PORTLAND, Oregon – A return to the 0.75-mile Richmond Raceway at the end of June highlights INDYCAR’s 17-race 2020 schedule, which was announced Sunday on NBC during the pre-race show before the Grand Prix of Portland.
Richmond Raceway will return to the NTT IndyCar Series schedule for the first since 2009 and will be the only new addition on the 2020 schedule. The three-quarter-mile Virginia oval will play host under the lights on Saturday, June 27, and be the 11th race on the season.
The Richmond round is the only addition to the schedule. The lone subtraction is the August visit to the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, which completed its second tenure of IndyCar Series racing from 2013 to the 2018 ABC Supply 500 on August 18.
“We are pleased to return to the Mid-Atlantic region, one we know to be full of INDYCAR fans,” INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles said. “We’re also excited to return to historic Richmond Raceway, which was recently reimagined with a $30 million redevelopment project that modernized the infield for a better fan experience.”
The two-day race weekend will fall on the same weekend utilized for the previous nine NTT IndyCar Series races at Richmond dating back to 2001.
“Richmond Raceway’s history in motorsports dates back to 1946 when the track hosted two AAA Championship Car events,” Richmond Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier said. “After hosting INDYCAR from 2001-2009, we now look forward to the return of the NTT IndyCar Series for our fans at America’s Premier Short Track as part of a Mid-Atlantic festival of speed on June 26-27, 2020.”
The reaction to the 2020 schedule was fairly positive in the NTT IndyCar Series paddock prior to Sunday’s second Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.
“Pocono was probably my favorite oval, but it costs us between $400,000 to $500,000 a race,” IndyCar Series team owner Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports.com. “If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I want to spend it in front of somebody.
“It’s a shame, but even in the good old days, we never really attracted that many people.”
Rahal is very positive about the series return to Richmond because of its geographic location in the Eastern United States.
“Richmond is a fairly major market area with Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia nearby,” Rahal said. “I’m confident the racing will be better than when we were there before because back then the downforce levels were different and that limited the passing.
“I expect our race to be similar to what fans saw last week in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway.”
The 2020 season marks the second full season with the NBC Sports Group, which will air the races live on NBC and NBCSN in addition to programming on NBC Gold. The coverage will feature eight races on NBC, including a crescendo to the finish and NTT P1 Award qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. The remaining nine races will air on NBCSN.
For the 10th consecutive year, the NTT IndyCar Series season will kick off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, on Sunday, March 15. The opener on the scenic waterfront 1.8-mile temporary street circuit in the Gulf Coast city first hosted Indy cars in 2003 and has continuously since 2005.
The season will conclude for the second consecutive year at the historic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course, where the championship-deciding race will be held Sunday, Sept. 20 – again on NBC.
Other changes to the schedule include:
The Circuit of The Americas race, which was the second race of this season, will move to the fourth slot and be held Sunday, April 26.
After running the oval race at Iowa Speedway (Saturday, July 18), the series will have a three-week break as NBC and NBCSN focus on televising the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course returns to one of its traditional weekends, moving from Sunday, July 28, this season to Sunday, Aug. 16, next year. This will begin NBC’s crescendo to the finale, with three of the final four races on network television (Mid-Ohio, Portland and Laguna Seca).
The break between the final two races of the season will be reduced from two weeks to one. The Grand Prix of Portland will be held Sunday, Sept. 6, while the Monterey race held Sunday, Sept. 20. Both will air on NBC.
The NTT IndyCar Series showcases a diversity of tracks with a schedule comprised of seven held on permanent road courses, five on temporary street circuits and five on oval tracks.
The centerpiece of the schedule will be the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, featuring the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 24. The month will open with the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the speedway’s 2.439-mile road course on Saturday, May 9. Qualifying for the 500 is set for Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17.
The street race in Long Beach (Sunday, April 19) returns in April for a 37th consecutive year, which is second only to the Indianapolis 500 for most years in succession of Indy car races on the current schedule. Toronto’s Exhibition Place, another tenured event on the schedule, returns for a 36th year with its race on Sunday, July 12.
After celebrating its 10th INDYCAR race earlier this year, Barber Motorsports Park will host the NTT IndyCar Series on Sunday, April 5.
The Raceway at Belle Isle Park will host a doubleheader for the eighth consecutive year (Saturday-Sunday, May 30-31), both of which will be televised on NBC.
Texas Motor Speedway continues its tradition dating to 1997 of hosting a Saturday night summer race (June 6). In addition to Richmond, the NTT IndyCar Series will race Saturday night at Iowa Speedway (July 18) and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Aug. 22).
Road America again offers the season’s largest track at 4.048 miles, with the race set for Sunday, June 21, on NBC.
Broadcast times will be announced at a later date, but all track activity and additional exclusive content will be available on NBC Sports Gold, the direct-to-consumer product that brings subscribers closer to the NTT IndyCar Series than ever before.
INDYCAR remains committed to keeping the schedule at 17 races because current team sponsorship budgets are able to support that number of races. That is a move that some team owners applaud because it allows their teams to have a solid foundation, and even expand their operations.
2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE
March 15 — Streets of St. Petersburg, NBCSN
April 5 — Barber Motorsports Park, NBCSN
April 19 — Streets of Long Beach, NBCSN
April 26 — Circuit of the Americas, NBCSN
May 9 — Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, NBC
May 24 — 104th Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NBC
May 30 — Streets of Detroit, Race No. 1, NBC
May 31 — Streets of Detroit, Race No. 2, NBC
June 6 — Texas Motor Speedway, NBCSN
June 21 — Road America, NBC
June 27 — Richmond Raceway, NBCSN
July 12 — Streets of Toronto, NBCSN
July 18 — Iowa Speedway, NBCSN
August 16 — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, NBCSN
August 22 — World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, NBCSN
September 6 — Portland International Raceway, NBC
September 20 — WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, NBC