IndyCar modifies TEAM program for 2011
Seeking to increase the competitive balance throughout the IZOD IndyCar Series field, INDYCAR officials have modified the Team Enhancement and Allocation Matrix for the 2011 season.
Though the financial guarantee to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series teams will remain the same as it was in 2010, the program will be limited to the top 22 entrants in the final IZOD IndyCar Series entrant points from the 2010 season.
"Credibility is very important to us, and we consistently hear from fans that they want to see teams fielding the best of the best on the track," said Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR. "Our fans want to see the very best teams and drivers, and in achieving that goal, it was very important for us to define our sport. We have the fastest, more versatile race car and race car drivers in the world and that differentiates the IZOD IndyCar Series from other forms of motorsports. We want to make sure we're showcasing our sport by putting more emphasis on great drivers and teams coming together to ensure quality competition. When our fans show up at an event, we want to guarantee they're seeing the fastest, most versatile drivers on the track. We never want to have someone uncompetitive who can buy their way into a series."
Entrants that finished outside the top 22 in 2010 or a new entrant could still qualify for the TEAM program if any entrants that qualify for TEAM do not compete in 2011. Additional funds will be used to enhance the prize fund for IZOD IndyCar Series entrants that do not qualify for the TEAM program at each IZOD IndyCar Series event in 2011.
"These changes to the TEAM program ensure the competition in the series remains at a high level throughout the field and rewards entrants based on their drivers' performance," Bernard said. "It also creates a sense of urgency for our teams to finish in the top 22 at the end of the season. Even with these changes, we anticipate 25 to 28 cars per race, when factoring in full-time non-Leaders Circle teams and one-off entries."
Introduced in 2008, the TEAM program is designed to provide a financial foundation for entrants committed to running the entire IZOD IndyCar Series season. Each entrant is assured approximately $1.2 million through the program, which is an extension of the INDYCAR's Leaders Circle program.
In addition, the TEAM program guarantees at least $2.2 million to the Indianapolis 500 winner. The driver for the highest-placing Indianapolis 500 entrant not eligible for the TEAM program will receive a bonus of $25,000 .
The IZOD IndyCar Series champion will continue to receive a $1 million bonus, with second through fifth place in the final standings receiving bonuses of $250,000, $175,000, $125,000 and $75,000.
In addition to the TEAM program money, teams compete for bonuses of $35,000 for first place, $25,000 for second, $20,000 for third, $15,000 for fourth and $10,000 for fifth place at each IZOD IndyCar Series race aside from the Indianapolis 500. The driver for the highest-placing entrant not eligible for the TEAM program will receive a bonus of $15,000.
All contingency prizes will continue to be awarded to entrants for individual IZOD IndyCar Series events.
The Leaders Circle program was established in 2002 to provide incentives to teams that participate in the series full time. The program leverages relationships built by INDYCAR with its partners, sponsors and suppliers to provide benefits directly to the teams.