IndyCar pushes St. Petersburg race to April; Barber to serve as season opener

IndyCar has moved what was supposed to be its season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, to April 25.

The race through the downtown city streets had been scheduled to start the new season for a 10th consecutive year on March 7.

IndyCar's season opener will now be held at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on April 11.

The switch gives St. Petersburg promoters hope that more spectators will be permitted to attend the popular street festival as pandemic restrictions loosen.

IndyCar previously rescheduled the Grand Prix of Long Beach from April until September because of restrictions in California. That move opened room on the schedule for St. Pete to request a later race date.

"It's not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic," said Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles, adding that April 25 is "a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC network television."

IndyCar was in St. Petersburg last March preparing to open its season when sports shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The season ultimately did not start until June, and St. Petersburg was moved to October as the finale.