INDIANAPOLIS — Consistency and stability, plus the return of a favored track in the Pacific Northwest, highlighted Thursday’s announcement of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.
Sixteen of the 17 races from this year’s exciting and momentum-building season return next year, with most falling in the same spot on the calendar to further capitalize on their date equity.
The newcomer to next season’s schedule is Portland Int’l Raceway, which hosted Indy car races under CART and Champ Car sanction from 1984-2007, including what is still the closest race finish in Indy car history on a road or street course.
The Portland event is set for Labor Day weekend in 2018, replacing the Watkins Glen Int’l race from this season, which will not return due to the inability to find a suitable date for all parties.
The 2018 season will feature the highly anticipated introduction of universal aero kits to be used by all teams. The new kits offer a car look more sleek, bold and reminiscent of favorite Indy cars of the past.
The aerodynamics involved are expected to make the already intense competition even stronger by allowing cars to run closer together and provide more passing opportunities.
“The strength and consistency of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ 2018 schedule is something all of us should be proud of,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series. “We’re also looking forward to continuing the upward trend of the series through the introduction of the universal aero kits, which testing has shown to be an exciting product.”
Indicative of its status as the most diverse and demanding racing series, the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule features a virtual even mix of road courses, street courses and ovals. Five temporary street-course races will be held, starting with the season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11.
Six races will be conducted on permanent road courses, including iconic tracks such as Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Sept. 16 season finale at Sonoma Raceway.
Befitting the hundred-year history and tradition of Indy car racing, six oval tracks are on the schedule. Three are short ovals, including the last race using the original start-finish line at Phoenix Raceway on April 7.
Three will be held on superspeedways, including the centerpiece of the schedule, the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27.
For the eighth consecutive year, the 2018 season kicks off in St. Petersburg, Florida, on the 1.8-mile temporary circuit set up on city streets and a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. The Gulf Coast city has hosted Indy cars continuously since 2005 and provides the perfect warm-weather backdrop to usher in the new season.
Phoenix Raceway, which will be rebranded ISM Raceway in 2018, is the second stop on the schedule, returning to the first weekend in April after vacating that date this year to not conflict with the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four taking place in nearby Glendale, Arizona.
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