Organisers of the IZOD IndyCar Series have announced a 19-race calendar for the 2013 season, up from just 15 races in 2012.
The year will see three 'doubleheader' race weekends featuring standing starts; two new venues; a $1 million 'triple crown' for the winner of the three longest events; and six oval races compared to 13 road and street course events.
"We feel that our 2013 schedule will certainly challenge the fastest, most versatile drivers in the world with a strong mix of ovals and road and street courses, cumulating in 19 races," said Randy Bernard, the CEO of IndyCar.
The 'doubleheader' events will be at Detroit in June, Toronto in July and Houston in October. The six races will all be full distance (unlike the 'split' format trialled at Texas in 2011.) The doubleheader will see one of each pair of races begin with a standing start, with qualifying procedures to be announced in due course.
Series chief executive Randy Bernard said that he was in favour of growing the number of doubleheaders on the calendar, telling USA Today
on Friday that "doubleheaders will allow fans the opportunity to see more racing over the course of a race weekend.
"We believe the average distance traveled by fans will be longer for doubleheaders so we'll draw more fans," he added. "The more time you get to see people competing in a race is better, and adding a standing start to one of the races adds to the intrigue."
The new races announced on the calendar are the unique 'tricky triangle' Pocono Raceway tri-oval in July - which returns to the series for the first time since 1989 - and the Houston street course event at Reliant Park in October, last used by Champ Car in 2007
"Pocono is deep in open-wheel, oval racing tradition and has produced some of the most memorable races in Indy car history," explained Bernard. "The addition of Pocono allows us to bring back a version of the triple crown, restoring a popular legacy of our sport to reward the champion of our three longest races of the season."
The triple crown will pay out a $1 million bonus to a driver who sweeps all three of the season's long distance races - the 400-mile Pocono event and the 500-mile Indianapolis and Fontana marathons - or $250,000 to any driver who can win two out of the three.
The season has a familiar look to the first five outings, which have the traditional beginning at St Petersburg in Florida on March 24 followed by three more street courses at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, Long Beach in California and Sao Paulo in Brazil. That leads into the month of May, which is dedicated as usual to the build-up to the Indianapolis 500 which this year will take place on May 26.