Despite the ongoing dispute over whether and where the annual Gold Coast event will feature on next year's IndyCar Series schedule, the American category has confirmed that at least 24 cars - including Australia's home-grown heroes - will hit the streets of Surfers Paradise this October.
With the event likely to have non-championship status - unless a deal is struck for it to open the 2009 campaign - there was some speculation as to how many teams would make the trip 'down under', but the announcement of 'a major prize pool' appears to have made the rebranded Nikon Indy 300 a post-season attraction.
"We are looking forward to delivering an exciting race in October for the great fans of the Gold Coast and we will be bringing 24 high-speed, high-tech IndyCars to race through the streets,” Indy Racing League commercial president Terry Angstadt confirmed.
While no names have yet been announced, Australian race fans can expect to see the majority of the series' frontrunners, including current points leader Scott Dixon, championship frontrunners Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan; as well as other attractions including Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti and Australians Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.
With 26 cars having taken to the track at Kentucky Speedway last weekend, it is clear that there will not be a full complement making the journey to the Gold Coast, with Marty Roth's tiny eponymous outfit the most likely to opt out. However, with 'one-off' entries from the likes of Walker Racing and Sarah Fisher Racing having bulked out the field at various rounds, the exact make up of the field will remain clouded until official confirmation of names is forthcoming.
“I am delighted to be able to confirm that 24 of the IndyCar Series stars will head to the Nikon Indy 300 to join the big-names of the V8 Supercar Championship Series on the Gold Coast this October,” said event GM Greg Hooton.
“The Australian fans and our New Zealand visitors will have the special chance to see no less than three home-grown heroes on the track, amongst all of the front-running teams and drivers, as they compete for the major prize pool for which details will be released by the IRL closer to the event.
“As well as our local stars, names such as Andretti and Rahal will return to the Australian racing landscape for the first time in years, and I can't tell you how excited I am about that