Interview

NTT IndyCar Series Officials Sees Areas to Improve, but Excelling Despite COVID-19 Implications

By: Ashley McCubbin

Last year in March, every sport was brought to an absolute stop as a result of COVID-19. Through slowly in the months that followed, each one was able to get back on schedule, as much as normal.

Despite everything thrown their way, the NTT IndyCar Series managed to put together a 14-race schedule, with thrilling events across the United States along the way. While most events saw fan attendance restricted, television partners ensured the product was brought into their homes, allowing them to witness Scott Dixon’s early season domination, to Josef Newgarden coming within 15-points of the championship.

 “I think strategy is a commodity and execution is an art, right. So I think as a series and the teams in the paddock, everybody executed at a high very level to get the season in,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “There was lots of little things you look back on that we could have done differently or we would have tried differently, but that’s any season. Every year we go back into something we review what we did, how we could do it better going forward. Overall, just a great paddock-wide effort.”

As with any thing in life, time to reflect and think about each action along the way offers thoughts on what worked, and what could’ve been done better.

“I can nominate a couple things,” President and CEO of the Penske Entertainment Corporation Mark Miles admitted. “The earliest days when we had to cancel a couple races and we didn’t know how much flexibility we’d need going forward. We eventually got to the iRacing idea and the opportunity, and I think we probably could have done more early on had we been able to anticipate. I think it was terrific that it happened. It filled a gap to some extent. But maybe we could have even done more with that and the promotion of it.

“Otherwise I’m pretty satisfied with the way it was all handled. I mean, I’m sure there are things we could have communicated better along the way, but Roger Penske’s leadership was really important. He helped the teams, especially in the early days. He helped the tracks that were having to live with venue restrictions.

“All in all, I think it was a very successful kind of persevering effort.”

The success they were able to experience has spread into 2021, with the excitement surrounding the new street course event in Nashville, as well as the rookie class which sees three star quality drivers from other disciplines – V8 SuperCar Champion Scott McLaughlin, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, and long-time Formula 1 competitor Romain Grosjean.

“We’ve got great promotional partners,” Frye commented. “We’ve got great race teams. We’ve got great drivers. The depth of the field is spectacular. There’s lots of things that are adding up to a very successful launch to the 2021 season, and we couldn’t be more excited to get started.”

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