On account of ongoing considerations surrounding the pandemic, IndyCar will be running condensed weekend schedules at many of the events on the 2021 schedule.
This includes next weekend’s season opener at Barber Motorsports Park, which will have practice and qualifying on Saturday followed by the 90-lap feature on Sunday afternoon.
A couple weeks later for the double-header weekend from Texas Motor Speedway, once again all the on-track sessions will be condensed into just two days, giving the drivers precious little time to get acquainted with the track.
Team Penske veteran Simon Pagenaud is not worried, however, and is actually relishing the upcoming condensed weekends.
The 2016 series champion has made it known that he loves the extra challenge and feels the more demanding schedule can help separate him from his rivals.
“I’m super excited about this format, quite frankly,” said Pagenaud. “Right now I think we have a very good outlook on everything.
“The big advantage is this year we knew that the schedule was going to change. That really helped my team and myself to prepare and understand how the weekend was going to roll.
“At the end of the day, it’s about knowing how to tackle each practice, qualifying, and then the race.
“We have a two-day weekend in Barber, St. Pete is different with a three-day weekend, and Texas is two races.
“The next four races are back to back, and it’s going to be intense. I know we are ready, and I can’t wait to get going!”
Pagenaud also noted that with Team Penske growing from three to four cars this year due to the addition of Scott McLaughlin, there is more opportunity to find the best setup with limited track time.
Not all events will be run with a two-day schedule, with events such as St. Petersburg having a more traditional three-day format planned.
There are many factors that determine the format for each weekend event, but the presence of support series and the extent of in-person fan experiences available are large factors in the decision.
Pagenaud and the rest of the field will get their first taste of 2021 action this weekend on Sunday, April 18 when they head to Birmingham, Alabama for the first of a 17-round schedule.