10/09/2012 03:42 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2012

2013 IndyCar Schedule Thoughts

The 2013 IZOD Indycar Series schedule is as follows:

March 24 - St. Petersburg, street circuit, (NBCSN)
April 7 - Birmingham, Ala., road course, (NBCSN)
April 21 - Long Beach, street circuit, (NBCSN)
May 5 - Sao Paulo, Brazil, street circuit, (NBCSN)
May 26 - Indianapolis 500, oval, (ABC)
June 1 - Detroit, street circuit, (ABC)
June 2 - Detroit, Street circuit, (ABC)
June 8 - Fort Worth, Texas, oval, (ABC)
June 15 - Milwaukee, oval, (NBCSN)
June 23 - Newton, Iowa, oval, (ABC)
July 7 - Pocono, Pa., oval, (ABC)
July 13 - Toronto, street circuit, (NBCSN)
July 14 - Toronto, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Aug. 4 - Lexington, Ohio, road course, (NBCSN)
Aug. 25 - Sonoma, Calif., road course, (NBCSN)
Sept. 1 - Baltimore, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Oct. 5 - Houston, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Oct. 6 - Houston, street circuit, (NBCSN)
Oct. 19 - Fontana, Calif., oval, (NBCSN)

What we are presented with features nine road/street circuits and six ovals. Returning races at Pocono Raceway and the Streets of Houston are the only new additions to the schedule and Edmonton is the only race not returning. Pocono was designed for Indycars and produced some good racing back in the 70s and 80s, and Houston had a great fan following during the CART/Champ Car years, so both should be welcome returns for IndyCar.

A new feature to the schedule is the return of the Triple Crown which includes the Indianapolis 500, the return of IndyCar to the Pocono Raceway with a 400 mile race, and the season finale MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. A $1,000,000 prize is up for grabs if a driver can win all three, and if a driver wins 2 out of 3, a $250,000 prize will be awarded. As I noted in my article If I Ran IndyCar... I feel that this is a step in the right direction. It's not just tradition, In order for IndyCar to attract some new fans and to stand out, it needs some pinnacle events, and the Triple Crown is just that.

Doubleheader races at Detroit, Toronto and Houston are a new feature as well. The races will be full distance races, rather than a split race (like the Texas 275s of the 2011 season). Also one of each of the races will feature a standing start. After hearing that they will be full distance races, worth full points and prize money, I feel that it is worth a try but I feel torn as well. Some pros are that it gives the fans that are traveling to the races an opportunity to see more on track action. For the race teams and the tracks, it is feasible. Crash damage is usually not as bad as an oval, so the teams would not have to do much work in order to get the cars ready for the second race. A con of the doubleheaders are that it gives an artificially longer schedule (19 races, but only 16 weekends). The increased exposure of having two races on the same weekend may help on the television side of things, but if IndyCar wants spread its image, it needs to run at as many places as possible. They have been talking to other places like Providence, RI about running a street race there as well as Road America, but neither materialized this year.

The TV coverage package is also improved a bit from last year. NBC Sports is carrying 13 races, and ABC is covering the remaining 6, including the Indianapolis 500 and the Pocono 400, the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Also the Firestone 550k at Texas will be shown in prime time, which should also get IndyCar some much-needed exposure. The races on ABC are all together in a block with a race on NBC Sports (Milwaukee) in between. The races on network television being grouped together like that will make it easier for people to follow and that should help build momentum. ABC just needs to step up their coverage, which they are capable of doing if they make the right decisions.