Expanded ’13 schedule features three doubleheader weekends

Anxious to grow its fan base, the IZOD IndyCar Series will take on an expanded, 19-race schedule for the 2013 campaign. The schedule, whose full form was officially revealed on Sunday night’s edition of the SPEED Channel show “Wind Tunnel,” features three doubleheader weekends at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, Toronto, and Houston.

Houston’s street race is one of two new events on the docket, with historical open-wheel venue Pocono Raceway also joining the circuit.

“We want to create more exposure and content for our sport, and we feel this strong and diverse schedule along with the addition of doubleheader races will provide an opportunity to further showcase the skills and personalities of the IZOD IndyCar Series next season,” said series CEO Randy Bernard in a statement issued by the series.

“We look forward to watching Ryan Hunter-Reay defend his title, the second year of engine manufacturer competition and the best-of-the-best tackle this challenging schedule in 2013.”

As for those three double-headers, Bernard said that one race will feature a standing start and the other race will have a rolling start. Each doubleheader race will have the same value in points and prize money.

Also coming in 2013 will be the return of an oval-track Triple Crown made up of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, the Pocono race on July 7, and the season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Oct. 19.

If any driver can win all three of those races, they’ll earn a $1 million bonus. A smaller sum of $250,000 will also be available for a driver that wins two of those three races.

The series will once again open the year with four straight road/street courses (starting with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 24) before going into the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

The first doubleheader in Detroit follows on June 1-2, and then comes four consecutive races on ovals with Texas (June 8), Milwaukee (June 15), Iowa (June 23), and the new round at Pocono’s 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle.” Bernard said on “Wind Tunnel” that Pocono will be on the schedule for at least the next three years.

Doubleheader No. 2 comes one week later in Toronto on July 13-14. Then comes August, which features events at Mid-Ohio (Aug. 4) and Sonoma (Aug. 25), followed by Baltimore in its usual Labor Day weekend setting on September 1.

In a curious move, the series will then not race again until the Shell + Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Oct. 5-6; one wonders — hopes? — if a 20th race is or will be in the works to fill that gap later this offseason. Two weeks later, Auto Club Speedway will host the INDYCAR World Championships on Oct. 19 to finish the year.

IZOD IndyCar Series – 2013 Schedule

March 24 — St. Petersburg, Fla. (street) on NBC Sports Network

April 7 — Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala. (road) on NBC Sports Network

April 21 — Long Beach, Calif. (street) on NBC Sports Network

May 5 — Sao Paulo, Brazil (street) on NBC Sports Network

May 26 — Indianapolis 500 (oval) on ABC

June 1-2 — Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Mich. (street) on ABC

June 8 — Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Tex. (oval) on ABC

June 15 — Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis. (oval) on NBC Sports Network

June 23 — Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa (oval) on ABC

July 7 — Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (oval) on ABC

July 13-14 — Toronto, Ontario (street) on NBC Sports Network

Aug. 4 — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (road) on NBC Sports Network

Aug. 25 — The Raceway at Sonoma (road) on NBC Sports Network

Sept. 1 — Baltimore, Maryland (street) on NBC Sports Network

Oct. 5-6 — Houston, Texas (street) on NBC Sports Network

Oct. 19 — Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif. (oval) on NBC Sports Network