FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — IndyCar has gotten the green flag to finally start its season in Texas next month with a nighttime race June 6 without spectators.
The race at Texas Motor Speedway was the next one on the series schedule that hadn’t been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. IndyCar and track officials announced the details Thursday, heavy with safety precautions.
IndyCar President Jay Frye said IndyCar worked with TMS President Eddie Gossage and public health officials on a plan to “ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”
Texas has hosted IndyCar races since the 1 1/2-mile track opened in 1997. TMS used to have the first race after the Indianapolis 500 in late May and hosted two races a year from 1998-2004, including the series finale the last six years of that stretch.
The June season opener will be on a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. There will be strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site, with health screening system administered to all participants and personal protection equipment provided to everyone entering the facility.
Social distancing protocols will be in place and carefully maintained.
The season will now close with the original opener in St. Petersburg, Florida October 25.
IndyCar was supposed to start its season March 15 on the temporary street course and teams were already in place to compete before sports shut down. IndyCar initially planned to go forward with the opener without spectators but ultimately suspended the season 48 hours before the race.
“The streets of St. Petersburg will make for a fitting and action-packed finale in a venue and city that our entire IndyCar community holds dear,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said.
It will be the 16th consecutive season that St. Petersburg hosts a race but the first time it will be the season finale.