INDIANAPOLIS — The start of the upcoming IndyCar season is being pushed back a week, the series announced Friday.
The first race of the 2021 season, the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, will now take place Sunday, April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The opener was originally scheduled for April 11.
IndyCar will now open the 2021 slate with four races in 15 days over the first three weekends of the season. After the opener will be the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 25 and a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway May 1-2.
Penske Entertainment Corporation President and CEO Mark Miles said the schedule change is due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will provide for a "powerful start" to the season.
“With six of our first eight races on network television and all in a more compact timeline, it’s an enormous opportunity to drive even more momentum as we deliver our exciting brand of racing to our fans," Miles said.
Indy 500: Takuma Sato celebrates second Indy 500 win
After a weekend off, the series will race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 15. The 105th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 30, 2021.
Teams will return to Indianapolis August 14 for another race on the IMS road course.
NBC will broadcast the first two races of the season and six of the first eight. A record nine IndyCar races will air on NBC.
Seventeen races are currently scheduled to make up the 2021 IndyCar season. Click here to view the full schedule.