KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Indy Racing League is considering a
schedule change for 2007, including moving its race at Kansas
Speedway from July to April, to boost its U.S. visibility entering
the Indianapolis 500.
However, president and chief operating officer Brian Barnhart
said Sunday, "a lot of puzzle pieces" have to fall into
place before that can happen.
One is the IRL's practice of holding its races at Kansas on the
same weekend as NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series, which Barnhart
said he would like to continue.
Another is that the IRL already is committed to running a street
race April 1 in St. Petersburg, Fla. That leaves the last two
weekends of the month as the most likely candidates for a
rescheduled Kansas race. A race on the last weekend of the month,
however, would be overshadowed by the NFL draft.
Another concern is what the IRL would do with its only
international event, at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. It has been held
on the third or fourth weekend of April for four years.
"That's been one of our biggest challenges from a league
standpoint," Barnhart said at a news conference before Sunday's
Kansas Lottery Indy 300. "We've run two very successful street
events at St. Petersburg ... and then we've kind of run into a
situation because of the logistics involved with the move of our
equipment to Motegi and to get the equipment back. We kind of
disappear off the domestic radar screen during the month of
If the league runs three events in April, Barnhart said, it's
possible that Motegi could still be one of them.
"Whether Motegi stays there or not, whether it moves or not,
the focus is we need to make sure we get a Kansas event in before
the Indianapolis 500," he said.
Fan surveys have supported moving the IRL race weekend from July
because of the summer heat, Kansas Speedway president Jeff Boerger
Making Kansas a showcase event next year also will help the IRL
promote its move to 100 percent ethanol fueling, Barnhart
said. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been a leading proponent of
the grain-based fuel.
Barnhart added that the league is looking at Iowa Speedway, now
under construction, as a possible expansion site in 2007. The
seven-eighths mile oval is to open in September.