ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
With Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday that he is canceling plans to be the pace car driver at the Indianapolis 500 later this month, he offered his clearest indication yet of his timeline for a presidential announcement.
According to a statement from representatives for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Trump informed officials there “that he may be announcing shortly his intention to run for the office of President of the United States, and therefore he thought it would be inappropriate to drive the Pace Car for the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29.”
Trump has previously said he would use the season finale of “The Celebrity Apprentice” on Sunday May 22 to reveal the time and place of an announcement that he will — or will not — jump into the Republican nominating contest.
As Trump adviser and special counsel, Michael Cohen, told ABC News, “due to FEC rules and regulations, Mr. Trump cannot make his decision until his hit television show aired its finale.” Trump has also vowed to make his decision public prior to June.
Given those constraints Trump’s announcement could come just days after this season’s final broadcast of his reality television show and will also likely be held at one of Trump’s properties in New York City.
And it appears increasingly likely that Trump is gearing up for a run.
Just yesterday, a South Carolina Tea Party group announced Trump would be heading a rally in the state capitol, Columbia, on May 19. In less than one week he plans to speak to the Chamber of Commerce in Nashua, NH. And he has additional trips planned to New Hampshire and Iowa in June.
He made a splash during a day-long visit to New Hampshire last week, followed by a rowdy speech in Las Vegas. He has also been meeting with potential campaign advisers.
Trump, however, will not be on hand for the Indy 500, despite having signed on earlier this month. His appearance also drew oppositon from a Facebook group — more than 17,000 people strong — called "We Don't Want Donald Trump to Drive the Indy 500 Pace Car."
On it's Facebook page the group took issue with Trump's past calls for President Obama to release his birth certificate, which the White House did last week on the same day that Trump visited New Hampshire.
"With few exceptions, the honor of driving the pace car has been reserved for those involved with motor sports or those who have become national heroes," according to a statement on the group's site. "Trump, on the other hand, is primarily a businessman whose principal businesses are self-promotion and gambling."
For his part, Trump said on Thursday that while he appreciated the honor of driving the pace car, "time and business constraints make my appearance there, especially with the necessary practice sessions, impossible to fulfill. I look forward to watching the race from New York.”