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Series opts out of Vegas return in 2012

The IndyCar Series will not return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2012, despite the venue holding a three-race contract and having originally been scheduled to host the season finale next year.
The organisers of the IndyCar Series announced on Thursday that the scheduled 2012 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been withdrawn from the provisional season calendar.

According to track owner Bruton Smith of Speedway Motorsports Inc., quoted by the Associated Press, the series negotiated a buy-out with the circuit in order to remove Vegas from the 2012 season line-up. He added that the decision had been IndyCar's, and that the track owners had been prepared for and in favour of the series returning in 2012.

One official reason given for the decision to withdraw from Vegas was the introduction of the new DW12 IndyCar chassis next season, which is reportedly going through some development issues affecting performance on ovals.

"We feel we need to give our technical team ample time to conduct thorough testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, once we complete our ongoing investigation into the 15-car accident during the October 16 race at the track," said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard in an official statement.

That multi-car accident included fatal injuries for Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, and a return to the venue in 2012 would have given rise to difficult emotions for all concerned within the sport.

The decision to run an IndyCar race on a high-banked 1.5-mile oval circuit which allows very high speeds to be reached by open wheel cars racing side-by-side in packs was one of the main factors being considered as contributing to the massive accident, and for the severity of some of the wrecks suffered by individual cars, including the #77 driven by Wheldon.

A number of analysts questioned the wisdom of attempting to run an IndyCar race on such a circuit in the first place. Other factors coming under scrutiny include the number of cars (at 34, exceeding even the allowed field for the Indianapolis 500 on a 2.5-mile track) and the wide variation in experience of and expertise in oval racing among the drivers.

With the investigation into the causes of the crash still ongoing and not expected to report until the New Year, the IndyCar organisers have decided to remove the possibility of a return to Vegas next year altogether ahead of announcing their finalised 2012 schedule in the coming weeks.

IndyCar is not saying at this stage what will happen in 2013, the final year of the three-race contract that the series struck with LVMS. "We're not guaranteeing we'll be back," said Bernard. "But we'll test there, and we'll see what we can learn."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dan Wheldon, who crossed the line first at the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race on Sunday May 29. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
Indy 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand passes Paul Tracy during practice and qualifying for the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway - June 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Either Dario Franchitti or Will Power will win the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy (formerly known as the Astor Challenge Cup) in 2011. [Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay pose with an IndyCar in front of the famous welcome sign at the city limits of Las Vegas. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Tony Kanaan taking part in the procession of IndyCars down the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday night. [Photo credit: IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe on track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday during practice. [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
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