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19-race IndyCar season unveiled for 2013

1 October 2012

Organisers of the IZOD IndyCar Series have announced a 19-race calendar for the 2013 season, up from just 15 races in 2012.

The year will see three 'doubleheader' race weekends featuring standing starts; two new venues; a $1 million 'triple crown' for the winner of the three longest events; and six oval races compared to 13 road and street course events.

"We feel that our 2013 schedule will certainly challenge the fastest, most versatile drivers in the world with a strong mix of ovals and road and street courses, cumulating in 19 races," said Randy Bernard, the CEO of IndyCar.

The 'doubleheader' events will be at Detroit in June, Toronto in July and Houston in October. The six races will all be full distance (unlike the 'split' format trialled at Texas in 2011.) The doubleheader will see one of each pair of races begin with a standing start, with qualifying procedures to be announced in due course.

Series chief executive Randy Bernard said that he was in favour of growing the number of doubleheaders on the calendar, telling USA Today on Friday that "doubleheaders will allow fans the opportunity to see more racing over the course of a race weekend.

"We believe the average distance traveled by fans will be longer for doubleheaders so we'll draw more fans," he added. "The more time you get to see people competing in a race is better, and adding a standing start to one of the races adds to the intrigue."

The new races announced on the calendar are the unique 'tricky triangle' Pocono Raceway tri-oval in July - which returns to the series for the first time since 1989 - and the Houston street course event at Reliant Park in October, last used by Champ Car in 2007

"Pocono is deep in open-wheel, oval racing tradition and has produced some of the most memorable races in Indy car history," explained Bernard. "The addition of Pocono allows us to bring back a version of the triple crown, restoring a popular legacy of our sport to reward the champion of our three longest races of the season."

The triple crown will pay out a $1 million bonus to a driver who sweeps all three of the season's long distance races - the 400-mile Pocono event and the 500-mile Indianapolis and Fontana marathons - or $250,000 to any driver who can win two out of the three.

The season has a familiar look to the first five outings, which have the traditional beginning at St Petersburg in Florida on March 24 followed by three more street courses at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, Long Beach in California and Sao Paulo in Brazil. That leads into the month of May, which is dedicated as usual to the build-up to the Indianapolis 500 which this year will take place on May 26.

Detroit Belle Isle keeps its post-Indy spot and this time consists of the first doubleheader of the year. It will be followed by four consecutive oval events: a night race at Texas, then the races at Milwaukee, Iowa and Pocono.

The street course at Toronto is bumped up to a doubleheader event on July 13/14 to compensate for the loss of the other traditional Canadian outing for the series at Edmonton, after the local promoters decided not to stage the event there in 2013. The only other loss from the 2012 calendar is the ill-fated Indy Qingdao 600 in China that was was cancelled just weeks before it was due to be held after a change of heart by the local authorities in the port city.

August sees the series head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car course and then to Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point, California a week before the street race in Baltimore. There is then a month-long break in proceedings before the final three races of the year, the new street race doubleheader at Houston and the season finale under the floodlights at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

That long gap means there is room to insert another event if one materialises over the winter. There had been rumours that either an extra oval race at Kentucky or a new street race in Providence, Rhode Island may still be being negotiated, although the likely slot for the latter race would appear to be in August between the Ohio and Sonoma rounds if it did happen.

Bernard said that it was his intention to grow the number of ovals for the following season in 2014: "We want to continue to present IndyCar as the most versatile racing in the world, so we would like to add more ovals in the future," he said.

Currently the difficulty for IndyCar in adding more ovals is that spectator attendance at speedways is poor compared to street circuits, with the latter also appealing to the more sought-after younger demographic. Even though the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway was a huge success in terms of racing action as Ryan Hunter-Reay clinched the 2012 title, the number of actual spectators at the circuit was not as high as hoped for. That was partly because of the searing Californian temperatures in mid-September, something that the series hopes to address by pushing the event back a month into cooler conditions in mid-October.

"We are proud of the on-track product we provided in 2012," said Bernard. "From the drivers to the new car, we demonstrated that the IZOD IndyCar Series is showcasing the best racing in the world.

"We want to create more exposure and content for our sport, and we feel this strong and diverse schedule along with the addition of doubleheader races will provide an opportunity to further showcase the skills and personalities of the IZOD IndyCar Series next season," he continued.

"We look forward to watching Ryan Hunter-Reay defend his title, the second year of engine manufacturer competition and the best-of-the-best tackle this challenging schedule in 2013."

2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Schedule

March 24 - Streets of St. Petersburg: Florida (1.8-mile street)

April 7 - Barber Motorsports Park: Birmingham, Alabama (2.38-mile road)
April 21 - Streets of Long Beach: California (1.968-mile street)

May 5 - Streets of Sao Paulo: Brazil (2.6-mile street)
May 26 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Indianapolis (2.5-mile oval)

June 1 - Belle Isle Park: Detroit, Michigan (2.07-mile street)
June 2 - Belle Isle Park: Detroit, Michigan (2.07-mile street)
June 8 - Texas Motor Speedway: Fort Worth, Texas (1.5-mile oval)
June 15 - Milwaukee Mile: West Allis, Wisconsin (1-mile oval)
June 23 - Iowa Speedway: Newton, Iowa (0.875-mile oval)

July 7 - Pocono Raceway: Long Pond, Pennsylvania (2.5-mile oval)
July 13 - Streets of Toronto: Ontario, Canada (1.75-mile street)
July 14 - Streets of Toronto: Ontario, Canada (1.75-mile street)

August 4 - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course: Lexington, Ohio (2.258-mile road)
August 25 - Sonoma Raceway: Sears Point, California (2.303-mile road)

September 1 - Streets of Baltimore: Maryland (2.04-mile street)

October 5 - Reliant Park: Houston, Texas (1.7-mile street)
October 6 - Reliant Park: Houston, Texas (1.7-mile street)
October 12 - Auto Club Speedway: Fontana, California (2-mile oval)


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