IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has confirmed the 2013 schedule for the IZOD IndyCar Series, containing 19 races, featuring doubleheaders at three events and the return of the famous Triple Crown, with a $1 million bounty for anyone who sweeps all three long-distance races.
Speaking on SPEED's "Wind Tunnel" program, Bernard also confirmed that standing starts will be part of the show, as Competition Director Beaux Barfield considers holding standing starts on the Saturday and rolling starts on the Sundays on the double-header weekends – Detroit, Toronto and Houston. Both races will count for full points, but qualifying procedure for the second race is still to be determined.
As expected, Pocono Raceway's return was confirmed, the first time Indy cars have raced on the tri-oval since 1989. Although this event will be a 400-mile race in order to fit into the TV window, it will form part of the Triple Crown along with the 500-mile races at Indianapolis and Fontana. These races will feature a Triple Crown award which will pay a $1 million bonus to a driver that wins on all three ovals. A driver that wins two of the three races will be awarded a $250,000 bonus.
The 19-race schedule is thus broken down as 10 street races, six on ovals and three on natural road courses, although Bernard has admitted that adding a 20th race, either on the streets of Providence, R.I., or on a newly built road course in New Orleans, remains a possibility. As in 2012, the Indy 500 will again mark the start of a run of five events held on back-to-back weekends but this time incorporating six races including the double-header at Detroit.
"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.
"It is important to provide opportunities to generate additional exposure for our sport by expanding our racing schedule, and 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.
“Our new events provide the right mix of strategically located markets and historic tradition to our schedule," Bernard added. "Houston gives us exposure in another top-10 U.S. market. Pocono is deep in open-wheel, oval racing tradition and has produced some of the most memorable races in Indy car history. 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.”
One of the most notable aspects of the schedule is the run of six out of seven midseason races broadcast on ABC, including the night race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. Iowa's race, also on ABC, will move from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Also worth noting is that the finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana has been moved back a month from its date this year, to avoid the severe Southern California heat experienced this year.
"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," concluded Bernard. "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."
As it stands, the 19-race calendar is as follows:
Sunday, March 24 – St. Petersburg, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Sunday, April 7 – Birmingham, Ala., road course, (NBCSN)
Sunday, April 21 – Long Beach, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Sunday, May 5 – Sao Paulo, Brazil, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Sat/Sun, May 18-19 – Indianapolis qualifying (NBCSN)
Sunday, May 26 – Indianapolis 500, oval, (ABC)
Saturday, June 1 – Detroit, street circuit, (ABC)
Sunday, June 2 – Detroit, street circuit, (ABC)
Saturday, June 8 – Fort Worth, Texas, oval, (ABC)
Saturday, June 15 – Milwaukee, oval, (NBCSN)
Sunday, June 23 – Newton, Iowa, oval, (ABC)
Sunday, July 7 – Pocono, Pa., oval, (ABC)
Saturday, July 13 – Toronto, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Sunday, July 14 – Toronto, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Sunday, Aug. 4 – Lexington, Ohio, road course, (NBCSN)
Sunday, Aug. 25 – Sonoma, Calif., road course, (NBCSN)
Sunday, Sept. 1 – Baltimore, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Saturday, Oct. 5 – Houston, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Sunday, Oct. 6 – Houston, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Saturday, Oct. 19 – Fontana, Calif., oval, (NBCSN)