Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 21, 2013

de la Bastide: IndyCar to test on IMS road course

Newman is left out in the cold in NASCAR.


Kokomo Tribune

---- — Last weekend at the Indiana-polis Motor Speedway brought interesting news, which could be a sign that another race could be on tap for the famed oval.

Speedway officials announced that one or two teams competing in the Izod IndyCar Series will be testing on the IMS road course. The test, which could come as quickly as the first week in September, will be on various course designs.

A new design for the road course is overdue and is reportedly a sticking point for the MotoGP to sign a longer contract. IMS should make the changes in the course design to make it more challenging and competitive for all the racers.

The rumor has the series competing on the IMS road course in early May as a prelude to the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month.

I agree that an IndyCar race on the road course would be beneficial to both the series and IMS. I don’t agree with an early May date for the race.

The month of May at IMS means only one thing, the Indianapolis 500 — one of, if not the most, recognized races in the world. A race on the road course in early May might distract from the 500.

With IMS officials considering moving the sports car race from the NASCAR weekend, it would make more sense to run the IndyCar Series on the same weekend as the Rolex Grand-Am Series.

Either that, or run the IndyCars on the same weekend as the MotoGP, which has been signed for another year. Having the IndyCars and motorcycles compete on the same weekend could help attendance and expose fans to different forms of racing.

IN OTHER RACING NEWS

• With the announcement that Juan Pablo Montoya would not return to Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR Sprint Cup team in 2014, I hope that he returns to open wheel racing. He already has an offer from Andretti Autosports, which is willing to field a fifth car in the IndyCar Series.

Right now the hottest prospective free agent racing in IndyCar is James Hinchcliffe, in the final year of his contract with Andretti Autosport. Reports are that Ganassi would like to lure Hinchcliffe away from Andretti starting next year.

The return of Montoya would be a boost for open wheel racing in terms of number of fans and exposure.

• You have to feel bad for Brickyard 400 winner and Indiana native Ryan Newman, who was informed by Stewart-Haas Racing that his contract would not be renewed with the team for the 2014 Sprint Cup season.

Within two weeks of that announcement the team has reportedly offered a contract to Kurt Busch to drive a fourth car in the team, joining Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.

With sponsorship from Quicken Loans, I hope that Newman is offered a ride in the Ganassi team’s No. 42, which is being vacated by Montoya. Another possible driver for that seat is Kyle Larson, under contract with Ganassi and currently competing in the Nationwide Series.

• This weekend is a big one for fans of sprint car racing on dirt. Kokomo Speedway is hosting the second annual Kokomo Smackdown for USAC teams. Racing is Thursday, Friday and Saturday, hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7:30 p.m.

There was great racing last year and more can be expected this weekend.

Ken de la Bastide may be reached at ken.delabastide@kokomotribune.com or 765-454-8580.