Laguna Seca Returns as 2019 Finale

Sebastien Bourdais laps Barber Motorsports Park in Indy car
Sebastien Bourdais' open-wheel experience at Laguna Seca may come in handy when IndyCar returns in September 2019. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

A positive vote by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will bring WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca back to the IndyCar Series schedule beginning in 2019.

The first event within the three-year agreement will take place Sept. 20–22. As the final round of the 2019 season, that weekend will mark the return of Indy car racing to the 2.238-mile permanent road course near Monterey, California after it hosted top-level open-wheel events from 1983 to 2004.

A streak that lasted from 1989 to 1996 of Laguna Seca hosting the season finale will begin again next year as Sonoma Raceway steps aside as the host of the final race and any IndyCar race at all.

More than two decades of Indy car history at Laguna Seca include four consecutive victories for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal along with multiple wins for Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Bryan Herta and Patrick Carpentier.

Alex Zanardi’s storied pass on Herta through the Corkscrew turn to win the 1996 race is lauded as a highlight moment in IndyCar’s past. Two years earlier, Mario Andretti’s farewell drive marks another instance of generational history that will continue at Laguna Seca in September 2019 and beyond.

Given the competitive nature of IndyCar and the presence of double points for the finale, next year’s series champion will almost certainly be crowned at Laguna Seca to cap off the second year of action for the Dallara-built universal aero kit — another momentum-generating factor for the series.

After the 2018 season is concluded on Sept. 16, Sonoma will have hosted IndyCar’s finale for four consecutive seasons.

“I can’t imagine a more attractive destination location for INDYCAR’s season finale,” Hulman & Company President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Monterey is a place people want to be and we will bring all of our guests. I think it’s a great choice for us.”

With the Laguna Seca event situated one week later than the current Sonoma finale, there could be a long wait of three weeks between the final two races of 2019, should Portland International Raceway retain its position on the first weekend of September.

As INDYCAR’s exclusive television and digital media rights partner starting next year, the NBC Sports Group will carry live television coverage of the INDYCAR Monterey Grand Prix in just over 430 days.

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