The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule will remain at 15 races, INDYCAR officials said.
INDYCAR was exploring a potential replacement event after it announced June 13 that its inaugural race in China, scheduled for Aug. 19, had been canceled.
“After carefully considering all possible options for an additional race, we felt it was in our best interest to keep our schedule at its current 15-event lineup,” INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said. “We want to make sure that when we add events to our roster they have long-term potential and are given every opportunity to be successfully promoted. The more we explored, the more we felt like we were rushing what could be good, long-lasting opportunities for the sport.
“I thank all of the promoters who entertained the possibility of hosting the IZOD IndyCar Series this season. It certainly validated what we already knew – there’s a lot of interest from venues across North America in hosting our sport.”
Series entitlement sponsor IZOD, a Heritage Brand in the PVH Corp. portfolio, supports the decision to cap the 2102 schedule at 15 events.
“As the entitlement partner of the series, we agree that it is in the best interest of the series to focus on a long-term strategy for the future schedule instead of a quick fix for this year,” said Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President, The PVH Marketing Group.
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale will be held Sept. 15 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Officials announced today that the race distance will be extended to 500 miles. Auto Club Speedway last played host to a 500-mile Indy car race in 2002, which was won by Jimmy Vasser. Tony Kanaan started from the pole. GET TICKETS, INFO
“We wanted to do something special to enhance the excitement to the season finale and renew the tradition of 500-mile open-wheel races in Southern California,” Bernard said. “We think it’s something our fans will enjoy and adds another element to what is already shaping up to be an exciting championship battle.”
The race also will decide the A.J. Foyt Trophy, presented to the driver who scores the most points on ovals. Through the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 23, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kanaan are tied for the lead.
"Our fans had been asking for (a 500-mile race) because the IndyCar racing has been so good," Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker said. "It was also a perfect bookend to the Indianapolis 500."
Sam Hornish Jr. won the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in 2002 in finish that saw him beat Jaques Lazier across the finish line by 0.0281 of a second. Hornish set the track record for fastest average speed during a race at 207.151 mph, which still stands. The series continued to run at Auto Club Speedway through 2005.
Other 500-mile Indy car race winners at Auto Club Speedway:
1997 - Mark Blundell (165.575 mph average speed) ... Mauricio Gugelmin pole winner
1998 - Jimmy Vasser (153.785 mph average speed) ... Scott Pruett pole winner
1999 - Adrian Fernandez (171.666 mph average speed) ... Scott Pruett pole winner
2000 - Christian Fittipaldi (139.563 mph average speed) ... Gil de Ferran pole winner
It was in qualifying on Oct. 28, 2000, that de Ferran set the track record for fastest lap at 241.426 mph, which also was a world speed record for the fastest lap on a closed course.
500-mile races in Southern California started in 1970 at the 2.5-mile Ontario Motor Speedway oval. Jim McElreath won the inaugural California 500, followed by Joe Leonard, Roger McCluskey, Wally Dallenbach, Bobby Unser (1976, '79, '80), A.J. Foyt and Al Unser (1977-78).