Auto Racing

Toronto, Edmonton on 2009 IndyCar schedule

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TSN.ca Staff
7/30/2008 8:36:35 AM
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Toronto and Edmonton will be the only two Canadian stops on the 2009 IndyCar schedule.
 
There will be 18 races with eight road and street courses while the remaining 10 events will be on ovals. Toronto is one of only three former Champ Car venues on the schedule with Edmonton and Long Beach.

Toronto was left off the 2008 schedule following the unification of open-wheel racing. The race assets were recently purchased by Andretti-Green Racing with the intention of reviving the event on the Toronto lakeshore in 2009.

The Toronto race will be held July 12, one week after the race at Watkins Glen and two weeks before the Edmonton event, which will return to a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule.

St. Petersburg replaces Homestead-Miami as the season opening race. The Florida event was the first non-oval race ever staged by the IRL back in 2005 as part of its plan to branch out from simply being an all-oval series. Since then, the race has become one of the premiere events on the series calendar.

"We made the first right turn. Why can't we stay the first race?" Grand Prix general manager Tim Ramsberger tells the St. Petersburg Times about the long term vision for the event.

"We've got to do something special. (Promoter International Speedway Corp.) makes Daytona a huge blowout (to begin the NASCAR season), right? We should do that."

Homestead-Miami, which has been the traditional season opener, becomes the season ending event on October 11. Terry Angstadt, the president of the IRL's commercial division, said they wanted a warm-weather for its finale, noting that NASCAR also stages its three season ending events at Homestead.

"That gives Homestead an opportunity to market themselves as a venue of champions," Angstadt tells USA Today.

Following St. Petersburg will be Long Beach, which was the traditional Champ Car season opener. Then its on to Kansas as the season begins with three races on three consecutive weekends before beginning the month long preparation for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 in May.

From there, the next five events are all returnees from the 2008 schedule - Milwaukee, Texas, Iowa, Richmond and Watkins Glen.

As already confirmed, Nashville will give way to Toronto followed by Edmonton and then its on to Kentucky before making a stop at Mid-Ohio, which falls down the schedule from mid-July to early August.

Infineon, Chicagoland Speedway and Belle Isle Park in Detroit make up another three race in three weekend stretch to close out August before the series moves overseas for its lone international stop at Twin Ring Motegi. The Japanese race gives up its April slot on the calendar to make way for Long Beach. A conflict between both those events this year led to two races on the same reace weekend after no suitable compromise could be found.

The series then heads back to North America for its season ending race in Miami.
 
Noticeably absent is the Surfers Paradise race in Australia, which will be a non-points exhibition event at the end of this year. Angstadt said there's a possibility Australia could still be added to the schedule as there is time between the Japan race and the Miami season ender.

"We're optimistic," he said. "We've given them a couple of time slots."

Angstadt added that Cleveland, Houston, New Hampshire and Las Vegas were also discussed and he's holding out hope that at least one or two of those venues will be added to future schedules. New Hampshire is hampered somewhat by a crowded NASCAR schedule, which leaves the IRL very few options when it comes to dates while the timing doesn't appear right for a return to the 142,000 seat Las Vegas oval.

"For us to put 50-60,000 fans in a place like that, it's almost not good for either side," Angstadt said.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Gappens said he was disappointed not be included on the 2009 schedule.

"I don't understand the decision not to include our facility on next year's schedule," he said in a statement released Tuesday night. "I think it's a slap in the face to our chairman Bruton Smith and to our company (Speedway Motorsports Inc.) who have been very supportive of the Indy Racing League since its inception."

"I don't want to burn any bridges, but I am upset to be excluded."

Angstadt says the series hopes to have a 20 race schedule by 2011.

Toronto Indy (Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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