IndyCar moves season opener to Barber Motorsports Park as St. Pete shifts to April 25

IndyCar season opener
IndyCar
0 Comments

The NTT IndyCar Series announced Wednesday morning that its 2021 season opener will be held at Barber Motorsports Park with the rescheduling of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The street race in St. Pete that traditionally opens the season will take place April 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a release. IndyCar held its 2020 season finale in St. Pete on Oct. 25 after postponing the race two days before it had been scheduled to open the season.

The 2021 season had been scheduled to begin March 7 in St. Petersburg. This will mark the second consecutive year but only the third time since 2009 that the season has started outside of St. Pete (the 2010 season opener was in Brazil).

“It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC network television.”

St. Pete becomes the second race of 2021 to be moved because of the pandemic. Last month, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was moved from April 18 to Sept. 26 as the new season finale.

The Barber Motorsports Park race currently is slated for April 11 on the original 2021 schedule that was released last October.

Here’s the release from IndyCar:

INDYCAR officials have announced the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being rescheduled for Sunday, April 25 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The move creates a condensed, action-packed early-season schedule for 2021.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to the Streets of St. Petersburg after Josef Newgarden’s thrilling win last October, which culminated with Scott Dixon’s sixth series title. NBC will remain as the television home of this year’s race on the tight, demanding street layout.

“It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC network television.”

Due to the move, Barber Motorsports Park becomes the host of the season opener as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will raise the curtain on the 2021 season. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will mark the 18th NTT INDYCAR SERIES event in the Sunshine City. The traditional season opener since 2011 and a fan favorite on the INDYCAR schedule, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg received a three-year title sponsorship extension from Bridgestone Americas, Inc. last October.

“We appreciate the officials at INDYCAR for their support in setting a new date for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and also to Mayor Kriseman and his team at the City of St. Petersburg for identifying a time when it will be conducive for more fans to attend,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of GSSP, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “We are grateful to keep the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the springtime window and also maintain the live national broadcast coverage of the race on NBC.”

An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.