The way in which the new Atlantic Championship standings will be determined has been reconfigured from the format of previous years, series officials have announced as they revealed the latest changes to be made to the series.
Most notably, drivers will now count their best eleven finishes from the twelve races on the 2009 schedule, eliminating their worst result of the season. The number of points and the number of points-paying positions has also changed, with a race victory now netting a driver 20 points, as opposed to the 31 awarded in recent seasons. Second place is now worth 16 points, with 14 for third, twelve for fourth and ten for fifth, continuing to decrease at one-point intervals all the way to 13th place. Previously, points were awarded for all finishers in the top 20.
The fastest driver in each qualifying session will continue to earn a bonus point, with a similar 'hard charger' bonus going to the driver who improves the most positions from start to finish in each race. In the ten races with two qualifying sessions, the fastest driver in each session is guaranteed a front-row starting spot and the driver with the fastest overall speed from the two sessions will start from the pole. The remaining spots in the field will be filled by in order of the drivers' best speed from the two sessions.
“By allowing each driver to throw out their lowest finish of the season, we believe it will make our championship even more competitive in 2009,” said series VP of operations John Brunner, “If a driver has some misfortune in one race, it will not necessarily take them out of contention for the title. By awarding points only to the top 13 finishers, however, it places more importance on performing well in each race in order to win points.”
Atlantic officials also announced that a series-sanctioned test will be held at Palm Beach International Raceway over 10-11 March, just over a week in advance of the season-opener, scheduled for Friday 20 March, at Sebring International Raceway.