The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule has been released.
While most of the venues and dates have been known for awhile, there are a few significant changes heading into next season. The biggest piece of the schedule is a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Portland International Raceway will host the series on Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately it is replacing Watkins Glen, which is not on the 2018 schedule. Still, Portland is an interesting and scenic venue, and will reach a market that is thought to be clamoring for IndyCar racing.
The September 2 race on the 1.967-mile permanent road course will be operated by Green Savoree Racing Promotions, which also promotes the IndyCar events at St. Petersburg, Toronto and Mid-Ohio.
There have been 24 open-wheel races at Portland, from 1984 to 2007, with Sebastien Bourdais being the defending race winner. Al Unser Jr won the first Portland race, and is tied with Michael Andretti for the most wins (3) at the track.
For the eighth consecutive year, the season will get underway on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will run on March 11. The 17th and final race of the season at Sonoma Raceway is set for September 16, where the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series champion will be crowned.
The 2018 schedule features a virtual even mix of (6) ovals, (6) road courses, and (5) street courses.
The IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 12 will kick of the Month of May activities. The 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 is slated to run on May 27.
Phoenix is returning to the first weekend of April. “We’re thrilled that the Phoenix Grand Prix will return to April 6 and 7 under the lights,” said Bryan Sperber, Phoenix Raceway president. “Our race fans will be treated to the stars of the IndyCar Series racing at record speed at Phoenix at a time of year that delivers chamber of commerce weather.”
Mark Miles said the possibility of adding an 18th event (Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City) still exists. The permanent road course hosted open wheel races in 1980-1981, and from 2002-2007. If added, Miles said the event would like be in early August, where there are two off weekends. “We have all the empathy in the world for Mexico City and the country, which was hit hard by an earthquake. We’ll see if they can keep all the development on schedule. It’s a little slower than we thought it might be, but we think as long as there’s enough time for them to successfully promote an event in ‘18, we can add it even in the next several weeks.”
The official start to on track activities for next season begin with the two-day Open Test at Phoenix on February 9, 10. All races in 2018 will be broadcast by ABC and NBC Sports Network, with a television schedule announced at a later date.