Video interview: IndyCar CEO Mark Miles on the 2019 schedule, Scott Dixon and more

Check IndyCar CEO Mark Miles’ travel schedule and it appears this is a man who doesn’t have an offseason. Although the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season ended with Scott Dixon celebrating his fifth championship at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 16, Miles continues to spend much time on the road trying to move IndyCar forward.

Miles has been to Europe, negotiating deals for IndyCar’s international television rights. He has also traveled extensively in the United States, talking to prospective sponsors for the series.

And he’s involved in helping lure a third engine manufacturer to IndyCar, joining Honda and Chevrolet on the racetrack in the future.

“We’ve got plenty to do, but we think 2018 was really excellent,” Miles told Autoweek.

One of the major reasons for that excellence was 38-year-old Scott Dixon winning his fifth Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2018.

“If you were going to make a movie and you called central casting and said, ‘Send me the prototypical legendary race car driver,’ Scott Dixon would show up,” Miles said. “He is superb as a competitor. He is hard-nosed and never gives up, but he’s a sportsman at the same time and is respected by all of his fellow drivers. He is great away from the races and race weekends; he always does what he can to promote the series and does that very ably. He is just outstanding.

“This movie ('Born Racer') will capture the attention of lots of Scott Dixon fans, lots of folks in New Zealand and lots of people in the United States. Scott deserves it, and we hope he is along for many more years to add to that legacy.”

With five Verizon IndyCar Series championships, only the legendary A.J. Foyt has more with seven. Not yet 40, he still has lots of great racing left, but the Verizon IndyCar Series also has some tremendous young talent. At the top of that list is 27-year-old Josef Newgarden, the 2017 IndyCar Series champion, and 26-year-old Alexander Rossi, the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016.

“One other thing about this year is a great combination of veterans like Scott, but also young guys coming in like Alexander Rossi,” Miles said. “We still think of him as a young guy challenging for the top of the grid. Now we know of a couple of young guys who will be joining us next year who will be really exciting.

“He seems to be able to give us a race within the race every time. He is obviously a very talented, aggressive driver with a great team that you can never count out. We just love him. He is the same, consistent, hard-nosed competitor that will be a story of the race, and the fans find a lot to like in that.”

Miles is also responsible for putting the schedule together. He prefers to keep future schedules at 17 races instead of expanding the season. When Laguna Seca returned to the schedule, it replaced Sonoma Raceway as the season finale. Sonoma Raceway president Steve Page and Speedway Motorsports Inc. passed on another date earlier in the season. 

The big change for 2019 is ISM Raceway near Phoenix being dropped from the schedule after a three-year return, replaced by the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.

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