Although the Indy Racing League is not expected to reveal its 2009 IndyCar Series schedule for another couple of weeks, rumours are already abounding that the concrete oval at Nashville will be missing, likely replaced by the former Champ Car street course in Toronto.
A report in the Edmonton Sun
over the weekend confirmed speculation that the Toronto Indy will return to the schedules next year, having been forced to take a year out following the amalgamation of IndyCar and Champ Car before the season started. That decision was willingly accepted by the then organisers, and a subsequent deal which saw the promotion of the race handed to the Andretti Green organisation only strengthened suggestions that the city of Toronto would be back in 2009.
IndyCar Series spokesman John Griffin would only confirm that next year's schedule release was imminent , telling The Associated Press
that 'we planned to announce it some time in late July or early August and we're right on schedule."
Despite the fervent speculation, and more than a few wishlists being drawn up, the original report suggests that Toronto will be the only significant addition to the IndyCar calendar next year, leaving the likes of Road America, Laguna Seca and others in the wilderness and keeping the schedule at 18 races.
There have been calls to stretch the season out again, especially following the continuous six-week race run that was completed in Edmonton on Saturday. At present, the calendar ends at Chicagoland in September - earlier than most major series - although Surfers Paradise in Australia is likely to run as a non-championship event on its regular October date.
The Gold Coast is expected to be a full point-scoring stop on the 2009 schedule, however, although it may have to change dates to accommodate, while Toronto is likely to replace the Nashville oval, which confirmed earlier this week that it had failed to reach an agreement to remain on the calendar, citing a hike in sanctioning fees that it believed were a cover for dropping the event.
Should Toronto plug in as a direct replacement for the Music City, it is likely to form a Canadian double-header with Edmonton, which received all-round praise for its first IndyCar Series event.
"It has been unbelievable and absolutely couldn't have gone any better," series CEO Tony George commented, "To see the packed grandstands today and the great crowds we've seen all week has just been wonderful.
"In the face of some challenges and the circumstances, the organisers have done an outstanding job. Getting a late announced date and moving it a week for us to assist our schedule with everything else it takes to it takes to put on an event in the face of all the events in town. It has been a real pleasure for us to work with them. We will be back and are really looking forward to it."
Initial reports suggest that the 2009 IndyCar schedule will feature ten ovals and eight road or street courses, with Long Beach becoming a fully-fledged IRL round after hosting Champ Car's swansong in 2008.