IndyCar finally announced its 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series calendar on Thursday of this week.

Fifteen races are included and IndyCar’s CEO Randy Bernard (below with 2012 car) says he’s still working on adding one or two more races.

indycar  IndyCar announces 2012 calendar

Gone from next year’s calendar are oval races at Milwaukee, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Twin-Ring Motegi and Las Vegas. Those returning include a street circuit on Belle Isle Park in Detroit and the 2.0-mile California Speedway oval, both of which have tried before with CART and IRL without much success. IndyCar’s 2012 calendar includes eight street or temporary circuits, three road courses and only four ovals – fewer than ever.

The California Speedway will conclude IndyCar’s 2012 season with a Saturday night race. New to IndyCar in 2012 is a previously reported street race in Qingdao, China in August. The race in Detroit will be promoted by Roger Penske as it was during its last iteration in 2007 and ‘08 and defending champion team owner Chip Ganassi believes Penske will make it successful this time around.

indycar  IndyCar announces 2012 calendar

“Detroit has always been a good market for us and being around Detroit with everything it has to do with the car businesss is important,” Ganassi said. “But I think more importantly we have a promoter there who’s friendly with the sanctioning body and I think that makes a better marriage when you have that. It says a lot of the kind of leadership that Roger shows.”

Ganassi is less impressed with racing in China. “I think our sponsors, or at least Target, has always felt that one race off-shore whether it’s in Japan or China is fine,” Ganassi commented. “It adds a bit of cachet. But I don’t think we need to get into having four or five races outside North America. I have to say I would think that’s going to start having a detrimental effect on the series.

“I’m not sure I’d be in favour of a lot races outside North America – the US, Canada and Mexico – for our series. There are so many venues here in the United States that I think we could make a success of, that would be a lot easier, and better for us than traveling halfway around the world.”

Ganassi also briefly discussed IndyCar boss Randy Bernard’s first two years on the job. “There are a lot of facets to this sport that somebody coming in from the outside has to learn and no one’s been a more willing learner than Randy Bernard,” Chip observed. “Look at the things that have gone on since he came into the sport. We had a new car and a new engine formula and rules package and a new way of buying and distributing the cars and undertaking the testing. And obviously, there was the Las Vegas tragedy.

“Just about every time the guy comes up for air he gets pushed back under the water again. The good news is Randy has shown great ability to breathe under water. So I think he’s doing fine.”

2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule:

March 25        St. Petersburg, Fla. (street course)
April 1             Birmingham, Ala. (road course)
April 15           Long Beach, Calif. (street course)
April 29           Sao Paulo, Brazil (street course)
May 27           Indianapolis 500, In. (oval)
June 3            Detroit, Mich. (street course)
June 9            Fort Worth, Texas (oval)
June 23          Newton, Iowa (oval)
July 8             Toronto, Ontario (street course)
July 22           Edmonton, Alberta (airport course)
Aug. 5            Lexington, Ohio (road course)
Aug. 19          Qingdao, China (street course)
Aug. 26          Sonoma, Calif. (road course)
Sept. 2           Baltimore, Md. (street course)
Sept. 15         Fontana, Calif. (oval)