The new schedule is here! The new schedule is here! 2018 season isn’t over – but the 2019 schedule is here!
The biggest things? The addition of both Circuit of the Americas “COTA” (March 24) and Laguna Seca (September 22). We’ve known about Laguna Seca for some time now, and that it’ll be the home of the season finale. I will tell you my biggest concern is that there’s a three-week gap leading into the season finale. The series goes back-to-back-to-back from Pocono through Portland, and then a three week break before the series finale. That is going to kill momentum, especially with it being a West coast race. COTA, well COTA had been hinted about for weeks, but now we have an official date of March 24. Early spring in Texas, that should be fine weather-wise right? I’m just guessing I’ve not stepped foot in Texas (yet). There are approximately eight weeks between COTA and Texas Motor Speedway. Eddie Gossage allowed the geographical constraint to lapse in the contract with the series and I would wager the time between the two races also helped soothe tempestuous Gossage. COTA’s slot in the schedule helps break up the wait in March between the St. Petersburg race and the rest of the schedule. COTA also seems very excited to have an INDYCAR race at the facility. Per an interview with Autoweek the race is looking to put up a special purse for a driver that both wins the pole and the race: that will draw a lot of excitement.
Aside from new races, there are some movement between the established races. Barber has moved into the Phoenix slot, jumping two weeks earlier than it has been. There was the already discussed Iowa change, moving it two weeks later and on a Saturday evening. It creates a three-week back-to-back situation with Toronto, Iowa, and Mid-Ohio. The new schedule has a few three-week stretches including Indianapolis 500 – Dual in Detroit – Texas Motor Speedway, the July swing of Toronto-Iowa-MidOhio, and the Pocono-Gateway-Portland swing. I enjoy the three-week swings because it helps create momentum and yet the break allows the drivers to recuperate from what must be a hectic three weeks.
I wrote about the schedule a few months ago. One of the biggest things I strove for was geographical grouping of races. This new schedule does not yet have geographic grouping that would, I assume, be helpful to all the teams. The new schedule has the teams going from Alabama to California; a Detroit to Texas; and a St. Louis to Oregon. I know INDYCAR does not have the freedom I have, multiple tracks are under multiple year contracts which expire on different years.
I do wish there were more ovals on the schedule. Currently five out of the seventeen races are on ovals, but 2020 is promising. We haven’t officially decided which races we’re going to, but for now I would bet on us attending: St. Petersburg, Austin, Indianapolis (obviously), Texas, Road America, Toronto, Iowa, Mid-Ohio, Pocono, Gateway, and Portland; with Birmingham and Laguna Seca being potential races we attend as well. Now I just need Mark Miles to write a note for my work.
What races are you most excited about seeing on the schedule? Let me know in the comments, and as you make your plans for the 2019 season let us know if you’ll be at the race – we’d love to say hi!