IndyCar isn't going to China after all.
The series' inaugural race in Qingdao, China has been called off because of a beer festival conflict. Seriously.
Bernard had been working with promoters in Qingdao the last several months to salvage the race, which was announced last November to run at the same time as the International Beer Festival. The inaugural race would have been held on a temporary 3.87-mile street circuit in the city that hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics sailing competition.
Despite an existing contract, new leadership in local government balked at the IndyCar race. Discussions began with IndyCar about moving the event to a new date or new location.
Doubts had been swirling about the future of the Qingdao race, so the cancellation isn't too much of a surprise. As the series works out contract logistics with the Qingdao promoter, it's now looking for a replacement race.
"We wanted to give the China race every opportunity to move forward and be successful, but IndyCar has been notified by the promoter that the event is cancelled for 2012," Bernard said in a release. "We were informed that the promoter was trying to move the event to a different date and location. After ongoing discussions regarding alternative dates, as well as doing our due diligence in exploring alternate venues in China, the promoter cancelled the event. A decision had to be made to allow IndyCar and its participants to plan accordingly for the second half of the season."
Per the AP article, Pocono and Texas are being looked at as possibilities. The possibility of Texas is especially intriguing given the consternation that surrounded last weekend's race at TMS, the first high-banked oval race since Dan Wheldon's death. Before the race, one of the dominant storylines was if the series would return to Texas in 2013.
Previous Texas races had featured Talladega style racing with packs of 20 cars sometimes lined up nose-to-tail. On Saturday night that virtually disappeared, as the lack of downforce in the new chassis meant that after a few laps the cars were able to spread out a bit. Plus, tire fall-off meant that teams needed to perfect the balance on their cars, lest they wanted to lose a ton of speed throughout a fuel run. (Justin Wilson, Saturday's winner, made up a lot of ground during long green flag stints.) Apparently, those factors -- along with a safe race -- means that the track is in the discussion for the even nearer future.
Pocono last hosted a major open-wheel race in 1989, when Danny Sullivan won the last CART race at the track, so the IndyCar Series at the triangle wouldn't be that much of a stretch. And it'd be interesting to see how fast a lap at Pocono would be with the new pavement. In 1989, the pole-winning speed was 211 MPH.