Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

IRL boss promises full grid for Indy

The 2006 Indianapolis 500 will have a full field of 33 cars this season

That's the message that Brian Barnhart, president of the Indy Racing League, will deliver tomorrow at a 'State of the IRL address' to the gathered media at Homestead Speedway in Florida.

Concern about the prestigious race having a full field this year has again been raised, with there likely to be only 19 cars regularly competing in the IRL this season.

Only 18 have appeared at this weekend's official test session at Homestead, and this, combined with the series needing Honda to provide engines to the entire field this season, has prompted concern that the 33-car grid will not be filled.

However, Barnhart believes that with Honda's special leasing programme for the month of May there will be enough extra cars competing in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing".

"There's no reason to expect less this season, even with Honda Performance Development supplying the entire Indianapolis 500 field," Barnhart said.

"There will be a level playing field, putting victory more in the hands of driver ability and crew capability with all teams will having exactly the same program. We've outlined a program where basically the engines will be serviced at both HPD and Ilmor Engineering. Those engines will be shipped and held as a pool of engines.

"A single-engine supplier will potentially produce more race winners and a tighter championship race. That equals increased interest, exposure and compelling storylines.

"Engine leases for a full-month program for the 90th Indianapolis 500 (practices, qualifying, race) will be $250,000 - half the cost of last year. After the first week of qualifying, when the first 22 spots are filled, the team seeking to practice and qualify will pay $115,000.

"Anything that we can do that can have this significant of a reduction in a team's cost to participate is certainly a move in the right direction and will help encourage participation."

IRL executive vice president of communications Fred Nation back up Barnhart's comments, saying that there has been this concern before and the Indy 500 always had a full grid.

"For the past two years people kept saying this and we always had the full amount of cars," Nation told autosport.com. "There is no doubt whatsoever that we will have a full grid.

"I don't know why they keep saying it. The two-tiered developing engine leasing we've got makes it easy to run the Indy 500.

"We are talking to a lot of people behind the scene about extra cars. Yes, some of them won't come off but enough of them will come off to make the field."

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Ganassi to use Panoz in road races
Next article Castroneves stays on top

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe