INDIANAPOLIS – NASCAR is about to wrap up their west coast swing on Sunday in Fontana. That mixed with a photo that Sonoma Raceway tweeted out on Wednesday got me thinking. That’s a dangerous thing too. But, in my warped brain of mine, I wondered why not move Sonoma’s Verizon IndyCar Series date up to the spring?
I mean, think about it, NASCAR is wrapping up a west coast tour, why not start one for INDYCAR?
They’re already at Phoenix on April 7, then Long Beach on April 15. Why can’t Sonoma bridge the gap between St. Pete (March 11) and that April 7 race in Phoenix? I know Easter is the week before Phoenix this season, but next year, Easter is on April 21. Why can’t it be St. Pete March 10, Sonoma March 31, Phoenix April 6, Long Beach April 14 for four races to start the 2018 season?
I mean, look at that picture, Sonoma is beautiful this time of year. We saw it during the INDYCAR test last month. There’s actual grass around the track. When the series races there in September, it’s dirt.
The track in the early spring is scenic.
Plus, it gets the season finale away from them. Nothing against Sonoma, but to have a season finale there is criminal. It’s pretty unanimous amongst the paddock, the fan base and the media, that having the season end at Sonoma is the worst possible place.
First off, the start time isn’t favorable as the finale doesn’t even start until after 6:30 on the east coast. Secondly, the passing is few and far between. It’s not an ideal track for these car for a finale with so much on the line. I agree with everyone that the season should end on an oval. Gateway is the best possible place to do that.
So, you could still go to Portland on Labor Day weekend, then on your way back east, stop at Gateway and end the season. Plus, if you want to have another race out west, it opens the door for Laguna Seca or somewhere like that while you’re already out there.
Even more, think about the travel it will save on the teams. Package all three races together and the next time they head west is to Texas in June and Iowa in July. Even those two tracks are technically that far “west.” That keeps the teams close to base and helps logistically.
Then, think about the fans. Phoenix and Long Beach are already back-to-back so it’s not like you’re oversaturating the area with races.
It’s a win-win.