Port­land re­places The Glen on sched­ule

The Signal - - SPORTS - Jim Ayello @ji­mayello USA TO­DAY Sports Ayello and Horner write for The In­di­anapo­lis Star, part of the USA TO­DAY Net­work. Con­tribut­ing: Scott Horner

Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS will not be part of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series sched­ule, the cir­cuit an­nounced Thurs­day. The road-course race at the le­gendary track will be re­placed by an event at Port­land In­ter­na­tional Race­way.

The Glen has strug­gled to draw big crowds on La­bor Day week­end the last two years.

Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional Pres­i­dent Michael Printup told

Racer mag­a­zine re­cently, “We’ve had two good races, but it’s been an up­hill climb try­ing to make it work. I don’t think the dates help us any be­cause July 4 and La­bor Day don’t seem to be good. I asked IndyCar about chang­ing dates, but there weren’t any avail­able.”

Watkins Glen, which re­turned to the series in 2016 after a sixyear hia­tus, took the place of a planned Bos­ton street-course race that never ma­te­ri­al­ized. Scott Dixon won at The Glen in its 2016 re­turn, while Alexan­der Rossi won the race there this sea­son.

Indy cars last raced at Port­land in 2007 as part of the Champ Car Series. Be­fore that, CART hosted races in Port­land from 1984 to 2003 be­fore Champ Car took over from 2005 to 2007. Dale Coyne Racing’s Se­bastien Bour­dais is the only cur­rent IndyCar driver who has won an Indy car race at Port­land.

“IndyCar couldn’t be more ex­cited to again race in front of one of our strong­est fan bases,” IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said in a news re­lease about the sched­ule. “Port­land In­ter­na­tional Race­way has pro­duced thrilling road racing through­out Indy car his­tory — the 1997 fin­ish still stands as the record for the clos­est fin­ish on a road or street course.”

With­out Watkins Glen, the series doesn’t have a race fur­ther north­east than Po­cono Race­way, in the moun­tains of Penn­syl­va­nia.

The North­east is “the great­est need for the series,” Miles said. He added the Mid­west is “our home base” and that with races in In­di­anapo­lis, Wis­con­sin, Illi­nois, Ohio and Iowa, it’s not as likely that the series would soon re­turn to tracks such as Chicagoland or Ken­tucky.

The IndyCar Series re­leased its fi­nal 2018 sched­ule Thurs­day. But it might not be the fi­nal fi­nal sched­ule. Mex­ico City isn’t on the sched­ule — yet.

“I think there is a pos­si­bil­ity of adding Mex­ico City for (2018),” Miles said. “It’s quite close. We’re op­ti­mistic.”

IndyCar doesn’t like that three-week gap be­tween races dur­ing the sum­mer and would wel­come an­other race if the de­tails can be worked out.

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