Birmingham motorsports legend Roger Penske would throw his considerable support behind an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in September — should MIS and IndyCar agree to a deal — according to one of his top aides.
On Monday, MIS president Roger Curtis said he was willing to undertake further talks with the Indianapolis-based open-wheel organization about returning to the Irish Hills.
Curtis confirmed with the Free Press on Monday that an IndyCar official had phoned him Saturday at MIS to discuss a replacement race, which is needed after IndyCar canceled its Aug. 19 event in China.
With MIS hosting the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR weekend Aug. 17-19, the IndyCar event would have to be moved to September at Michigan, quite possibly making it a season-finale race.
Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp. and event chairman of the ChevroletDetroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, said Tuesday: “Michigan and the Midwest are great supporters of open-wheel racing and the IZOD IndyCar Series. This is evident by the sellout crowd that we had (at Belle Isle).
“From a Team Penske and Detroit Grand Prix perspective, we would love to see an IndyCar race at MIS this fall and would certainly support such an effort. I am confident Roger Curtis and his team would provide a terrific experience for the fans.”
Penske, a former owner of MIS, fields drivers Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe in the IndyCar Series.
In its day, MIS arguably was the most exciting and competitive race on the CART and IndyCar schedules before the race was abandoned after 2006 because of declining attendance.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard was traveling, according to a series spokesman, and wasn’t available for comment.
Tire test: MIS will conduct another tire test on its super-fast, repaved 2-mile oval in preparation for its Aug. 19 Sprint Cup race. Curtis said series tire supplier Goodyear and NASCAR were working on a date, which could come this month.
Curtis said he would welcome the test if it can help overcome the blistering effect on the tires at MIS last weekend, when Goodyear replaced left-side tires on Sprint Cup cars after record speeds were reached in practice and qualifying.
“I was talking to Robin Pemberton (NASCAR vice president of Competition and Racing Development), and we are very close on the tires,” Curtis said. “Goodyear is really close. They are the unsung heroes in our sport. We just need to take time for another test before the August race.”