The Firestone Indy Lights will again offer one of the 'most diverse schedules' in motorsports in 2009, with 15 races divided among seven ovals, four temporary street circuits, and three permanent road courses, organisers announced today.

"The 2009 schedule includes three new venues and the series' first two races outside of the United States. All races will be held in conjunction with the IndyCar Series," read a statement to the media.

"Just like the IndyCar Series champion, the Firestone Indy Lights champion has to succeed on all types of racing circuits," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Firestone Indy Lights. "This schedule demands the ability of both drivers and teams to master a variety of venues and the challenges each one brings with the end result being a true champion and a driver that is fully prepared to be an IndyCar Series driver."

For the seventh consecutive year, the Firestone Indy Lights season will begin competition in the state of Florida, but for the first time a doubleheader weekend on the Streets of St. Petersburg will open the campaign on April 4-5.

The series will then make its debut on the Streets of Long Beach on April 18-19 before beginning a string of four consecutive ovals which includes the series' premier event - the Firestone Freedom 100 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 22, two days before the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500.

The summer stretch also features a Canadian swing with debut races on the Streets of Toronto on July 11-12 and at Edmonton's City Centre Airport on July 25-26.

"The opportunity to compete on Carb Day at Indianapolis in front of more than 100,000 fans is an experience that is second to none for our drivers, teams and sponsors," Bailey added.

"Adding two events in Canada will also allow us to showcase the future stars of IndyCar Series racing to a new audience."

For the first time, the season will conclude at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which will host the Firestone Indy Lights for the seventh-consecutive season.

"Firestone Racing is quite pleased with the 2009 schedule," Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing continued. "It will be absolutely fantastic to see the Firestone Indy Lights name back on the streets of Long Beach, where we held our very first Firestone Indy Lights race back in 1991, and in Toronto - another great venue at which we have a lot of history.

"Also as the sole tyre supplier to Firestone Indy Lights, the diverse schedule presents our engineers the opportunity to provide different tyres and technology that are suited to the both the ovals and road/street courses. We are quite eager to see the 2009 challengers in action in St. Pete."

The Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Teams compete for nearly $4 million in prize money in cars that are second in speed only to the IndyCar Series at most tracks they visit.

The complete 2009 provisional Firestone Indy Lights schedule is as follows:

April 4 Streets of St. Petersburg April 5 Streets of St. Petersburg April 18 or 19 Streets of Long Beach April 25 or 26 Kansas Speedway May 22 Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 30 or 31 Milwaukee Mile June 20 or 21 Iowa Speedway July 4 or 5 Watkins Glen International July 11 or 12 Streets of Toronto July 25 or 26 Edmonton City Centre Airport August 1 Kentucky Speedway August 8 or 9 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 22 or 23 Infineon Raceway August 29 Chicagoland Speedway October 10 or 11 Homestead-Miami Speedway

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