The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series calendar will remain at 16 dates after series officials confirmed plans for next year between practice sessions on Saturday at the Kentucky Speedway.

However the raft of proposed changes recently linked to the venues where the IRL races will have to wait for another year at least as the already confirmed Milwaukee Mile was the only addition to the current roster, with the Gateway International Raceway, as rumours suggested, losing its place.

As usual the highlight of the year will be the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30th while stateside fans were also pleased to discover that all races will be covered live next year, including the series' second trip to the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

The 2004 season marks the ninth year of competition for the IRL. The 16-race schedule, featuring all ovals, equals the 2003 season for the largest number of events on an IRL IndyCar Series season schedule. All 16 events will be broadcast live on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 in the Unites States while all races will also be broadcast by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and over the internet. Domestic TV deals, including Sky Sports in the UK, have yet to be confirmed.

For the third consecutive year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will play host to the season opener, the Toyota Indy 300, with ESPN televising the event scheduled for Sunday, February 29th. The season will end with an ABC-televised race, the Chevy 500 on Sunday, October 17th at Texas Motor Speedway. TMS has played host to the IRL season finale since 1999.

"Entering our ninth season in 2004, the IRL IndyCar Series schedule continues to evolve, as it offers one of the most competitive motorsports environments in the world," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the Indy Racing League. "We appreciate the input of our teams and thank the tracks for their efforts to grow the IndyCar Series."

The 88th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 30th and will be broadcast for the 40th consecutive year by ABC. The relationship is the second-longest running partnership by a sporting event and a network.

Though most of the events remain near their traditional dates, there have been a few date changes.

The Milwaukee Mile will play host to its first IndyCar Series race on July 25th, while the Pikes Peak event has been moved from June to August 22nd. The IndyCar Series' lone date outside of the United States, the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi, will be announced in the near future.

For the first time in series history, there will be two consecutive night races, with the Bombardier 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway taking place back-to-back on June 12th and June 26th, respectively. The other night race, the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, is scheduled for July 17th.

2004 IRL IndyCar Series Schedule.

Feb. 29 Homestead-Miami Speedway March 21 Phoenix International Raceway TBA Twin Ring Motegi May 30 Indianapolis Motor Speedway June 12* Texas Motor Speedway June 26* Richmond International Raceway July 4 Kansas Speedway July 17* Nashville Superspeedway July 25 The Milwaukee Mile Aug. 1 Michigan International Speedway Aug. 15 Kentucky Speedway Aug. 22 Pikes Peak International Raceway Aug. 29 Nazareth Speedway Sept. 12 Chicagoland Speedway Oct. 3 California Speedway Oct. 17 Texas Motor Speedway

* -- night race