A totally vaccinated Roger Penske is difficult at work at Indianapolis Motor Speedway making ready for a full season of racing that can embrace spectators at his showcase occasion.
There will probably be followers at this yr’s Indianapolis 500, Penske stated Monday, however what number of stays a transferring goal primarily based on COVID-19 restrictions. Greater than 170,000 tickets have already got been offered for the Might 30 race, he stated.
His first Indy 500 as proprietor of the historic property was held in entrance of empty grandstands final yr.
“We’re not making any predictions in any respect as a result of something I might say at present may very well be utterly fallacious,” Penske stated. “Our purpose is to have 250,000. I imply, that’s what we need to have. It’s outdoors. We’ve acquired the most important stadium on the planet right here and it’s a matter of the place we’re going to be with the CDC and the governor and the mayor, so I don’t have any quantity that I’d need to dangle my hat on.”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway boasts about 250,000 everlasting seats with further area in suites, hospitality areas and an infield that each one mixed can accommodate at the very least 400,000 spectators on race day. Penske spent $15 million on upgrades to IMS after closing on his $300 million buy of the property in January 2020, two months earlier than the pandemic upended his debut as proprietor.
The speedway has hosted vaccination occasions that Penske, 84 and inoculated — “I hit the highest age bracket, in order that’s one time the age labored out,” he joked — believes will bolster attendance choices for the Indy 500.
“We did 16,000 in three days and we’re on the point of do a mass vaccination in April,” he stated. “We haven’t labored out the small print but with the state, however we expect there’s a chance to make a huge impact right here, the place we may give again to the neighborhood.
“With the scale of our facility and what we have been capable of accomplish simply in three days, we expect we are able to actually assist this complete space right here — town of Indianapolis and the encircling counties.”
Penske additionally believes IndyCar can have spectators in any respect 17 races on its calendar.
There have been slight schedule modifications already, with the Grand Prix of Lengthy Seashore transferring from April to September due to restrictions in California, and the season opens April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park at Atlanta. Barber, St. Pete and Texas Motor Speedway, the primary three occasions on the schedule, all have tickets on the market.
Different matters addressed Monday, the day after Ryan Blaney gave Workforce Penske its first NASCAR Cup Sequence win of the season:
Brad Keselowski in NASCAR and Will Energy and Simon Pagenaud from IndyCar are all in contract years, however Penske stated early talks on extensions have began. All three have gained sequence championships for Penske, and Energy and Pagenaud are each Indy 500 winners.
“We’re in dialogue with all of them,” Penske stated. “With COVID we haven’t been capable of get collectively, however we’ve had conversations with Brad earlier than. I believe we’re transferring in the suitable path. There’s no cause we wouldn’t renew, for certain.”
NASCAR didn’t allow group homeowners to enter the storage due to the pandemic, so in the event that they attended, they needed to watch from a set on the opposite facet of the monitor. IndyCar did grant entry final yr, and NASCAR this season has opened one roster spot inside its bubble for every group. Penske stated he attended the Daytona 500 and the race at Las Vegas however has but to enter the storage.
“In each circumstances I both needed to make the choice to be down within the storage on the field, or be up within the suite, the place we had a few of our sponsors, so I elected to do this,” he stated. “Possibly I’ve been within the fallacious bubble, however that’s been my standing to this point for the primary six races.”
THE DAYTONA 500 DISASTER
Workforce Penske was in place to win the Daytona 500 in February with Keselowski and Joey Logano working 1-2 on the ultimate lap. Logano tried to dam Keselowski’s move for the win and it triggered a multicar crash that additionally collected Austin Cindric in a 3rd Penske automotive.
He stated he is had conversations with all of the Penske drivers and a plan will probably be made earlier than the sequence races at Talladega Superspeedway, which has comparable circumstances to Daytona.
“I’m going to sit down down with them face-to-face, all of them, earlier than Talladega so we’re all working on the identical web page,” he stated. “I believe we simply should make an settlement on simply precisely the way you need to play ball if you happen to get into that very same state of affairs as we had with two of us working in addition to we had with a half-mile to go, after which find yourself with three vehicles within the trash bucket.”
The IndyCar tv contract with NBC expires on the finish of this season and the community is getting rid of its NBC Sports activities channel that hosts a lot of the sequence’s content material.
NBC stated earlier Monday it was transferring a few of its NASCAR content material to its Peacock streaming service, however Penske acknowledged he is “not likely an professional” on streaming choices. He would not focus on the place IndyCar may land in 2022.
“We actually need to have a broadcast associate as we go into the longer term, and if that entails streaming and different facets of what is likely to be out there, we’re all of these,” he stated.
Extra AP NASCAR: https://apnews.com/NASCAR and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports activities