Extra track time for IndyCar rookie drivers More than half the IndyCar Series field will receive bonus track time on race weekends this season.
Either 30 or 45 minutes of practice has been scheduled for rookies and entrants outside the top 10 in points before all cars take the racetrack on the first day of an event weekend (outside of the 93rd Indianapolis 500). The bonus begins at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (10-10:30 a.m.) April 17, with all cars scheduled to practice on the 1.97-mile, 11-turn circuit for the first time from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
“We’re trying things that help encourage new drivers in the series, in particular drivers advancing from Firestone Indy Lights,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League. “With the economy the way it is and limited testing, one of the byproducts is that teams can’t afford to – or through rules – can’t test very often, which makes an owner less inclined to take a chance on an unproven driver or rookie.
“So you respond with extra track time that doesn’t cost anything; it’s at a race event weekend. If you’re out of the top 10 in points, it’s more of a competition issue. Instead of going testing, we’re trying to give an opportunity to close the gap on the top 10 in points by giving extra track time.”
IndyCar Series drivers will have two sessions of practice for all cars (10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. ET and 3:25-4:25 p.m.) April 3 – the first day of preparations for the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first-year participants will go through the Rookie Orientation Program on May 6.
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