The IRL IndyCar Series teams and drivers will get a chance to sample the 1.77-mile version of the Infineon Raceway that the series will use in 2005 during a test session later this year where they will also be able to get a handle on the series' new set of road course car mods.

World-class open-wheel racing will return to the Sonoma Valley for the first time in 35 years in 2005 as Infineon Raceway will host the first ever IRL IndyCar Series road course event on the weekend of August 26th-28th next year.

The rolling road course high in the Californian wine region will be the first road course event since the inception of the IRL in 1996 and will be joined on the League's 2005 calendar by fellow NASCAR Nextel Cup venue, Watkins Glen.

"Even with all our facility improvements and the terrific range of events we host, there has remained one glaring hole on the Infineon Raceway schedule," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. "This track will be an incredible venue for the IRL IndyCar Series, and we look forward to offering Northern California fans the widest variety of motor racing available anywhere."

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Page added that discussions have already begun with several companies who have expressed interest in sponsorship of the event. Additional support series will be announced at a later date.

The IRL will use a modified version of the road course that will feature The Chute, which is used in the Nextel Cup Series, as well as modified sections at Turn 9 (put in initially for bike races) and Turn 11 (the final hairpin).

The track will also complete minor runoff and barrier enhancements to accommodate the IRL. The IRL main event will be contested over a 10-turn, 1.77-mile road course; this will mark the first time this version of the circuit has been used.

"Infineon Raceway's debut on the IRL IndyCar Series coincides with the IRL's 10th anniversary, and we are excited to return Indy-style racing to the Northern California region as it meets one of the IRL's primary goals to bring the IndyCar Series to new markets for both sponsors and fans," said Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president of business affairs. "Choosing Infineon Raceway was easy, as we discovered that fans in the region get our sport, follow our sport and support the IndyCar Series on television."

The last major open-wheel race at Infineon Raceway took place in 1970, when Dan Gurney took the chequered flag in the USAC IndyCar 150. That field also included names like Mario Andretti, Mark Donahue and Al Unser.

IRL race teams will get their first official taste of the 10-turn, 1.77-mile road course during a test session scheduled later this year.