FORT WORTH, Texas – Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and the rest of the IndyCar drivers were in sunny Florida around spring break ready to start the season.
“We geared up, we had the offseason, we had done all the preseason testing ... you kind of had all that pent-up tension to get going,” five-time IndyCar champion Dixon said this week.
Nearly three months later, they are finally set to run their first competitive laps of the season. Then they will wait another four weeks to race again.
“It’s all not gone according to plan by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think anyone saw this coming and really no one had a contingency plan for it, because why would you,” Rossi said Tuesday. “But ultimately I think the series has done everything right so far, and it’s an impossible situation."
Instead of the streets of St. Pete, the pandemic-delayed season will get started at the fast 1 1/2-mile track in Texas with an all-in-one-day opener. Practice, qualifying and the 200-lap race will be held Saturday, the same day that IndyCar has chartered planes to carry teams back and forth between Indianapolis and Texas Motor Speedway.
“I think the new normal is nothing is normal. Going forward, we’re trying to make it as normal as we can,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said.
“It’s going to be a new world for us racing here. Showing up for a one-day show, different than what we used to do at Texas,” said Josef Newgarden, who won there last June. “This sort of lag time between some events is very different. Haven’t been in the car in three months, now kind of getting to Texas. ... We’ve got to make the most of it.”
IndyCar will have some time to evaluate things after Texas. There will be nearly a month before the next race July 4 at Indianapolis, on the road course and not the Indy 500 that will now be run Aug. 23.