Infineon Raceway to host Indy Racing Series
By Daily Republic wire services
SONOMA -- The Indy Racing League will break from its all-oval roots next year with its first road-course events since the open-wheel series started in 1996.
On Tuesday, the IRL released a 16-race schedule for 2005. Added were races on the road courses at the Infineon Raceway, on Aug. 28, and Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Sept. 25.
The IRL IndyCar Series will bring international open-wheel racing to the Sonoma Valley for the first time in 35 years.
"Even with all our facility improvements and the terrific range of events we host, there has remained one glaring hole on the Infineon Raceway schedule," Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway, said Wednesday. "This track will be an incredible venue for the IRL series, and we look forward to offering Northern California fans the widest variety of motor racing available anywhere."
Page added that discussions have already begun with several companies who have expressed interest in sponsorship of the event, which will take place the late-summer weekend of Aug. 26-28. Additional support series will be announced later.
The addition of the road courses to the IRL schedule follows the move of several teams - including Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Green Racing - in recent years from road-course dominant CART, now known as the Champ Car World Series.
"The addition of road courses will bring even more variety and challenges to IndyCar series drivers and teams," said Brian Barnhart, the IRL's senior vice president. "We are working closely with the teams and manufacturers to bring the same excitement of our oval events to road racing."
The IRL will use a modified version of the road course that will feature The Chute, which is used in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, as well as modified sections at Turn 9 and Turn 11.
Infineon will finish a minor run-off and barrier enhancements to suit the IRL. The IRL main event will be contested over a 10-turn, 1.77-mile road course. That will be the debut for the new version of the raceway.
"Infineon Raceway's debut on the IRL coincides with the IRL's 10th anniversary, and we are excited to return Indy-style racing to the Northern California region as it meets one of the IRL's primary goals to bring the series to new markets and fans," said Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president of business affairs. "Choosing Infineon Raceway was easy, as we discovered that fans in the region get our sport, follow our sport and support the series on television."
The last major open-wheel race at Infineon Raceway took place in 1970, when Dan Gurney won the USAC IndyCar 150. IRL race teams get their first official run at the road course during a test session later this year.
Fans can reserve tickets for the IRL 2005 event by calling Infineon Raceway at
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
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