The NTT IndyCar Series was preparing to open their 2020 season this weekend still on the streets of St. Pete – albeit without any fans in attendance. That has since changed.
On Friday morning, series officials have decided to instead postpone the race weekend until further notice. That comes in wake of Thursday’s announcement that next month’s race on the streets of Long Beach is also postponed. By virtue of that, IndyCar made the call to just postpone the season through April now.
“After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT INDYCAR Series events through April,” a statement read. “This begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which was to begin today and run through Sunday, March 15 and continues through the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas which was to take place April 24-26. Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this INDYCAR season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority. We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule.”
That means next months race at the Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala as well at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX are going to be moved too.
What this means for the rest of the season remains unknown. As of now, the season would start in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway unless they can fill in a race during the opening weekend of May.
The news of St. Pete isn’t shocking as NASCAR postponed their race next weekend in Homestead already. On Thursday, NHRA postponed the Gator Nationals in Gainesville while IMSA postponed next week’s 12 Hours of Sebring back to November.
The problem with St. Pete and Long Beach, finding a suitable makeup date could be tough. Street courses cause a lot of disruption which takes meticulous planning. You can’t just throw a race in without a ton of effort. Their status for 2020 could be in doubt, but luckily enough, they have deals in place to return in 2021.