INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2004 -- A minor modification to the IRL IndyCar® Series point system highlights several rule changes announced by the Indy Racing League for the 2004 season.
The change to the championship scoring system increases the amount of points scored by cars and entrants finishing 19th through 33rd in an IndyCar Series event, as well as the bonus earned by the driver leading the most laps.
Each car finishing from 19th to 24th place will receive 12 points, while each car finishing 25th through 33rd will receive 10 points. Previously, a car finishing 19th would receive 11 points, with each successive position receiving one less point. Drivers finishing 29th or lower each earned a single point.
The driver who leads the most laps also will receive an additional point, with the bonus increasing to three points for 2004. A race winner may earn a maximum of 53 points. Several technical changes have been made in an effort to further contain costs, level the playing field and increase the safety of IndyCar® Series cars. The changes include:
* Components supplied by the IRL or an approved manufacturer be used as-is. The rule applies but is not limited to ear pieces, attenuators, wickerbills, timing transponders, wiring harnesses, impact recorders, rev limiters, track condition radios, camera mounts and covers and head surrounds and fasteners.
* At all tracks more than a mile long, excluding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IRL will supply identical vertical wickers for mandatory use by all participating teams. The wickers, which will be attached to the rear-most outer edge of the rear wing, are designed to curtail speeds at these tracks.
* Air box specifications have been modified for the first three races of the season. All airboxes must have a defined entry and exit and must have a slot 12 inches long and 3 inches wide located 284.2 mm from the front face of the engine.
* Fuel-cell capacity has been reduced from 35 gallons to 30 gallons, and the amount of methanol teams may have in their trackside tanks has changed accordingly. Teams are allowed to carry 97 gallons for 200-mile events, 108 gallons for 225-mile events, 145 gallons for 300-mile events, 195 gallons for 400-mile events and 245 gallons for 500-mile events.
"There were two major reasons for adjusting the championship scoring system," said Brian Barnhart, IRL 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, like the other technical changes announced today, will make our sport safer for the driver." An IndyCar Series Open Test is scheduled for Feb. 11-12 at Phoenix International Raceway. The 2004 season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 on Feb. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. For ticket information for the season opener at Homestead-Miami, call (305) 230-RACE or visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.