The IndyCar season will open on Saturday, June 6, with the running of the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, according to a Thursday announcement from the NTT IndyCar Series and the track.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has delayed the traditional start of the IndyCar season—not to mention the marquee Indianapolis 500—the Texas event will be a one-day show, with practice, qualifying and the race all held on June 6 with no fans in the grandstands.
To accommodate the condensed schedule, the race has been shortened from 248 laps to 200 laps (300 miles).
"We're excited and ready to kick off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at Texas Motor Speedway," said IndyCar president Jay Frye.
"We've worked closely with (TMS president) Eddie Gossage, the entire TMS team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”
Hosting the IndyCar opener was welcome news to Gossage.
"America needs live sports, and they are not going to believe what they see when the Genesys 300 storms into their living rooms on TV from Texas," Gossage said.
"One of the world's greatest sporting events, the Indy 500, has been postponed until August by coronavirus, so all of that pent-up energy, anticipation, frustration, and anxiety will be pounding through the drivers' nervous systems. Typically, the Genesys 300 results in a 220-mph photo finish."
On his way to a second series title, Josef Newgarden won last year’s Texas race by .816 seconds over Alexander Rossi.
To protect the health and safety of competitors, race teams and track personnel, TMS will adopt the following protocols for the race:
Strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on-site;
A health screening system administered to all participants;
PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage;
Social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained;
Revised competition layout to increase social distancing.
After the announcement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Gossage released the following joint statement:
"Racing is part of Texas culture, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to bring back this tremendous experience to the people of Texas and to all Americans. Public health remains our top priority, and the protocols for this race have been developed with the guidance of public health officials.
“The American people are eager to watch their favorite live sports again, and this race serves as an example of how we can responsibly hold sporting events while prioritizing the health of the participants and the public. While we know that many Texans are ready to attend races in person, this plan provides a solution that enables Americans to enjoy this tradition from the comfort and safety of their homes as our nation responds to COVID-19.
“We are thankful for the partnership with IndyCar and proud that Texas is at the forefront of opening these cultural and entertainment experiences to all Americans."
The updated 14-race IndyCar schedule announced on April 6 remains intact for the remainder of the 2020 season.