Indianapolis Motor Speedway updates status of the Indy 500

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway has addressed the Centers for Disease Control’s March 15 recommendation that crowds larger than 50 be limited for eight weeks.

In a statement early Monday morning, the track said it’s aware of the CDC guideline and is planning for all contingencies but also will be prepared to run its events in May.

The track opens in earnest with the first week of May with the GMR Grand Prix scheduled Saturday, May 9 on its road course.

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IMS then switches over to the oval the next week for Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 16-17 and the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

IndyCar announced last week that its first four races of the season would be canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In comments to the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer this week, track owner Roger Penske said he was “working on many options” for the race.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reported earlier this week that contingency plans had been considered for postponing the race to the summer of fall if the outbreak has yet to subside. The IBJ estimated the race has an economic impact of more than $200 million on the region, which would rule out any cancellation.

IndyCar was to have raced April 26 in Austin, Texas, at the Circuit of the Americas, which has laid off staff and moved to a status of “limited use” because of the outbreak.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a grandstand capacity of more than 250,000 and regularly draws a sellout crowd of 300,000 to the Indy 500. Last month, Penske (who bought IMS in January) told NASCAR on NBC analyst Kyle Petty that 78% of its grandstand tickets and all of it suites had been sold for the Indy 500.

Here’s the statement Monday from IMS:

“We are aware of the CDC’s interim guidance suggesting the postponement of events involving more than 50 people over the next eight weeks. Our priority is to do our part in protecting the public health while still conducting the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge as scheduled on May 24.

“This continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly in coordination with federal, state, local and public health officials. We are planning for all contingencies and will be prepared to run the GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 as the COVID-19 situation permits.”