships on familiar race dates.
“The diversity of next year’s schedule will continue to make what we believe is the most challenging and competitive championship in motorsports.”
The other major element to note is NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the entire series in 2019, the first of a three-year multimedia rights deal with IndyCar.
Eight of next season’s races will air on the NBC network, highlighted by the Indy 500. The other nine races will be carried on NBCSN.
Additional exclusive content will available on NBC Sports Gold, the direct-to-consumer product that will bring subscribers closer to IndyCar racing than ever before.
Here’s how the 2019 IndyCar schedule looks:
March 10: Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida
March 24: Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
April 7: Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
April 14: Streets of Long Beach, California
May 11: IndyCar Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
May 26: 103rd Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval
June 1: Streets of Detroit, Race 1, Detroit, Michigan
June 2: Streets of Detroit, Race 2, Detroit, Michigan
June 8: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas*
June 23: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
July 14: Streets of Toronto, Canada
July 20: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa*
July 28: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
Aug. 18: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Aug. 24: Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Illinois*
Sept. 1: Portland International Raceway, Portland, Oregon
Sept. 22: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Salinas, California
(Schedule subject to change)