INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Oct. 31, 2005 -- The Indy Racing League, in an effort to encourage broader participation and taking its Menards Infiniti Pro Series to the next level, has announced that its average race purse for its 12 races in 2006 will be tripled, offering participants $3 million in race prize money overall.

Two of the 12 races, the Freedom 100 and Liberty Challenge, which are hosted by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will offer $300,000 race purses next season.

Events at St. Petersburg and Infineon Raceway, which will consist of two races on the same weekend, will offer $187,500 in race purses for each of the races held.

The remaining six races on the schedule -- Homestead-Miami Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Nashville Speedway, The Milwaukee Mile, Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway -- will offer $275,000 in race prize money.

After debuting on road and street-style events in 2005, the 2006 Menards Infiniti Pro Series schedule will feature a mix of six ovals and six road-course races, including both racing surfaces at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and doubleheaders at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Infineon Raceway.

"Today's announcement reinforces our commitment to making the Menards Infiniti Pro Series the perfect stepping stone into the IndyCar Series," said Brian Barnhart, president of the Indy Racing League. "The combination of a nice blend of oval and road-style events combined with the dramatic increase in race purse prize money will appeal to an even greater number of team owners and young, talented drivers."

"The distribution of the per race prize money is designed to benefit each and every team that takes the green flag," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. "In the coming weeks we will continue to rollout exciting news and enhancements that will further position the Menards Infiniti Pro Series as 'The Fast Track to Indy.'"

"This is a very positive development," said Brian Stewart, 2005 championship-winning team owner. "If there's a driver with a strong track record, a proven winner in some of the classes on the way up such as Formula Ford or Star Mazda, and I think they can win, the prize money can be a big part of the budget."

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series is the primary ladder series for the IRL IndyCar Series using Dallara chassis, Infiniti Q45 engines and Firestone Firehawk tires exclusively on all cars.

Past series champions A.J. Foyt (2002) and Mark Taylor (2003), along with Ed Carpenter, winner of the inaugural Freedom 100, have all graduated to the IndyCar Series since the Menards Infiniti Pro Series inception in 2002.

All Menards Infiniti Pro Series races are televised by ESPN2 and distributed worldwide via ESPN International.