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Roger Penske: IndyCar looking to add more ovals in future

Roger Penske, owner of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, says Penske Entertainment is currently seeking to add more ovals to the schedule in the years ahead, but there is nothing concrete to report yet.

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In 2023, IndyCar will have five oval races alongside five temporary/street course events races and seven races on natural terrain road courses. But there are hopes to expand the oval roster in ’24 and beyond, although there were no firm plans yet in place.

Penske told Motorsport.com: “We are looking at Milwaukee – and to how we can add ovals to our schedule in the future – but we certainly don’t have a deal to return there and anything you’ve heard like that is somewhat speculation.

“Obviously we’ve raced well there before, like you said, like Rick [Mears] said, and it would certainly add to our series to have Milwaukee back, given our history there. But there is no deal done at all so I would not want you to think that at all. I can just say we’re looking at a number of different locations and that’s one of them.

“A lot of work needs to be done before it would be acceptable to us, so that’s another aspect we’ve got to figure out. It’s like all these things – we have ideas where we want to go, but there’s a lot that needs to be done to make it happen.”

Iowa Speedway disappeared from the IndyCar schedule in 2021, returning this past season with a double-header promoted heavily by Hy-Vee. Reportedly, 80,000 fans gathered at the little oval over the weekend, a figure doubtless bolstered by the fact that there were concerts from superstar acts Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line. Penske said that IndyCar would be seeking a similarly committed promoter to make a new – or old – venue work.

“We had to spend a lot of time and effort on Iowa to get it to a place where we had a promoter who could make it a success,” he said, “and we want to make sure that wherever we go, we have the quality of a big event for the fans, and proper access for them, and a venue that is safe for the drivers.

“Then from the television perspective, we have to look at what weekends are available, what time of the year we want to be racing there, et cetera. So it’s not just a case of, ‘Hey, let’s go here’ and it works. There’s a lot of effort that needs to be put in, over a long period.”

Asked if superspeedways, including Pocono, might possibly be on IndyCar’s medium- or long-term agenda, Penske replied that clinching a new deal with 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway for a race in early April had been highly significant for more than one reason.

“The good news is, we’re going back to Texas,” he said. “That was a big one that I was really anxious to do because I want to have a high-speed oval for anyone that’s going to run Indianapolis. It’s good for the drivers and the teams to have had the experience of Texas.

“If you go back to the old days, to run at Indianapolis, we had to run Mark Donohue [Penske’s first Indy winner and team talisman] first at Phoenix and Trenton before we could even go to Indianapolis to take the rookie test. I think that was a good system, because we need to make sure that we don’t have people just buying rides for the 500 and trying to run at the Speedway right away unless they’re really experienced.

“So we’re going to invest heavily in the Texas race and try and make it a success, not just for preparing for Indy, but also because that is a key market for not just us but also for NTT.

“We’re trying to have a robust schedule, one that has great track diversity, and we’ve got to make all the events work, and be able to put on a great show on all types of track.”

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