(via WISH) — IndyCar reversed course Friday and told its drivers to pack up 48 hours ahead of the Firestone Grand Prix at St. Petersburg.
The move signaled the final domino to fall across in-season American professional sports leagues opting for a hiatus due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Friday afternoon on a conference call from Florida, IndyCar President Mark Miles cited Disney closing its doors and the PGA Tour also suspending play as two major factors that pushed the series in the same direction.
"Roger Penske and I had a call with all our team owners about 30 minutes ago," Miles said. "Same thing. Obviously, they want to race and we want to race. We really hate that we can't give our fans what they want right now. But there's a very strong sense of cohesion inside the IndyCar paddock we're doing the right things. We're doing what we have to do right now."
As drivers and teams continued to pack up their haulers Friday evening, six-time IndyCar winner Graham Rahal joined News 8 for a remote interview to discuss the decision to halt races until the Indy Grand Prix on May 9.
"To go from expecting to race this weekend to waking up and hearing the rumors and rumblings that this may not happen at all — obviously we support the series and the division and the partners and everyone else that made the decision to cancel until the Grand Prix on May 9," Rahal said. "Clearly as a competitor you want to be out there, but this is something nationally and internationally that we want to monitor. We are a series that is very international as well, not only from a fan perspective, but for competitors. We need to be careful."
Miles and IndyCar were adamant Friday that the goal now becomes putting on the best show possible during the month of May, leading up to the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.