IRL: IndyCar defines new rules

The Indy Racing League has a point to make. Several points, in fact. To give all teams and drivers additional scoring opportunities, the League has adjusted its scoring system for the 2004 IndyCar Series season.

Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
At the same time the League has also announced minor technical changes that are being introduced for three reasons: to further contain costs, level the playing field and increase the safety of IndyCar Series cars.

The points system modification announced today will give cars and entrants finishing 19th through 33rd additional points, as well as awards for the IndyCar Series driver leading the most laps in the 16 events the series will contest from February through October.

Beginning at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 29th, each car finishing 19th to 24th will receive 12 points, while finishers from 25th to 33rd gain 10 points for their efforts. In the past, a car finishing 19th earned 11 points, with each successive finishing position allocated one less point. Drivers finishing 29th or lower received a single point.

"There were two major reasons for adjusting the championship scoring system," explained Brian Barnhart, the League's senior vice president of racing operations. "We felt the points awarded for positions 29-33 was too low, particularly if it involved a full-time IndyCar Series team.

"Second, by adjusting the points for positions 19-24, teams who had suffered car damage would not feel compelled to get back on the track and run for points. This," Barnhart noted, "like the other technical changes announced today, will make our sport safer for the driver."

Heading the list of technical changes are revisions concerning components supplied by the Indy Racing League to competitors. Henceforth competitors may not modify certain items. These items include - but are not limited to - ear pieces, attenuators, wickerbills, timing transponders, wiring harnesses, impact recorders, rev limiters, track condition radios, camera mounts and cover and head surrounds and their fasteners.

In addition, at all tracks longer than one mile - excluding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the IRL will supply identical vertical wickers for mandatory use by all participating teams, the bulletin released today stated. The wickers, which will be attached to the rear-most outer edge of the rear wing, are designed to curtain speeds at these venues.

The League earlier modified air box specifications for the first three races of the 16-event campaign. All airboxes must have a defined entry and exit and must have a slot of 12 inches in length and be three inches wide. This slot must be located 284.2mm from the front face of the engine.

Fuel-cell capacity has been reduced from 35 gallons to 30 gallons maximum for the 2004 season, and the amount of methanol teams may have in their trackside tanks has changed accordingly. Teams may carry 97 gallons for 200-mile events, 108 gallons for 225-mile races, 145 gallons for competition of 300 miles duration, 195 gallons for a 400-mile contest and a total of 245 gallons for 500-mile events, for each entry in said event.

There are 19 IndyCar Series teams and drivers set to be on hand for the second of two open tests here at Phoenix International Raceway. The Indy cars will take to the reconfigured one-mile oval tomorrow and Thursday, practicing for two sessions each day. The ninth year of IRL competition begins the weekend of February 27-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the League's initial open test held January 28-29.