INDIANAPOLIS — The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete was slated to be the NTT IndyCar Series season opener, again. Now, the first canceled, then later postponed, race will likely be moved to the season finale for this season.
The Coronoavirus halted this year’s race two weeks ago, as we went from a postponement to a virtual cancelation. Hosting a street race, during a different part of the year than originally planned is a logistical nightmare.
Both city and series officials spoke to that during the postponement of the 2020 season opener. The chances of the race being slated for later in the year at that time looked bleak. After all, the race on the streets of Long Beach had already been canceled for 2020.
But, in part of the revised IndyCar schedule that was released on Thursday, St. Pete appears to be back on – albeit for late September or even in October. The release says the race in St. Pete is the “expected finale.”
No date was given but if that’s the case, it can’t be any earlier than Sept. 26 or 27 due to Laguna Seca being run on Sunday, Sept. 20.
Would they really make teams drive cross country in a week though? Likely not. So, expect this race to be run sometime in October if they can make it happen.
The race promoters released a statement of this possible venture.
“IndyCar announced earlier today that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is expected to be rescheduled for later in 2020. The event was originally set for March 13-15, 2020. This shift to a later date is in support of the NTT IndyCar SERIES’ efforts to run as many of its points championship races as possible in 2020 and would be expected to serve as the season finale round.
“The rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain the priority of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Previously purchased tickets to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg would be valid and honored on the rescheduled date yet to be determined.”
Having a season finale back in the eastern time zone is huge and makes this race equally, if not more, important than it would have been two weeks ago.