The Indy Racing League has announced tweaks to its aerodynamic rules for oval races in a bid to improve the quality of racing in the IndyCar Series.
For the Kentucky event on August 1, which is the next oval on the schedule after July's trio of road and street courses, the teams will have additional aero options with tire ramps, sidepod extensions and brake backing plates.
The intention is that these modifications will give the option of adding up to 300 pounds in additional downforce, which the IRL hopes will encourage more passing.
Recent processional oval races have come in for increasing criticism, with the nadir being reached at Richmond last weekend when first and second place finishers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti apologized to the crowd for the lack of entertainment value.
The race saw most passes completed in the pits, and the leaders struggling to lap backmarkers whose times were a second slower around the 0.75-mile track. Although the Milwaukee and Iowa events saw more on-track passes, the Kansas, Indianapolis and Texas rounds had also featured very little of the wheel to wheel action for which the championship's superspeedway races used to be renowned.
IRL president for competition, Brian Barnhart, said it was extremely important that the series restored its reputation for close racing.
"We have always prided ourselves on doing our best to create the most entertaining and compelling on-track product in motorsports, and I think in the last several years – especially with this version of racecar – we've been very successful in achieving that," he said.
Last weekend at Richmond championship leader Franchitti refuted suggestions that the lack of passing was due to all the teams being so closely matched now that many had six years' experience of the Dallara-Honda package used by all competitors.
"I don't think it's because things have equalized because there were some people out there with horrible handling cars," he said. "We couldn't get around them. At the start of the run, we'd run 16.8s, then dropped to 17.0s, as the things equalized. And you catch traffic and you'll be running 18.0s and 18.2s on a normal lap."