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Homestead, Barber to hold IRL tests.

IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams have been given the chance to participate in two pre-season test sessions at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park to prepare for the 2009 season.

The first Spring Training dates are scheduled for 23-25 February on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where IndyCar Series teams will test under the lights from 1600-2200hrs on the latter two days in preparation for the 17-race schedule that includes ten ovals. Indy Lights rookies will practice from 0900-1700hrs on 23 February, and all series drivers will be allowed to test from 0900-1545hrs the following day.

“The 2009 Indy Racing League season brings some pretty exciting new changes, and moving championship weekend to Homestead-Miami Speedway over 9-10 October is at the top of that list,” said circuit president Curtis Gray, “Seeing as how we'll be providing the South Florida finish line for both the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights championships this fall, it's fitting that we'll also host Spring Training 2009. Book-ending the Indy Racing League season in Miami is as good as it gets for race fans.”

The two series will then prepare for the various road and street courses on the 2009 schedule with another 'open test', this time over 21-23 March, at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, a venue only once visited before by the IRL, when seven drivers tested there in October 2007.

“It's no secret we've been courting the Indy Racing League for a while now,” admitted ZOOM Motorsports president Gene Hallman, who helps oversee promotion and management of Barber Motorsports Park, “We're very happy they've selected the finest motorsports facility in the US for their sole pre-season road course test, and we feel that open wheel fans across the south-east will extend some of our famous southern hospitality to the drivers and teams during their stay here in Birmingham.”

IndyCar Series teams will test on the 16-turn, 2.38-mile course from 0900-1700hrs on 22 March and between 0900-1600hrs on 23 March, while the Indy Lights teams will get their chance to run between 0900-1700hrs on 21 March.

“Everyone is ready to get back to the racetrack, and there are no better places to prepare for the 2009 season than Homestead-Miami Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park,” opined IRL president of competition Brian Barnhart, “This will be our third consecutive season to test under the lights at Homestead-Miami. It's a fantastic venue that gives everyone the opportunity to measure the progress they've made over the winter and prepare for the season.

“But we're excited to bring both the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights to Barber Motorsports Park. The facility is first class, and we know the fans in that part of the country are excited to have us there.”

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