For the second straight week, the NTT INDYCAR Series will conduct a doubleheader weekend. Last weekend, it was on the Series’ longest track of the schedule at Road America. This weekend, they move to the shortest (Iowa Speedway).
A pair of races will run on both Friday and Saturday night on the 7/8-mile central Iowa bullring. They’ll do so in front of 4-5k fans each night.
Track officials say Saturday nights 250-mile race is sold out while a few tickets remain from Friday’s opening night of the twin bill.
Once this weekend is over, Iowa has no more dates left in 2020. With the uncertainty of a pandemic, Iowa will take what they can get.
“As far as on track, looking forward to seeing some of those young guns go at it on the 7/8th mile oval here at Iowa,” said President of the race, Michael Montri. “Should be some exciting races. Two night races in a row. Doubleheader. It will be interesting to see what some of the teams do from one night to another.”
That’s something Montri hopes will come back in 2021. He says that the track is open to hosting a doubleheader header opportunity next season if the offer is extended to do so again.
“Look, the schedule for next year obviously is a long way away,” Montri said. “I think one thing about the community here, they’re very, very excited to be having INDYCAR coming 14 years in a row now. A great racing community. Very supportive. I don’t see any reason why certainly from a track standpoint that wouldn’t work.
“NASCAR is the owner of the facility here. Their team in the past has been in charge of getting sponsors, title sponsors. I’m representing INDYCAR here as the promoter. We were a little late to the game this year. Certainly if we have a similar arrangement next year, that will be the first priority.
Roger Penske is said to having been keen on keeping more doubleheaders in the future too. He would like to have a few for 2021 including his own race at Belle Isle, who Montri is also the President of.
Iowa would be a natural fit to keep it going. After all, we started the doubleheader’s off nearly a decade ago with three of them on the schedule.
The teams are open to it too. They don’t want a ton of them, but a couple would be ideal.
“I mean, I don’t mind, said Bobby Rahal, co owner of Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing. “If there was anything I would prefer to see is more time associated in terms of practice. I know the idea is to not run as much, minimize costs perhaps. Of course, I think because everything is so compressed, if you have a problem, if you got a crash in qualifying on Sunday at Elkhart Lake, you probably weren’t going to make the race, even if it was repairable, because you just wouldn’t have the time.
“There’s maybe ways you can solve that. For example, you’re not allowed to have the spare car out of the trailer. You’re not allowed to have the spare car with an engine in it. That could certainly offset those issues. But that obviously takes the engine manufacturer’s approval for that. Obviously INDYCAR’s as well.
“I don’t mind the two race per weekend. I only thing I would say is the teams face in a situation like that, for example, this weekend we have One Cure, which is our charitable organization with Colorado State University, the oncology program there at the veterinary hospital.
“On Sunday we’re introducing for the first time, to my knowledge the first time, our sponsor here, our client here is Hy-Vee, which is a large grocery store chain in 12 states here in the Midwest part of the country. That’s exciting. There’s a big Hy-Vee store in downtown Newton. That’s exciting for us to welcome Hy-Vee to us and INDYCAR racing.
“It is the One Cure car on Friday, then everybody has to work like heck to turn the livery around so it can be the Hy-Vee car on Saturday. That’s a challenge for teams given the way the rules are right now. But if those rules were changed to allow that kind of thing, then it’s no big deal. We’ll see.
“But I don’t mind the concept of double races. Certainly Elkhart Lake is a track that can easily handle that. Mid-Ohio probably. I’m not sure of some of the others. I don’t know if you’d want two races on a street race weekend, for example.
“I mean, it does save costs, there’s no question of that. Again, you have to drive value for our sponsors and opportunities for our sponsors. Somehow that would have to be all I think worked out.”