2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule will be announced on NBC Sunday

NBC Sports Group Photo

PORTLAND, Oregon – The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule will be revealed on NBC during the network’s pre-race show before its telecast of the Grand Prix of Portland.

The 30-minute pre-race will be on NBC beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles will reveal the 2020 schedule from 3:18 p.m. to 3:23 p.m. Eastern Time. The schedule will also be revealed at that time on NBCSports.com.

It’s another tremendous example of the positive synergy between INDYCAR and its broadcast partner at NBC.

“We greatly appreciate our partnership with the NBC Sports Group an opportunity to share our 2020 schedule with a national network audience during Sunday’s pre-race show for the Grand Prix of Portland,” INDYCAR Vice President of Communications Mike Zizzo told NBC Sports.com. “We’ll be sharing a few new wrinkles to the schedule that should enhance the excitement of the 2020 season.”

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule has been the focus of speculation for the past month regarding the possibility of new changes to the schedule. That will all be revealed on NBC during the INDYCAR Pre-Race Show.

That will be followed by 105 laps of action about the 12-turn, 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway road course, the next-to-last race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season.

Josef Newgarden, the 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion, takes a 38-point lead over 2016 champion and Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud into Sunday’s contest. Alexander Rossi is third, 46 points behind and five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is 70 points back with just two races remaining.

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.