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Volume 21 No. 42
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Dual IndyCar, NASCAR race weekend?

IndyCar and International Speedway Corp. executives discussed holding a dual NASCAR/IndyCar race weekend in 2019, according to sources, an idea that was tabled for now but hasn’t been ruled out for the future.

NASCAR and IndyCar have traditionally been seen more as rivals since they are the two most prominent motorsports series in the U.S. The idea of a joint race weekend might have been seen as unthinkable, but with NASCAR and IndyCar both trying to improve key business metrics, the idea was broached between IndyCar and track operator International Speedway Corp. as a way to create synergy.

The two sides were discussing plans for 2019 in part because ISM Raceway near Phoenix was dropped from next year’s IndyCar schedule, opening the possibility of adding a different ISC track in its place. The two sides discussed a possible stand-alone IndyCar race at Richmond Raceway or a dual race event at Chicagoland Speedway, but ultimately did not reach an agreement for 2019. IndyCar would run in the days or day before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The sides declined any on-record comment.

It’s unclear how involved NBC Sports was in the scheduling discussions. The network becomes IndyCar’s full-time media rights partner in 2019 and also holds rights to half of the NASCAR season.

IndyCar remains open to the idea of a joint race weekend as soon as 2020, under the proper circumstances, according to a person with direct knowledge of the series’ schedule planning, while ISC’s openness was unclear. ISC is publicly traded but tightly controlled by the France family. The family also owns NASCAR, so ISC has clear influence on decisions about NASCAR’s schedule, though the two companies are separate entities.

Meanwhile, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said last week that “everything is in play” with the schedule beginning in 2020 and beyond.