The IndyCar Series is set to return to the Iowa Speedway for a further two years, with the championship nearing completion on a new contract with the 7/8-mile venue.
The 2009 event, the championship's third visit to Iowa, attracted a sell-out crowd, to the delight of track boss Stan Clement.
"We have a record crowd this weekend, and all the additional seating in place is sold out," he said. "We are working to finalize a multi-year agreement. We continue to develop this event and are excited about its potential and feel great about the current agreement we're working on."
The drivers welcomed the news of Iowa's likely contract extension, and said the spectators made the venue one of the highlights of the calendar.
"It's awesome," said Ryan Briscoe. "There's so much hype here. And I think the Iowans who come to this race are knowledgeable and enthusiastic open-wheel racing fans. It's just great to come out here and see a packed house. We wish we had that everywhere we go."
Dan Wheldon, who won at Iowa in 2008, added: "I know a lot of people say that Iowa is in the middle of nowhere, but you know what, we get such a great crowd and they're so enthusiastic.
"As a driver you could put me in paradise, but if there's nobody in the grandstands then it's not good racing."
Calendar changes are expected for 2010, with the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Alabama, angling for an IndyCar race after a large crowd turned out for a pre-season test, while a date in Brazil, possibly as a season opener. However, the rumored return of the Cleveland airport track that staged CART Champ Car races for many years is apparently on hold until at least 2011.
"It now appears that they would like to wait until 2011 for consideration," said the Indy Racing League's president of commercial affairs, Terry Angstadt, of Cleveland, for which Newman/Haas/Lanigan team co-owner Mike Lanigan serves as promoter.