IndyCar CEO Bernard Working To Finalize '13 Schedule; Sets Oct. 1 As "Hard Deadline"
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is “still trying to put together important elements" for the '13 season, according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. His "most important concern" is finalizing the '13 Izod IndyCar Series schedule, which he "had hoped to have done by now.” Instead, Bernard is now "calling Oct. 1 a ’hard deadline’ in part because of the lessons he learned from this year’s canceled event in China." While IndyCar has "already announced one new venue" for '13, a street race in Houston, Bernard was “mum on the addition of Pocono Raceway or a street race in Providence, R.I." Bernard said Providence is “an interesting market.” He will meet next week with the IndyCar BOD “to discuss his idea of double-headers at some venues, which Bernard is hopeful to do for at least two race weekends next season.” However, team Owner Roger Penske on Saturday said that he is “not as concerned about how many races are on the IndyCar schedule as he is about the quality of the events.” Penske added that it is “important to announce a schedule with enough time to give tracks a chance to promote the events.” Meanwhile, Bernard is “not sure what’s going to happen with Lotus, the weakest of the three manufacturers this season.” After three teams “defected before" the Indianapolis 500, Lotus “ran the rest of the season with just one car.” Now HVM Racing is “shopping for a new manufacturer, and Lotus appears headed for the exits with no teams signed for next season” (AP, 9/15).
MAKING HEARTS RACE: In L.A., Jim Peltz writes IndyCar “still can put on a compelling show.” Saturday's MavTV 500 IndyCar World Championship at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., was a “tense, thrilling race.” The race saw driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, who needed to finish fifth to become champion, “hang on to finish fourth and capture his first title by only three points over” Will Power. The race drew a "crowd of 25,000 to 30,000, about the number who attended the last IndyCar race there” in ’05. A huge crowd “wasn't expected this year because of IndyCar's lengthy absence from the Fontana track and the sport's overall struggle to gain a wider following.” Bernard before the race said he was "proud of the effort" Auto Club Speedway made to market the race. He added regarding the series returning to Fontana, "We stand pretty optimistic" (L.A. TIMES, 9/17).
'DINGER NOT DONE? Penske on Saturday said that former NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger is “an option for the team's three-car IndyCar operation as soon as he is reinstated” following a positive drug test in July. In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin noted Penske “has a seat to fill after Ryan Hunter-Reay opted to sign a two-year extension" with Andretti Autosport on Friday. Driver Ryan Briscoe is “pursuing other IndyCar options, although he remains a possibility" for Penske's team. Penske said, "He's certainly an option for people on the NASCAR side and on the Indy side. ... He could be an option for us, for sure” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/16).