The NTT IndyCar series announced today that the season opener from Barber Motorsports Park will be delayed one week, and is now scheduled to be run on April 18.
Unlike the other schedule changes made over the past year, this change was made primarily to provide TV coverage to a wider audience.
The Masters Tournament concludes on the weekend of April 11, and the first major golf championship of 2021 will dominate the over-the-air NBC airwaves throughout the day on Sunday.
With the race being moved to the following weekend, NBC will have a timeslot available to show the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama on a network that’s more widely available than their NBCSN cable channel.
“The schedule changes we’ve had, while partially prompted by ongoing pandemic conditions, give us a powerful start to the 2021 season,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said.
“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.”
Earlier this month, the series announced this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be pushed back seven weeks from its original date, promoting Barber to the opening round of the season for the first time.
There was no IndyCar race run on the 2.38-mile road course last season due to the heavily-adapted schedule, the first time since 2009 it was not part of the championship.
No further changes to the 2021 schedule are expected at this time, but IndyCar is keeping a close eye on the ever-changing pandemic situation and is open to making further adjustments if necessary.
The full 2021 IndyCar calendar can be viewed here.