Monday, April 4, 2016

Musings From the Weekend: S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!

IndyCar's return to Phoenix was good. Formula E wasn't the only series that had competitors switching machinery mid-race this weekend. A championship leader fell. Andrea Iannone took out his Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso when both were in position for podium finishes. An Irishman scored his best career finish. Two drivers won their first races with new teams this weekend. Someone had a grand slam. A few grandfather clocks were given away to the same person. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

I kind of brought it up last week but this past weekend wasn't the greatest for the Phoenix IndyCar race. The Final Four of NCAA Tournament took place simultaneously with the IndyCar race and it's not a great idea to go against one of the most popular events in American sports.

Phoenix International Raceway wanted to hold the IndyCar race on a Saturday night and I can't blame them. Everyone likes a night race and it probably drew more fans than a day race thanks to cooler temperatures. However, perhaps the event should move from this weekend in April to avoid going against the Final Four. Had Arizona made the Final Four, race attendance would have suffered. Had Indiana or Purdue or Butler made it, TV ratings would have suffered a big hit from what is IndyCar's biggest market. For both the track and the series, it would make sense to move away from the Final Four weekend.

But where could it move on the calendar? Phoenix can't be held during the summer and NASCAR races are held during the middle of March and early November. There was three weeks between this year's NASCAR race and the IndyCar race. The race can't simply move back a week because NASCAR typically runs at Texas the second weekend in April and that is a Saturday night race. IndyCar should avoid going head-to-head as much as possible, and NASCAR is on a Saturday night, IndyCar definitely shouldn't race on a Saturday night. Next year, Easter is April 16th. Racing on Easter weekend is never a good idea.

Another solution could be a date swap with Barber Motorsports Park. Barber is set for the final weekend of April but when it first was added to the IndyCar schedule in 2010 it was held in early-April, in fact the 2012 race was held on April 1st. NASCAR goes to Richmond the last weekend in April but NASCAR has moved that race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, which would allow for an IndyCar race Saturday night.

The ideal April 2017 schedule for IndyCar should be Barber on April 2nd and Long Beach on April 9th (the weekend NASCAR races Saturday night at Texas) with Phoenix on April 22nd. It would put the Phoenix IndyCar race six weeks after the Phoenix NASCAR race, which would get the race off Final Four weekend and could allow more fans to attend both the NASCAR and IndyCar race.

Hopefully Phoenix is on the IndyCar schedule for the rest of eternity but that can only happen with a more comfortable date and a better aero package, but that's another story.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Scott Dixon but did you know...

Nico Rosberg is two-for-two in the 2016 Formula One season after a victory at Bahrain.

Lucas di Grassi won the Long Beach ePrix and, unlike Mexico City, he wasn't disqualified afterward.

Marc Márquez won the MotoGP Argentine Grand Prix. Johann Zarco won in Moto2. Malaysian rookie Khairul Idham Pawi won in his second career Moto3 start.

Kyle Kaiser won the Indy Lights race at Phoenix, his first Indy Lights victory. He won from pole position, led every lap and scored fastest lap.

Kyle Busch swept the NASCAR weekend at Martinsville by winning the Truck race Saturday and Cup race Sunday.

Chaz Davies swept the World Superbike races at Aragón. Kenan Sufuoglu won in World Supersport.

Shane Van Gisbergen and Will Davison won the V8 Supercars races from Symmons Plains.

Rob Huff and José María López split the opening weekend of the WTCC season at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Ryan Dungey won the AMA Supercross race from Santa Clara.

Coming Up This Weekend
MotoGP makes its lone trip to the United States to Circuit of the Americas.
NASCAR will race at Texas on Saturday night.
The Blancpain Sprint Series opens its 2016 season from Misano.
Super GT begins its 2016 at Okayama.
AMA Supercross will be in Indianapolis.