Philip Morris U.S.A. has announced the Marlboro Lap Leader Award as part of its sponsorship commitment in the 2002 Indy Racing League (IRL) series.

The $100,000 program continues the successful IRL lap leader award, which started in 1997 and is designed to recognize the lap leader at each of the 15 races on the IRL circuit. There will be an additional bonus for leading the most laps at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and for leading the most laps overall during the 2002 IRL season.

"We're very pleased to announce Philip Morris U.S.A.'s participation in the IRL lap leader award program for the 2002 IRL season," said Ina Broeman, Category Director, Marlboro. "As part of our new sponsorship in the IRL series we're glad that the opportunity was available to take ownership of this season-wide program. When joining the IRL, one of our goals was to participate in a program that recognizes outstanding achievement on a race-by-race basis and we feel this program meets with our objectives."

The driver who leads the most laps in a race will receive a cheque for $5,000 that will be presented during the pre-race ceremonies at the following race. Since Sam Hornish Jr. led the most laps at the Grand Prix of Miami, the Bombardier ATV Copper World 200 and the Yamaha 400, he will be the first recipient of the award - a total of $15,000 - at the Firestone 225 at Nazareth Speedway. An additional $15,000 will be added to the bonus for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race bringing the total to $20,000 for the driver who leads the most laps at the May classic. In addition, the driver who leads the most laps during the 2002 IRL season will receive a $10,000 bonus at the season-ending banquet.

"We are pleased that Philip Morris U.S.A. has decided to participate in the lap leader award," said Tony George, President and CEO of the Indy Racing League. "It is an award coveted by teams, as it recognizes and rewards those who push the competition to the highest level, both for each race, as well as for the championship."

Journalists will have the opportunity to participate in the Marlboro Lap Leader Award program by entering an on-site contest to predict who will lead the most laps in a given race. Ballots will be available in the press room starting with the Firestone 225 and continuing at each event (with the exception of Michigan). The journalist who correctly predicts the lap leader and is closest to the number of laps led, will be awarded a stainless steel "Siras" sports watch, courtesy of Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watches. The presentation will take place in the press room after the official box score has been distributed.