Two new venues and a road course season finale are the main features of the 2015 IndyCar Series schedule, released on Thursday, but a mooted Middle East race is absent.
As previously reported, the 2015 season will open with the series' first visit to Autodromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in Brasilia on March 8 before moving to the United States for the first domestic race of the year on the streets of St Petersburg three weeks later.
The third date on the calendar is reserved for the other new venue, NOLA, which will host the series in mid-April. The long-rumoured Dubai event, which series officials had earmarked for February, has been left off the schedule.
Leading the list of notable date changes for already-established events is the selection of Sonoma to take over from Fontana as host of the curtain-closer on August 30, marking the first time that US open-wheelers have finished the year on a road course since Champ Car closed its 2007 season at Mexico City.
A finale at Sonoma also means that if the championship goes down to the wire, the title-decider will take place during the day.
Ratings for this year's night-time contest at Fontana were disappointing, with much of the blame being put on the race finishing in the early hours of the morning for viewers on the east coast of the US.
The series will now visit Fontana in late June, when the two-mile superspeedway will kick off a hat-trick of oval events that will also encompass Milwaukee and Iowa.
Detroit stands as the only double-header, with Houston having dropped off the calendar and Toronto having been cut to one race and given a new date in mid-June to avoid clashing with the Pan American Games.
Meanwhile, Pocono's return has been confirmed, the tri-oval dropping its difficult July 4th weekend slot in favour of hosting the penultimate round of the championship.
As with this year, the overriding theme of the calendar is 'compact': the 17 races will be compressed into six months.
Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar parent company Hulman & Co, said that the schedule is a natural development of the plans that were put into place at the start of this year.
"The IndyCar Series calendar represents another step forward in our strategy to grow the series," he said.
"There were several factors that led to the positive momentum we experienced in 2014 and we will continue to execute on those initiatives - continuity in our broadcast schedule, strategic growth of our schedule and improvements to how we promote our events.
"The continued support from our television partners at ABC and NBCSN, and the ongoing collaboration with promoters, teams and sponsor partners gives us a lot of confidence about our future."
Despite the ratings slump for this year's finale, IndyCar enjoyed an overall increase of around 34 per cent for its races broadcast on NBCSN in 2014 compared to the previous year, and a 14 per cent year-on-year increase for events that were broadcast on ABC.
2015 IndyCar schedule
March 8 Brasilia March 29 St Petersburg April 12 NOLA April 19 Long Beach April 26 Barber May 9 Indianapolis road course May 16-17 Indianapolis 500 qualifying May 24 Indianapolis 500 May 30 Detroit May 31 Detroit June 6 Texas June 14 Toronto June 27 Fontana July 12 Milwaukee July 18 Iowa August 2 Mid-Ohio August 23 Pocono August 30 Sonoma
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