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Sunday, November 27, 2022
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DEHARDE: Five Takeaways From IndyCar’s 2023 Schedule Unveiling

The start of the 2022 Sonsio Grand Prix of Road America.
The start of the 2022 Sonsio Grand Prix of Road America. Photo courtesy of Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment.

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On Tuesday, IndyCar announced their 17-race schedule for the 2023 season. Here are five takeaways from the schedule announcement.

1. Date Equity Matters

Keeping race dates at the same time of the year for several years in a row helps some venues gain a larger following in the community. Across the 16 race weekends for 2023, 10 of those race weekends are on the same weekend that they were in 2022. Four races have a one-week adjustment (St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Road America and WWT Raceway) while the remaining two weekends (Texas Motor Speedway and the second Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course race) have a two-week change to their dates.

That’s pretty big for a schedule. Having a limited amount of movement on the calendar for dates allows spectators to begin planning their vacations sooner and try to get their travel budgets set in addition to letting the local population know what’s coming to town.

2. A Big Win For TV

Network TV continues to be a big draw for the IndyCar schedule following the amount of 2022 races on NBC. In 2023, 13 of the 17 races are on NBC, with three races on USA Network and Toronto on Peacock.

While having one race exclusively on a streaming platform is not an ideal solution, but having over 75 percent of all races on a broadcast network is still a big deal.

3. Conflict: Mostly Avoided

In 2022, IndyCar and IMSA had several conflicting weekends, most notably the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend when IndyCar was at Texas. In 2023, there are four conflicting weekends between the two championships, allowing fans to not have to pick and choose as often when it comes to seeing their favorite open wheel racers compete or their favorite sports car racers compete.

IndyCar and IMSA both have great products and having them compete head to head is something that should be avoided if possible. This also allows many team personnel that work in both paddocks to be able to work in different environments.

Variety is the spice of life, folks.

4. Ovals.

Yes, we have the same tracks and mostly near the same dates, which is great from a planning perspective, but a small shakeup is needed with an additional oval race, perhaps in the early stretch of the season. If IndyCar can work a deal with Homestead, imagine opening the season at that oval before going to St. Petersburg the following weekend.

Wouldn’t that be a fun visit to Florida, especially with Sebring the weekend after St. Petersburg? Of course, Milwaukee has been a subject of discussion recently, but crowds must show up en masse to make it a must-have event. Milwaukee is a great traditional racing market and racing at the Milwaukee Mile would be a great addition as well.

5. Testing Limitation

One advantage of the spacing late in the 2022 season was the availability for teams to test their cars late in the season at the west coast venues before the final two races of the season. This year has no break between Gateway and the west coast swing at Portland and Laguna Seca, so teams that want to test there will have to do so earlier in the season, which may throw off some of their data.

That will be a tight ask as well since there are only a couple of spots on the calendar available early in the summer stretch, but teams will have to figure those logistics out later.

Overall, the schedule’s an 7.5/10. Missing one point for the long breaks in the season, missing another point for not having enough ovals, and missing half a point for a conflict with the Knoxville Nationals in August. That was a fun race to attend, and missing it will hurt in 2023.

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