IMSA is looking at “all schedule options” for the 2023 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season according to series president John Doonan, who has not ruled out the addition of an endurance race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The development comes following Doonan’s comments last month indicating that a fifth Michelin Endurance Cup round would not be be possible “at the moment.”
However, IMS owner Roger Penske indicated that he remains in talks with IMSA on a potential event for next year.
Penske told reporters at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa earlier this month that the proposed IMSA race “must” be an endurance race — believed to be at least six hours in length.
Sportscar365 understands that both organizations are currently in advanced negotiations, with Indy likely to replace one or even two existing events on the WeatherTech Championship schedule.
“We’re looking at all schedule options for next year,” Doonan told Sportscar365.
“It’s public; we’ve had conversations with Indianapolis. We’re still looking at that but we’re very sensitive to the running budget for the teams.
“Adding more hours — no matter what facility it’s at — adds more expense. We’re trying to be smart and remain cost-effective.”
Doonan said that dropping the WeatherTech Championship schedule from 12 to 11 events in total to maintain a similar run time for competitors is a “scenario that could be on the table.”
Such a move would see two existing rounds being eliminated for the likely Indy enduro, which has been rumored to feature a unique race length, potentially for marketing purposes.
“I think that’s one scenario; I think the teams look at their expense by running time,” Doonan said.
“We have existing sanction agreements with x number of tracks and we need to be sensitive to those agreements first and where else we could go.”
It’s unclear if a deal could be announced prior to IMSA’s annual ‘State of the Sport’ address at Road America in August where it typically confirms the following year’s schedule.
Should Indy be added to the schedule, it would come as a fifth Endurance Cup round, with all four of the existing venues, including the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, serving as a “pillar” for the series.
Doonan said the six-hour enduro at Watkins Glen International, a track that is owned by NASCAR, has a long-term future, as does the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans.
“I would say that is the case,” he said. “[Watkins Glen] is a great facility and a huge tradition there for IMSA for years.
“What the team has done there… Joe Sahlen has supported it for so many years. That’s a pillar part of our championship.”
The Indianapolis road course featured on the 2014 WeatherTech Championship schedule but was dropped amid a calendar reshuffle that included the addition of Lime Rock Park as a GT-only event.