The 2008 Kentucky Speedway IndyCar Series race will play a key role in deciding the series championship for the ninth consecutive year by opening the series four-race stretch run Aug. 9.

The 300-mile Kentucky event will be race No. 13 of 16 on the series docket and will be one of two in the season-ending stretch contested on oval tracks. Kentucky Speedway will stage its IndyCar Series event at night for the second straight season. The track drew its fourth-largest IndyCar Series crowd of 56,492 to its first series night event Aug. 11, 2007. The speedway will join Homestead-Miami Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, and Nashville Superspeedway in playing host to nighttime series races.

Race time and the full 2008 Kentucky Speedway schedule will be announced at a future date.

The annual Kentucky Speedway IndyCar Series stop will rank among the closing four series races for the fifth time and the final six races of a series season for the eighth time. The 66,089-seat facility was the site of the second-last race of the 2000 season, the fourth-last race of the 2007 and 2001 seasons, the third-last race of the 2006 season, the fifth-last race of the 2003 season and the sixth-last race of the 2005 and 2004 seasons.

Two Kentucky Speedway IndyCar Series winners continued on to capture series titles in the same season. Two-time Kentucky champs Sam Hornish, Jr., won the 2006 series title and Buddy Lazier captured the 2000 championship following his inaugural IndyCar Series win at the track. Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan won the 2006 Kentucky Speedway event before finishing third in the championship standings and 61 points shy of reigning champion Dario Franchitti.

IndyCar Series drivers will again face one of the most diverse schedules in all of motorsports. The schedule, which opens March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and concludes Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway, will include 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits. The 92nd Indianapolis 500 is slated for May 25.

"We look ahead to the 2008 season knowing that the IndyCar Series offers the most diverse schedule in all of motorsports," Indy Racing League President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Barnhart said. "Our schedule demands the ability of both drivers and teams to master a variety of venues and the challenges each one brings with the end result being a true champion."

Each IndyCar Series event will be televised nationally by ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC.

As the IndyCar Series prepares for its new campaign, league officials are already working on new safety and technology opportunities including the introduction of a paddle shift system on IndyCar Series cars, improved Side Impact Protection, the application of a new steering technology to enhance the steering effort on road courses and the ongoing research and development to identify the most effective seat design, structure and seatbelt configuration to provide the drivers with the highest levels of protection.

The complete 2008 IndyCar Series schedule follows: March 29- Homestead-Miami Speedway, 1.5-mile oval (Night) April 6- Streets of St. Petersburg, 1.8-mile street course April 19- Twin Ring Motegi, 1.5-mile oval April 27- Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile oval May 25- Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval June 1- The Milwaukee Mile, 1-mile oval June 7- Texas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval (Night) June 22- Iowa Speedway, .875-mile oval June 28- Richmond International Raceway, .75-mile oval (Night) July 6- Watkins Glen International, 3.37-mile road course July 12- Nashville Superspeedway, 1.33-mile oval (Night) July 20- Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 2.258-mile road course Aug. 9- Kentucky Speedway, 1.5-mile oval (Night) Aug. 24- Infineon Raceway, 2.4-mile road course Aug. 31- The Raceway at Belle Isle, 2.096-mile street course Sept. 7- Chicagoland Speedway, 1.5-mile oval.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~