Just a Few Tweaks for 2023

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The 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule was finally unveiled on Tuesday. Based on the hoopla that was produced on social media starting on Monday, after thinking it would’ve been released a few weeks ago – one might have thought there was a big surprise after waiting this long. If you were anticipating some big announcement on Tuesday, you were sadly mistaken.

The good news is that there were no disappointments. When there is a delay in the release of next year’s schedule, the fear is that there is a giant bombshell that the series is waiting for the right time to drop on us. That didn’t happen either.

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What we did get was a mildly tweaked version of the 2022 schedule, with a couple of date changes even when the order was the same as this year’s. For example, the 2023 season kicks off as usual at St. Petersburg – albeit one week later. Like this past season, Race Two is at Texas – a daytime race. But instead of being three weeks after St. Petersburg – Texas is a full four weeks after Race One. I’m sure IndyCar officials did their best to avoid that long span between the first two race, but to me – that’s inexcusable. Any momentum gained from the season-opener will be lost four weeks later.

For the next two months, nothing changes from the 2022 schedule. But after the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, June changes quite a bit. Detroit will run over the same weekend as last year, but at a different venue. After thirty years, the series will leave Belle Isle for a downtown track full of 90° turns. Since I’ve been scolded for sharing my dislike for Belle Isle on this site, I won’t pass judgment until I see a race from there. Besides, who am I to judge when I live in the city that has hosted the biggest crashfest of the season for the past two years?

Fortunately for those of us that attend every year – Road America has been moved back a week. After a grueling Month of May, it was tough to climb back in the car and drive to Wisconsin just two weeks after three weekends in a row at IMS. Next year, there will be a two-week gap between Detroit and Road America.

July will be almost identical to 2022, except that the Brickyard weekend moves back into August. That eliminates the tough stretch we saw last summer that had five races over four straight weekends.

The biggest changes to the 2023 schedule come in August. The Music City Grand Prix stays on the first weekend in August, after a two-week break following the double-header at Iowa. The Brickyard weekend is back to the week after Nashville, as opposed to before Nashville like it was this past season. There is a weekend break between the Brickyard and Gateway, which will be a week later next year.

The bad news for Gateway is that it will run on a Sunday, which means heat, and an afternoon race. Hopefully, it will be an early afternoon green flag to give those of us in attendance a chance to get back home at a decent hour. That also means there will be no night races for the second year in a row. Had Gateway not been rain-delayed this year, it would have finished in daylight. Next year, it sounds like it will finish in broad daylight. I’m not sure what is dictating the lack of night racing, but it is a big mistake.

The west coast swing begins one week later on Labor Day weekend at Portland; a week before the season finale at Laguna Seca.

The good news is the television coverage. Of the seventeen races, thirteen will be on network television – on Big NBC. Three will be on USA Network (Road America, Mid-Ohio and the Brickyard weekend. Toronto will again be shown exclusively on Peacock. Both days of the Indianapolis 500 Qualifying weekend will be shown on Big NBC, as opposed to only one this past season.

I’m not trying to sound like motorsports journalist with tons of sources, but I did talk to one well-informed person at Gateway that told me the 2023 schedule would be nearly the same as this year. That turned out to be correct. This same person also said that it sounds like the 2024 schedule will be drastically different. When I asked what that meant, he told me it meant some different dates and some different venues.

My take is the schedule is slightly better than the 2022 slate, simply because there are a couple of extra weekend breaks built in. Of course, there is also almost a month between the first and second races of the season. I don’t like the lack of a night race, but I am pleasantly surprised that there are still thirteen races on network television.

As mild as the tweaks were to the 2023 schedule, the conversation I had at Gateway last month has me curious what we’ll be talking about a year ago.Stay tuned.

George Phillips

8 Responses to “Just a Few Tweaks for 2023”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    I expect this schedule was built to get as many races as possible into available NBC time slots. Night races have traditionally been middling performers on TV, so perhaps both NBC and Indycar preferred to avoid them. Unfortunate for fans at Iowa and Gateway. Weather at Texas should be nice in the daytime in April, at least.

    That said, as unexciting as schedule continuity is… it is also a generally positive thing for the series, which has seen massive race turnover for decades now. 21 different tracks have hosted an Indycar race since 2008 that are no longer on the schedule. Go back to 1996 and that number grows to 46. Having the same schedule year-over-year has not be common in recent years, and it has usually been uncommon in a negative way.

  2. Nothing exciting, but the stability is good. That’s more than a certain stock car racing series can say about their schedule.

  3. James T Suel Says:

    My biggest concern is Gateway. 3pm start they will kill this race. The crowds are down already. It needs to be a night race.

  4. Give me 20 races over eight month’s and reduce the gap between St. Pete and Texas.

  5. Talon De Brea Says:

    Maybe the gap after St. Pete will be filled by a new race at a new venue … maybe Mexico or another warm-weather location … maybe date equity for surrounding dates is being established.

  6. I am happy to have 13 races on the main NBC. What is your take on Toronto not being on NBC or USA?

    • It is in the contract that at least one race will appear on Peacock each season. I suppose they have a reason to make it Toronto each year.

      • I didn’t know that one had to be on Peacock. I don’t mind, if I catch it when it starts. I had a couple of instances this year where it took hours for the event to show up as a replay. Thanks, George, for the info.

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