Auto Club Speedway will get a lot more busy today as 22 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers are expected to test in advance of Saturday night’s season-ending MAV TV 500.
The two-mile oval in Fontana, California has seen a good amount of testing already as its first IndyCar race since 2005 looms. Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud tested out aerodynamic packages late last month, and just last week, a group of eight competitors — including championship rivals Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay, turned laps.
Since then, INDYCAR has revealed that cars will be outfitted for Fontana with a version of the Speedway aero configuration that will not feature a rear wing wicker.
Today’s test is open to the public from 5-8 p.m. PT. Spectators are asked to enter at the track’s main security gate (9300 Cherry Ave. in Fontana) and either present either an already purchased MAV TV 500 race ticket, buy a race ticket at the tunnel, or make a $10 donation to the track’s charity foundation (also at the tunnel). Viewing will take place at the East end of the track’s Terrace Suites above pit road.
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard has been kicking around the idea of double-header weekends for next season as he looks to raise exposure for the series by providing more product. It sounds like, amongst track promoters, he’s got one taker on the idea.
Belle Isle event chairman Bud Denker, who’s currently in the midst of overseeing a big track repair project on the Detroit island, has indicated his interest in having the Chevrolet Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix host a two-race weekend for the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“I raised my hand — bring it here,” Denker said in yesterday’s Detroit Free Press. Another article in Monday’s Detroit News has Denker stating that a Saturday afternoon IndyCar race could help solve attendance problems in the middle part of the event weekend.
There’s been some idle chatter about how doubleheaders could negatively impact INDYCAR’s image, but quite frankly, when you’re having to contend with a mediocre average of around 300,000 viewers every week on NBC Sports Network, boosting interest becomes Priority One. It’s one thing to have pride, but it’s another to have too much of it and ignore problems such as this.
That said, I can’t say there’s a big clamor from the base for a double-header at Belle Isle, especially after this past June’s saga of a crumbling track that forced race officials to chop 30 laps from the scheduled distance due to repairs.
Meanwhile, it’s looking more and more like Pocono Raceway will be added to the 2013 campaign. Nothing official has been set, but when you read the tea leaves, it appears that the newly repaved ‘Tricky Triangle’ is set to stage its first open-wheel race since 1989…