Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports columns

January 3, 2012

de la BASTIDE: IndyCar schedule is lacking ovals

Stewart sweeps Fort Wayne Rumble

— When Tony George started the Indy Racing League in the 1990s, the intent was to conduct all the racing on oval tracks.

Since the merger with CART, there has been a combination of oval tracks and street and road courses on the schedule, but the 2012 schedule shows a lack of ovals. There are 15 races for 2012 at this point.

The first oval race for 2012 will be the Indianapolis 500 in May followed by June races at Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway. So far the only other oval race is set for Sept. 23 at Auto Club Speedway in California.

Izod IndyCar officials have indicated that two more races could be added to the 2012 schedule, hopefully on oval tracks.

This year IndyCar is unveiling a new car and providing teams with several engine options for the 2012 season.

It’s disappointing that the series will not be competing on more ovals this year.

You would think there would be options for IndyCar at oval tracks. Races at Chicagoland Speedway were some of the best oval racing regardless of car type.

Why isn’t the series returning to the Milwaukee Mile, long a regular stop for the series? Why didn’t New Hampshire International and Kentucky Speedway seek returns of the series? Michigan International Speedway is another possible location.

The IRL started on the oval at Disney World Speedway, a track that is still used for the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Is the real problem that most of the oval tracks are owned and operated today by NASCAR? Does it benefit NASCAR to keep IndyCar off the oval tracks it manages as a way to lessen the competition for the fan’s dollars for tickets and viewership on television?

There is no competition between NASCAR and IndyCar. Open-wheel fans are not generally huge fans of stock car racing and the same can be said of stock car racing fans.

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