The Verizon IndyCar Series has unveiled its schedule for 2016, confirming that there will once again be 16 races in next year's championship - including the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The season will start two weeks earlier than it did in 2015, with the streets of St Petersburg once again playing host to the curtain-raiser on Mach 13.

After that, the series heads west for its first outing at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval in Arizona on April 2, followed two weeks later by the long-standing street course event in Long Beach, California on April 17.

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A week later, the drivers will arrive in Alabama for a road course event at Barber Motorsports Park on April 24.

The month of May is now entirely given over to events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, starting with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 2.4346-mile infield road course on May 14 and culminating with the centenary Indy 500 on May 29.

A packed June will see a double-header at Belle Isle Park in Detroit on the weekend of June 4/5, then an oval event at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11 and finally the first visit to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin since 2007, which will take place on June 26.

July will see three races at long-standing venues for the IndyCar Series, starting with Iowa (July 10), Toronto (July 17) and finally Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 31).

August will have only one event in 2016, with the drivers returning to Pocono Raceway on the 21st.

That means the final two races of the season will both take place in September, with a new street course event at Boston, Mass. on the 4th, and the season finale once again scheduled for Sonoma Raceway in California on September 18, three weeks later than 2015.

Dropped from next year's line-up are events at NOLA Motorsports Park, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, and the Milwaukee Mile.

"Overall, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is another key step forward in IndyCar's strategic vision," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent company of both the IndyCar Series and of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"We're confident that the momentum that IndyCar has experienced in fan engagement over the past two seasons will continue as a result of the tireless efforts of our event promoters and our improved scheduling on [television partners] ABC and NBCSN.

"The 2016 season is defined by the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500," Miles continued. "The historic significance of our season is marked by this legendary event and the return of several storied venues such as Road America and Phoenix.

"Half the venues on our schedule have hosted 25 or more IndyCar races and further our rich heritage as the premier form of open wheel racing in the United States," he pointed out.

"Road America and Phoenix are great venues and two of the best choices that we could have to add to the schedule," contributed Scott Dixon, the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion who has raced on both tracks in his 15-year career.

"I'm looking forward to both race events. Road America is an old-school American track that I always look forward to. Phoenix was a fun track for me in the past. I tested there and the changes that they've made has maybe opened up quite a few different grooves. The racing will be very exciting; we'll put on a great show."

2016 IndyCar Series Schedule

March 13: Streets of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla. - 1.8-mile street course

April 2: Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Arizona - 1-mile oval
April 17: Streets of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif. - 1.968-mile street course
April 24: Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala. - 2.38-mile road course

May 14: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis - 2.4346-mile road course
May 21-22: Indianapolis 500 qualifying, Indianapolis - 2.5-mile oval
May 29: Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis - 2.5-mile oval

June 4: Belle Isle Park, Detroit - 2.35-mile street course
June 5: Belle Isle Park, Detroit - 2.35-mile street course
June 11: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas - 1.5-mile oval
June 26: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis. - 4.048-mile road course

July 10: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa - 0.875-mile oval
July 17: Streets of Toronto, Toronto - 1.75-mile street course
July 31: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio - 2.258-mile road course

August 21: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa. - 2.5-mile oval

September 4: Streets of Boston, Boston, Mass. - 2.25-mile street course
September 18: Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. - 2.385-mile road course