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Barnhart defends compact schedule

IRL IndyCar Series president Brian Barnhart has defended the championship's shrinking calendar, and declared that the early end to this year's season would not be a one-off

There were murmurs of discontent from some teams when the 2006 schedule was announced last autumn. The number of races was reduced from 17 to 14 and the season finale was brought forward from mid-October to 10th September.

Barnhart believes that the change will lead to larger television ratings for the series.
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"While it presents fewer events than 2005, it allows for continuity with ABC/ESPN to provide motorsports fans with an IndyCar Series event nearly every week," he said.

"We are convinced that a compressed schedule will allow us to build momentum and develop appointment viewing of the IndyCar Series on television."

Although the controversial early autumn finish is a long-term policy, Barnhart said that the IRL was already working to ensure that there would more races on the 2007 calendar.

"We are committed to ending our season in early September yet we will grow our schedule in the March and April window as well as in some of the gaps that you currently see in our 2006 schedule," he said.

"New venues, and by that I mean both venues that have previously hosted the IndyCar Series as well as venues that have little or no history with the IndyCar Series, are on our radar screen."

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