INDIANAPOLIS – While the Verizon IndyCar Series heads into a much needed off week, the three races presiding the week off, well those will be a big topic of conversation for the foreseeable future. See, INDYCAR hasn’t announced the 2019 schedule yet and until they do, the battle to be the first race after the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 is going to be a fight between Belle Isle and Texas.
Bud Denker said that Belle Isle would be back on the schedule in 2019 and in the same spot. He even mentioned being on network TV like NBC. See, Denker represents Roger Penske in running this race as Penske spearheaded the return to the island over a decade ago. With the economic crisis in Detroit from 2009 to 2011, the race wasn’t run. But, it returned in 2012 and with Penske leading the charge, the race was given prime real estate on the INDYCAR schedule – the week after the Indy 500. Penske, poured in millions for renovations and improvements to the island making it worthwhile for the series as well as for the city for this event to be on the schedule.
Where Milwaukee used to be the primary destination to follow Indy, Detroit have since been a stable over the last seven years. We all just assumed that if the race returns in 2019, and all signs point to it doing so, it would be in its usual location on the schedule – the week after Indy. But, Eddie Gossage has ruffled some feathers lately saying that he wants that spot back.
In 2010 and 2011, Texas was the next race following Indy. Gossage says that he and the Texas Motor Speedway had a handshake agreement that the series would go from Indy to Texas in 2012 and beyond. Instead, Belle Isle came back in 2012 and was placed behind Indy but before Texas on the schedule. It’s remained that way ever since. While Gossage admits that this was with a prior INDYCAR administration, he’s made it clear that while a deal isn’t in place for INDYCAR and the 1.5-mile track past this season, that he wants INDYCAR back and says that if the two sides want to grow this thing, his track needs to be behind Indy.
This all isn’t necessarily a bad thing for INDYCAR. Don’t take this as that. INDYCAR is in the drivers seat here. You have two heavy hitters now battling it out for a coveted spot on the schedule. Penske vs. Gossage. This could get expensive which what, helps INDYCAR.
It’s going to be an interesting battle and development to watch over the coming months. Gossage has taken shots at Belle Isle and the kind of racing you see there while not only talking up his race, but also casting some stones about how he wants to see INDYCAR race at his track too.
Buckle up, because this is going to be an intense battle that will unfold.