Phoenix IndyCar date to change in 2017 (Update)

UPDATE The Verizon IndyCar Series has work to do before it returns to Phoenix International Raceway, but make no mistake about it: IndyCar will be returning to this fabulous short track in the desert.

Who says? PIR president Bryan Sperber.

Standing a few feet from where race winner Scott Dixon was being honored in victory lane, Sperber said open-wheel racing’s first race here since 2005 was a success. And best of all, it exceeded expectations.

Sperber said he would have been satisfied with a crowd numbering in the 13,000-to-15,000 range.

“An NBA crowd," he said. “We would have been really thrilled with that."

PIR got more than that, “vastly more than that," Sperber said.

His estimate: "20,000."

With entire sections of grandstands closed, the race was lucky if it had 15,000 in attendance
With entire sections of grandstands closed, the race was lucky if it had 15,000 in attendance


At the end of 11 sometimes contentious, sometimes ridiculous, years wrangling with previous leadership of the Verizon IndyCar Series, Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber said he was on "cloud 9" after Saturday night's intense 250-lap Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix that attracted a crowd estimated just shy of 20,000 (if you count the lizards, workers, team members and flies).

It was successful enough to all-but ensure the series will be back at the Avondale oval in 2017, but likely will drop to late April, possibly Saturday night, April 29. That's because the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four will be at University of Phoenix Stadium early in the month, and Easter next year is April 16.

"This whole weekend was incredible," Sperber said as he watched Scott Dixon celebrate in victory lane. "To be part of something like this is an amazing experience for Phoenix Raceway and I hope the fans had fun watching this amazing racing."

Pole winner and early leader Helio Castroneves, despite his disappointing 11th place finish, described his racing experience as "great. Just going around that fast, I hope the fans had a great time."

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