IndyCar likely to unveil 18-race schedule for 2022

The next NTT IndyCar Series calendar could offer a couple of surprises, with date changes and a shift with its start and end dates. Altogether, 18 races are in the works, one more than was planned for 2021, with Iowa making its return, Toronto coming back – provided COVID-19 does not interfere for a third time – and extensions with a few familiar venues on the annual tour.

Everything below is far from official; IndyCar is said to be preparing its 2022 calendar release for some point in the next week or so. Until then, here’s a prediction of how the schedule might look when it arrives, and RACER understands there are as many as three events with dates that are still being finalized.

Assuming the requested change by Green Savoree Race Promotions is confirmed in Thursday’s St. Petersburg city council meeting, the opening race of 2022 will take place at the beginning of March and be followed by the one major adjustment to the schedule. Another proposed date change for St. Pete has February 27 listed as an option.

At the moment, and thanks to the offer of a prime network spot by NBC, Texas Motor Speedway will leap forward from June to March. This has not been warmly received by IndyCar teams that compete in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. IMSA is also said to be far from pleased, as they’ve been informed that Texas is likely to fall on the same weekend in March where the 12 Hours of Sebring is traditionally held.

With Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, the Vasser Sullivan side of Dale Coyne Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing active in IMSA’s top series, the Texas/Sebring clash is one they’d love to see go away. And with a significant number of their IndyCar drivers pulling double duty in both series, along with a few drivers at teams like A.J. Foyt Racing and Team Penske who are regulars in IMSA, at least eight IndyCar stars could be trekking back and forth from Dallas-Forth Worth to Sebring during a hectic week of racing.

Sebring is heavy with WeatherTech Championship activity on Thursday with practice, qualifying, and a mandatory night practice to close the day. If the clash moves ahead, IndyCar teams, drivers, and personnel who work in both paddocks would need to fly to DFW after Sebring’s night practice to be ready for practice and qualifying on Friday at Texas, and then return to Sebring Friday night to be ready for the early Saturday morning start of the 12-hour race.

Known for its high heat and humidity, drivers tend to be cooked after the 12 Hour, but the IndyCar troop will need to make a quick turnaround and fly back to DFW for Sunday’s frenetic oval race in the early afternoon. With the Sebring exhaustion in mind, IndyCar drivers who aren’t involved in the date conflict will likely have a physical advantage over their travel- and race-weary rivals coming from Florida. For the sake of timing, IMSA revealed its 2022 calendar with its March Sebring event date on August 6.

While we don’t have the specific date, a late April open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be normal and would also help fill a short gap of inactivity following Long Beach. The site for Spring Training also awaits confirmation. Sebring’s short course is among the rumored options.

Along with the earlier start to the season, it is also scheduled to end sooner than we’ve seen since 2015, when the calendar closed on August 30 to avoid overlapping with the National Football League’s mid-September debut.

RACER’s projected IndyCar race dates for 2022

1: February 27 or March 6: St. Petersburg GP

2: March 20: Texas Motor Speedway

3: April 10: Long Beach GP

4: May 1, Barber Motorsports Park

5: May 14, Indianapolis GP

6: May 29, Indianapolis 500

7-8: June 5-6, Detroit GP Doubleheader

9: June 12, Road America

10: July 3, Mid-Ohio

11: July 17, Toronto GP

12-13: July 23-24, Iowa Doubleheader

14: July 30, Indianapolis GP 2 (Saturday event)

15: August 7, Nashville GP

16: August 20: World Wide Technologies Raceway (Saturday event)

17: September 4, Portland International Raceway

18: September 11, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca