Examining the 2016 IndyCar schedule

The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule was announced on Tuesday and it has been received in both good and bad ways.  But how so?

Let’s take a look at both.  First, the good.

The schedule has been stretched out by quite a while.  Instead of starting in late March and ending in late August, the series begins in mid-March while ending in mid-September.  This will alleviate many stresses of the series for traveling, especially regarding team members not being at home and also the rest of the IndyCar traveling circus.

The series returns to two popular venues for the first time in a long while.  Phoenix returns, allowing for a west coast swing of Phoenix and Long Beach before heading back to Barber Motorsports Park. Later in the season, Road America makes its well-anticipated return to the IndyCar schedule, and as one of America’s premier road racing venues, its return is most certainly welcome by all in the IndyCar paddock.

The series has retained several cornerstone venues.

To go along with the historic 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016, Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway are repeats on the calendar, as well as Pocono, but the series managed to bring back the long awaited and much anticipated Phoenix International Raceway.

The variety of ovals gives fans and drivers alike something unique each race weekend.

St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Detroit and Toronto return for street circuits as Boston joins the series for 2016, however local politics might have a thing or two to say before the race actually takes place.

As for the road courses, Barber Motorsports Park has become a popular stop for the series and will return again.  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Sonoma Raceway continue their involvement in open wheel racing by renewing their races for 2016 alongside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

However, there are a few bad things about the schedule.

There’s only one race in the entire month of August.  I can understand giving everybody some well deserved time off, but staying off track has not been a good thing for IndyCar racing.

The race in Iowa is still a night race, but because NASCAR will be racing on Saturday night in Kentucky, the race was moved to Sunday night, which might backfire for out of town travelers to the race.

The series lost two of its more interesting ovals.  Milwaukee and Fontana are not on the 2016 schedule.  Fontana would be fantastic in its old role as a season ending race, and given that Sonoma is September 18th, it would be a fantastic way to end the season with another west coast swing.

NOLA Motorsports Park will also not be returning to the 2016 calendar. Given what took place in its series debut last season with the ‘monsoon massacre’ and other information, it is not much of surprise at all.  I hope the race is back for 2017, primarily because it builds a good pipeline for IndyCar between Texas Motor Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park.

That being said, with maybe three more races and extending the calendar into early October, the schedule would be nearly perfect and perhaps this is a step towards that happening in the future.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.

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