COTA and Laguna on 2019 IndyCar schedule, Phoenix gone

The 2019 IndyCar schedule has been released.

It will be a 17-race season that starts, as usual, in St. Petersburg on 10 March and will finish at Laguna Seca on 22 September.

Phoenix wasn’t working. The racing was poor because the cars were just playing follow the leader and the attendance was so poor it was almost like nobody told the folks in Arizona that a motor racing event was taking place. IndyCar confirmed a couple of months ago that the experiment would end.

Replacing it is a state-of-the-art road course, the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. COTA has been unable to get on the schedule previously because Texas Motor Speedway didn’t want another race in that state. However, as Robin Miller reported, Texas has had its sanction fee lowered and has backed down with its terratorial attitude. COTA is a good addition as it’s a nice track. Maybe a bit too much run-off but then again it was designed for F1, which turns its nose up at any track that isn’t FIA Grade 1. But that does make it a top facility and of course it will be fun to see how much of a show IndyCar can put on in comparison to its open-wheel counterpart.

Barber has been moved to the beginning of April for some reason I can’t understand, leaving a yawning chasm of a month between Long Beach and the Indy GP. So what IndyCar has done is closed up the month-long gap at the start of the year and opened up another gap later on. Because, reasons.

The other issue is that you have the Indy GP on 11 May. Two days later Indy 500 practice begins and that lasts for five days. Then on 18 and 19 May you have qualifying for the 500. Then you have media days and driver parades during the next week before Carb Day on 24 May and the race two days later. Then the teams have to drag the equipment to Detroit (which by the way, Roger Penske, has no business after Indianapolis) for a double-header and then just six days after the motor city they’re racing at Texas on 8 June! What the hell?! Nobody likes this insane four weeks because it’s not fair on the teams, drivers and especially the mechanics. Get rid of the Indy GP as it interests no one, move Texas to the week following Indy and move Detroit to the middle of June. Come on people!

There are similar three-week runs in July and August with Toronto, Iowa and Mid-Ohio followed by Pocono, Gateway and Portland. This is madness! It’s great news that Iowa is finally a Saturday night race again, but move Mid-Ohio to when the IMSA guys run their race in early May to replace the Indy GP and plug that month gap. Make Toronto a double-header and move Gateway to be the season finale at the end of September after Laguna. Don’t get me wrong, I love Laguna as a racetrack and I’m relieved that the pathetic excuse for a racetrack that is Sonoma is gone, but it shouldn’t be the finale. At least not this year. See how the crowd is and then put it as the finale if the show is better than Gateway, because when we were last here the racing and crowd were pitiful. Lets give it a proper chance and pair it with the IMSA race that’s happening just a week earlier. In fact the more we collaborate with IMSA, the better for both series, which is why we need Watkins Glen to be pencilled in for the end of June, when the sportscars have their six-hour race.

It’s annoying because these problems I’m highlighting are ones that have been plaguing the series for several years now. More to the point, I’m not alone in my views.

But apart from all that, this is the best schedule IndyCar has had for years.

2018 IndyCar schedule

10 March – St. Petersburg

24 March – Austin

7 April – Barber

14 April – Long Beach

11 May – Indy GP

26 May – Indianapolis

1 & 2 June – Detroit

8 June – Texas

23 June – Road America

14 July – Toronto

20 July – Iowa

28 July – Mid Ohio

18 August – Pocono

24 August – Gateway

1 September – Portland

22 September – Laguna Seca

Feature Image Credit: Don J Schulte
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