Bernard Meets With Officials From Pocono, Houston About Adding Races To '13 Schedule
Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky attended yesterday's Izod IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and met with IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard to "discuss the possibility of having a race at the eastern Pennsylvania oval track" in '13, according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR (3/26). The AP's Jenna Fryer noted Bernard Saturday also met with officials from Houston "about running on a temporary street course there next season," but he said that a contract was not signed. Bernard: "We are very much engaged in the 2013 schedule right now, and some of our top objectives and priorities right now [are] continuing to showcase our sport in major markets." Penske Racing team Owner Roger Penske Saturday said that he "supports a stop in Houston and wants the series to focus on North American markets." IndyCar has 14 races scheduled this year "across the U.S. and Canada, and will make stops in Brazil and China." Bernard said that adding Houston to the schedule would "not preclude IndyCar from returning to Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth." TMS is "scheduled to host IndyCar" on June 9 for a 16th consecutive season (AP, 3/24).
EVERYONE'S DAY IN ST. PETE: In Tampa, Jim Tomlin writes IndyCar "finally got a chance to move on" yesterday after the '11 season "ended in the worst way imaginable." Driver Helio Castroneves won his third Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and he said, "This was just what we needed." Not only did yesterday's race kick off the '12 Izod IndyCar season, but it was also the first IndyCar event since St. Petersburg resident and driver Dan Wheldon died in a crash Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wheldon's sister, Holly, "dropped the green flag at the start and presented the winner's trophy to Castroneves at the end" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26). ESPN.com's John Oreovicz wrote IndyCar got "exactly what it needed" yesterday, a "clean, competitive race, without any bone-headed driving, contentious officiating or technical calamity." The race "didn't offer much in the way of passing or wheel-to-wheel excitement, but it did show that the series has a solid platform to work with in terms of developing the new Dallara DW12 chassis and turbocharged V-6 engines" (ESPN.com, 3/25). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes under the header, "IndyCar Drivers, Fans Share Perfect Day At Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg With Dan Wheldon." Shelton: "It was Helio's day, and it was Dan's. It was St. Pete's day, and it was IndyCar's day. ... All of them won Sunday, the drivers and the departed racer." Wheldon's presence was "everywhere, on ribbons, on stickers." Shelton writes, "You could feel him as clearly as you could hear engines roar" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26).
HAPPY WITH THE EVENT: Penske said that he "favors keeping the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as the series' opener." He said, "Coming to Florida this time of year, it's a good place to be. The whole city has embraced what's going on. To me, that's good." Bernard "praised the city but said he doesn't want to commit to St. Petersburg as the long-term season opener." Bernard: "I love St. Pete. I think that wherever St. Pete is, it'll be successful. I don't want to box myself in and say that it should be the first event." Bernard added that 90% of his attention "has been focused on adding new North American markets next year" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/25).