IndyCar Returns To Laguna Seca For '19 Finale, Replacing Sonoma
The Verizon IndyCar Series will hold its '19 season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as the Monterey County Board of Supervisors have "approved a three-year agreement" to bring the series back to the track for the first time since '04, according to Sotero & Ostly of the Salinas CALIFORNIAN. Laguna Seca "hosted the season finale" of the IndyCar Series from '89-'96 and will do so again on Sept. 20-22, 2019, as it replaces Sonoma Raceway, which has "hosted IndyCar’s season finale the past decade." Track upgrades to the "kerbs, gravel traps, barriers and catch fencing are needed" at Laguna Seca before '19 (Salinas CALIFORNIAN, 7/18). IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said there is a "ton of really favorable IndyCar history and open-wheel racing" at Laguna Seca. Miles: "It’s a place that has deep roots into the automobile, and it’s a really sexy venue. Monterey is a place our paddock, our sponsors, NBC, all of our constituents see as a sensational destination" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/17).
BEST MOVE? In Indianapolis, Jim Ayello writes time "will be the judge" of whether taking the season finale to Laguna Seca is a good move, but "as of right now, it's difficult to say." Laguna Seca is a "historic track with a treasured IndyCar lineage." A finale at the track "keeps the series in scenic Northern California, a densely populated area from which it's possible to attract big crowds." It also "keeps the series racing near the homes of its corporate partners." But with Sonoma’s contract expiring, this could "have been an ideal time to finally bring the championship race back to IndyCar country: the Midwest." Ayello: "Did IndyCar miss an opportunity here? ... Should IndyCar have looked a bit harder at Gateway Motorsports Park?" The '17 race at the track just outside St. Louis was a "smash hit in its debut" as the series, track, drivers and promoters "put on a heck of a show in front of a capacity crowd." A championship celebration at Gateway "likely would have packed the proper punch." Miles confirmed that the two sides had "spoken at length about the idea of moving the series finale" to the track (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/18).