IPS: IRL: 2004 pre-season test dates announced

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Dec. 1, 2003 -- Indy Racing League teams and drivers will participate in pre-season Open Tests Jan. 27-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Feb. 10-12 at Phoenix International Raceway, IRL officials announced Dec....

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Dec. 1, 2003 -- Indy Racing League teams and drivers will participate in pre-season Open Tests Jan. 27-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Feb. 10-12 at Phoenix International Raceway, IRL officials announced Dec. 1.

Menards Infiniti Pro Series teams and drivers will test on the first day of each three-day session, followed by two days of IndyCar(R) Series testing.

Both tracks have undergone changes since each series competed at the respective facilities in March.

After Tony Kanaan won the Purex Dial Indy 200 March 23 at PIR, construction crews reconfigured the track, eliminating the opening in the backstretch wall and widening the exit to Turn 2. In addition, a portion of Turn 4 was torn up to build a tunnel, and a piece of asphalt in that area had to be repaved.

At Homestead, after Scott Dixon won the Toyota Indy 300 on March 2, construction crews began rebuilding the four turns, which had been banked at six degrees. The track now has a variable banking system, and the degree of banking increases progressively from the bottom to the top of each turn. At the midpoint of each turn, there are 18 degrees of banking at the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top.

The track was repaved, and the SAFER Barrier, which debuted in 2002 at the 86th Indianapolis 500, was installed in the four turns.

"The first two tracks we will compete at in 2004 are Homestead and Phoenix and each has changed since the Indy Racing League last competed there," said Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of racing operations for the IRL. "It's important for all of our teams and drivers to get an opportunity to get acclimated to these changes, and that's why we decided on Homestead and Phoenix for our Open Tests. We want to ensure a good race for all of our fans, drivers, teams and sponsors."

Other 2004 Open Test dates will be announced at a later date.

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 on Feb. 29, 2004 at Homestead. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN. The 200-mile Phoenix event is March 21 and will be broadcast live on ABC. Both races will be broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS