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American Flat Track

American Flat Track adds Indy Mile to 2020 schedule this weekend

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American Flat Track will return to the Indy Mile at The Indiana State Fairgrounds, adding a doubleheader race event Friday and Saturday on the same weekend as the Indy 500.

It’s the first race at the Indy venue since 2015 for AFT, which added the Indy Mile as its second event this season after an July 31-Aug. 1 event in Lima, Ohio, was canceled.

The season opened with a July 17-18 doubleheader weekend at Volusia Speedway Park. Coverage of AFT events is available via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s the updated 2020 schedule:

July 17-18 (Friday-Saturday): Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, Florida

Aug. 21-22 (Friday-Saturday):  Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis

Sept. 5-6 (Saturday-Sunday): Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois

Sept. 11-12 (Friday-Saturday): Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Sept. 25-26 (Friday-Saturday): Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Dallas, Texas

Oct. 2-3 (Friday-Saturday): Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, Georgia

Oct. 9-10 (Friday-Saturday): Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina

Oct. 15-16 (Thursday-Friday): AFT season finale, Daytona Beach, Florida

Here’s the release from the American Flat Track series:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – On the heels of its long-awaited season opener, American Flat Track makes the exciting announcement of its return to the legendary Indy Mile at The Indiana State Fairgrounds and Event Center for a doubleheader event on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22 – the same weekend as one of the most anticipated events in all of motorsports: The Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For the avid racing enthusiast, the opportunity to witness America’s Original Extreme Sport race back-to-back just before the legendary Indy 500 presents an unprecedented opportunity for fans to enjoy a supreme weekend of American motorsports.

AFT officials continue to collaborate with public health experts to develop this comprehensive plan in accordance with all federal, state and local requirements. All race-day procedures have been thoroughly reviewed and will continue to be examined and updated to follow specific guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local authorities.

At all American Flat Track events new guidelines and protocols will include:

  • Reduction in ticket availability to conform with state and local guidelines for sporting events – 25% capacity for this event
  • Reserved seating areas to include buffer zones to provide ample space between fans
    Everyone (including fans, competitors, staff, etc.) on-property will undergo a medical screening prior to admittance into the facility
  • Everyone entering the venue will be required to wear facial coverings. Masks will be provided at no charge.
  • Enhanced sanitation and disinfection protocols with frequent cleaning throughout the facility
    Enhancements to mobile ticketing and elimination of printed tickets
    Regular medical screening of staff and competitors
  • As an additional precaution, there will be no public access to the paddock area and AFT officials have suspended Fan Walk, rider autograph sessions and paddock upgrades for the remainder of the season. Event-specific health & safety procedures will be updated to meet or exceed state and local requirements as they are updated over the coming months.

In most recent memory, Brad “The Bullet” Baker scored a commanding victory at this lauded venue aboard his Harley-Davidson XR750 in 2015. Plans to resurface the racetrack had seen this historic venue fall off of AFT’s schedule, but upon learning that the track’s original surface remains intact, AFT officials seized the opportunity to bring this fan and rider favorite back into the fold.

“We are very excited to be returning to race at the famous Indy Mile,” said Michael Lock, CEO of American Flat Track. “AFT fans have a real soft spot for this historic venue that evokes fond memories of Kenny Roberts and the Yamaha TZ750 and many, many fast and fierce races since. To be able to race during the weekend of the Indy 500 represents a real bonus, as we will be able to showcase our sport to a whole new audience in addition to AFT’s loyal Midwest fanbase.”

A staple within the memories of flat track historians, the Indy Mile was a part of the inaugural Grand National Championship season in 1954 and has been won by many legends of the sport. Names like Chris Carr, Scott Parker, Jay Springsteen, Bubba Shobert, Ricky Graham and Kenny Roberts are all etched into the list of victors at The Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The event also brings the return of Mile racing for the AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class. Shayna Texter is the only active AFT Singles rider with a win at the facility. In the AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines class, Bryan Smith and Sammy Halbert are the only two active riders with premier class wins at Indy while JD Beach and Jarod Vanderkooi each have wins to their credit in the AFT Singles class.

In the wake of the mandatory Lima Half-Mile cancellation and last-minute track reconfiguration of the Laconia Short Track, AFT is thrilled to be able to add the Indy Mile I and Indy Mile II to its schedule in its effort to provide its fans with a full season of American Flat Track racing.

The updated 2020 American Flat Track schedule follows:

1. July 17: Volusia Half-Mile I – Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, FL

2. July 18: Volusia Half-Mile II – Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, FL

3. August 21: Indy Mile I – Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN

4. August 22: Indy Mile II – Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN

5. September 5: Springfield Mile I – Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL

6. September 6: Springfield Mile II – Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL

7. September 11: Williams Grove Half-Mile I – Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA

8. September 12: Williams Grove Half-Mile II – Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA

9. September 25: Dallas Half-Mile I – Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Dallas, TX

10. September 26: Dallas Half-Mile II – Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Dallas, TX

11. October 2: Atlanta Short Track I – Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA

12. October 3: Atlanta Short Track II – Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA

13. October 9: Charlotte Half-Mile I – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC

14. October 10: Charlotte Half-Mile II – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC

15. October 15: AFT Season Finale I – TBA, Daytona Beach, FL

16. October 16: AFT Season Finale II – TBA, Daytona Beach, FL

Tickets for AFT’s return to the historic Indy Mile for its first doubleheader event on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22 will be available for purchase in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to http://www.americanflattrack.com and AFT’s social media channels for ticketing news and the latest updates on AFT’s upcoming 2020 season.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.