Changes Coming For IndyCar Series

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INDIANAPOLIS — Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League, announced several changes to IZOD IndyCar Series cars for the 2010 season during the annual winter meetings at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week.

Changes announced for 2010 include removal of the four-position fuel mixture switch from the cars. The Honda overtake assist system will remain and receive almost a doubling of horsepower boost.

The Honda overtake assist was added prior to the race at Kentucky Speedway in August last year and carried through the remainder of the season on ovals and road courses. It provides drivers a boost in horsepower and RPMs for a predetermined number of uses and durations by activating a button on the steering wheel.

A reverse gear supplied by promotional partner Xtrac will be incorporated in cars for the nine road and street course races and be available to drivers through the paddle shift system. Drivers will retain six forward gears, and the kit won’t be required for the eight oval events.

Additionally, a floating back headrest configuration that has been researched and tested by Indy Racing League Director of Engineering Jeff Horton was recommended for implementation by teams.

– Teams will realize a dollar savings through decreases in the Honda engine full-season and Indianapolis 500-only lease programs. A lease for the 17-race season has been reduced $27,000 to $935,000 ($15,000 lease and removal of $12,000 shipping fee) — about half of the 2005 lease program cost.

The basic price for an Indy-only team is $150,000, down $75,000 from last year. The package includes 800 miles of practice and qualifications, Miller Lite Carb Day and the race. A fresh engine for Miller Lite Carb Day and the race will be available for $60,000.

A short Indy program — commencing May 20, two days before qualifications — will be offered for $90,000. It includes 500 miles of practice and qualifying, with the engine carried over to Miller Lite Carb Day and the race.

– For the second consecutive year, Sam Schmidt Motorsports will team with Chip Ganassi Racing for the Indianapolis 500. Veteran Townsend Bell, who finished fourth in the 2009 edition of the Indianapolis 500, will drive the No. 99 SSM/CGR entry.

– IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams will have two open testing periods during the 2010 season, beginning with a preseason open test at Alabama’s Barber Motorsports Park next month.

The Barber Motorsports Park open test, slated for Feb. 24-26, will be the only open test conducted prior to the start of the 2010 season. An in-season oval testing day for IZOD IndyCar Series teams is scheduled for the 1.5-mile oval at Kentucky Speedway May 4.

– Indy Racing League Director of Medical Services Dr. Michael Olinger is among those who have traveled to Haiti to assist with the recovery efforts after a major earthquake ravaged the small country Jan. 12.

Olinger, who has worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a variety of disasters, will serve as a deputy medical director on FEMA’s Red Incident Support Team.

– Bowers & Wilkins, a leading producer of reference quality hi-fi and home theater speakers, will sponsor the FAZZT Race Team and driver Alex Tagliani in the season-opening IZOD IndyCar Series race in Brazil March 14.