INDYCAR Announces 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Schedule

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 25, 2016) - INDYCAR announced the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule today, a 17-race season that provides continuity, adds a new event at Gateway Motorsports Park and confirms a multi-year agreement with Watkins Glen International. The series calendar features the return of all venues on the 2016 schedule and consists of a total of six events on ovals, six on permanent road courses and five on temporary street circuits.

INDYCAR experienced a 38 percent growth in both television ratings and viewership from 2013 to 2015 and the same numbers are up this season by a total of 7 percent compared to this time last year. Attendance at INDYCAR events is also on the rise, with six events this season drawing crowds at or near record highs.

"The release of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule continues to build upon the success INDYCAR has experienced the last three years and establishes continuity and consistency in our event calendar," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "As a series we are working diligently to create long-term relationships with our promoters to establish date equity and to provide them with the opportunity to initiate ticket renewals and event promotions earlier, which is pivotal to continuing the increase in attendance at our events."

For the sixth consecutive season, the INDYCAR schedule will open on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. (March 12), in 2017 and conclude at Sonoma Raceway (Sept. 17) - the third straight year the Verizon IndyCar Series championship will be crowned on the scenic 12-turn, 2.385-mile road course in California.

All events on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule will be broadcast by longstanding television partners ABC and NBCSN. The final TV schedule will be released later this year.

The addition of Gateway Motorsports Park (Aug. 26) marks a return for the Verizon IndyCar Series, which last competed at the venue outside St. Louis in 2003. The track has hosted seven Indy car races, in CART from 1997-2000 and the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2001-03.

"Today is a monumental day for the people of the St. Louis region," said Curtis Francois, owner of Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. "I am proud of the progress we've made at my hometown track. I knew someday we would be making an announcement like this because I have such confidence in the people of this region and their commitment to great sporting events. More than a dozen track operators around the country sought this INDYCAR race for their communities. I firmly believe we came out on top because of the energy, loyalty and commitment to great sports that sports fans of all kinds demonstrate each day in this community."

Watkins Glen International, a replacement venue for the canceled Boston race this year, will host the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen this season on Sept. 4. The permanent road course, steeped in open-wheel racing history, will return on Labor Day weekend again in 2017 under a new multi-year agreement with INDYCAR.

"The addition of Gateway Motorsports Park and the return of Watkins Glen International are integral to the continued growth of INDYCAR," Miles said. "Gateway officials have been enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting a Verizon IndyCar Series event for some time and we're excited to bring the series to the St. Louis market. Watkins Glen is an iconic American road course that is revered by our fans, drivers and teams. Our goal from the beginning was to establish a long-term agreement and we're thrilled that we've been able to extend this relationship for the future."

In addition to coverage from ABC and NBCSN, all Verizon IndyCar Series races can be heard on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, available through network affiliates, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the INDYCAR Mobile app and IndyCar.com.

2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Schedule

March 12 -- Streets of St. Petersburg

April 9 -- Streets of Long Beach

April 23 -- Barber Motorsports Park

April 29 -- Phoenix International Raceway

May 13 -- Grand Prix of Indianapolis

May 28 -- Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

June 3 -- Raceway at Belle Isle Park

June 4 -- Raceway at Belle Isle Park

June 10 -- Texas Motor Speedway

June 25 -- Road America

July 9 -- Iowa Speedway

July 16 -- Streets of Toronto

July 30 -- Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Aug. 20 -- Pocono Raceway

Aug. 26  -- Gateway Motorsports Park

Sept. 3 -- Watkins Glen International

Sept. 17 -- Sonoma Raceway

(Schedule subject to change)

Race Report: ABC Supply 500

LONG POND, Pa. August 22, 2016—Gratitude. That was the feeling of the ABC Supply Racing team when Takuma Sato walked away from a horrific accident after spinning and hitting the SAFER barrier hard in Turn 3 on lap 2 of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Sato had started third in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda and was running in that position when his car unexpectedly swapped ends on him causing him to hit the wall exiting Turn 3.

“It was pretty hard (hit) but thanks to the safety of IndyCar and Pocono Raceway I was able to walk away,” Sato said after exiting the infield care center at the track. “I may have some bruises but I’m perfectly fine. I’m not sure (what happened). Obviously the conditions we have (for the race) are different from what we had for the last practice. We thought we needed more downforce on the ABC Supply car and we discussed the wind. The conditions were a little tricky, but I’m not sure what happened exactly. I went into Turn 3 and it just went free so quickly and I simply lost the back end.”

The team is examining the data to see what went so wrong after such a strong qualifying effort.

Jack Hawksworth, who started 12th in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda, had a couple of issues on pit stops  but he soldiered on to finish 14th which is his best finish on a superspeedway to date.

“It was a difficult race, we weren’t that competitive,” Hawksworth said afterwards. “We struggled on the straight, it seemed when I pulled out [to pass], it felt like I hit a brick wall. Not a great race for us.”

Will Power won the race while pole winner Mikhail Aleshin tied his career best finish of second after leading 87 laps. Ryan Hunter-Reay stole the show with his charge from 12th to third in the final 20 laps of the race. Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five.

The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Texas this Saturday to complete the Firestone 600 which was cut short by torrential downpours in June. Sato will restart 17th and Hawksworth will restart in 20th in the race which will be 177 laps long. The race will be televised live on NBC Sports Network starting at 9 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Report: ABC Supply 500

LONG POND, Pa. August 20, 2016—Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth both posted their career best qualifying runs on superspeedways while qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway today.

Driving the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Sato qualified third (beating his personal best of fourth at this track two years ago) with a two-lap average speed of 220.067mph. Hawksworth will start 12th in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda with an average speed of 218.051mph.

“Very, very happy about our qualifying run,” Sato said afterwards. “We had a very good baseline car. We tested here a couple weeks ago which helped massively and we gained a good understanding for the strong superspeedway package that Honda worked so hard on and it looks like we have a pretty strong car. It’s a lot of compliments to our engineering staff particularly my race engineer Raul who worked on so many details and the car was almost perfect and I really enjoyed running those two laps. It’s a fantastic achievement. Hopefully we’ll have a strong car for the race and have a good day tomorrow.”

Hawksworth, who missed his first race at this track in 2014 due to a practice accident wherein he sustained a bruised heart, was pleased with his run which at the time was fifth quickest through the first 12 qualifiers.

“Pretty good qualifying considering we didn’t get much running here at the test,” the 25-year-old Brit said. “I think we did a good job this morning to get the car where we needed it to be. We did a qualifying sim and the car felt pretty good. We stayed the same for qualifying, not anticipating what the track was going to do but knowing if we kept the starting platform we should be okay and we did. It worked out okay since we qualified in the top half. Now we just have to do the work tonight to get the car dialed in for traffic and drive a strong race tomorrow.”

Mikhail Aleshin won his first Verizon P-1 Award with his two-lap average speed of 220.445mph. He became the first Russian to do. Josef Newgarden was second, followed by Sato, Helio Castroneves and Carlos Munoz. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball and Juan Pablo Montoya crashed in practice this morning but all drivers escaped injury. Hunter-Reay was the only driver to not attempt a qualification run in a backup car. The defending race winner will start last tomorrow.

The ABC Supply 500 will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network tomorrow starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.

NOTES & QUOTES: ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway

Takuma Sato: No. 14 ABC Supply Honda
Jack Hawksworth: No. 41 ABC Supply Honda

Takuma Sato On:

o Pocono Raceway: “I always enjoy coming back to Pocono, simply the track is awesome and racing here is exciting one. I also enjoy the scenery of this region with its dense forest - it feels so good to be here.”

o What he likes about the track: “This track is great fun to drive, so I personally like Pocono a lot. We have been strong here from the first year so I think our philosophy works well and I really enjoy it. The sensation of speed going into the high-banked Turn 1 is very impressive. The balance of the car changing in Turn 2 and Turn 3 to being more neutral due to less and less banking makes it challenging, particularly Turn 3 is very challenging. The track just gives us great overtaking opportunities too, so the race here is always exciting.”

o The Pocono test: “It was a good test. Unfortunately not a lot of running for us, but we collected very valuable data. We learned a lot about the aero as we will run with dome-skid safety device because it’s now the new standard for the super-speedway package.”

o Putting last year’s tragedy behind him: “It’s hard for us to accept, we lost our good friend. Having said that, it’s important to go forward and because of Justin, our safety’s been improved this year. IndyCar is putting a lot of commitment for our safety environment and the progress has been great. So we will race hard but we will always be thinking about him.”

o How he enjoyed his time off: “Spent another great time in Canada as same as last year…lots of fun activities. It was a fantastic time to spend together with my kids in nature and we couldn’t ask for any better weather too. It was just simply a stunning time so I’m totally refreshed.”

Jack Hawksworth On:

o Pocono Raceway: “"Looking forward to the race this weekend. Sometimes this one can be action-packed and sometimes it can be pretty strung out. Judging by last year, I expect it to be more of the former which should be good for the fans. With it being an ABC Supply-sponsored race it will be extra special for our team. Hopefully we have a good weekend and give them something to cheer about."

o Third time the charm? Why he expects a better outcome at Pocono: “Last year we had good pace in the race but unfortunately we lost a rear wheel after the first pit stop and we were then several laps down. We were then cutting through the field well before Kimball turned in on me as I tried to unlap myself into Turn 1. If we can have that kind of race car again without the issues then I believe it will be a fine race for us.”

o The Pocono test: “Unfortunately we didn't get to hit many of our test items during the day but we will try to recover the situation on Saturday and put ourselves in a position to go forward in the race. I think we have a relatively ok starting point but we will need to do a lot of work, especially in traffic.”

o How he enjoyed his time off: “I spent some time in Greece on island called Zante with some of my family and friends who live out there. It was a lot of fun, we spent most of our time at the beach and by the pool!”

 

A.J. Foyt will be at Pocono this year: Last year Foyt underwent surgery August 10 due to a staph infection in his right artificial knee. He missed the final two races of the season.