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IRL season will go with the normal calendar year

The Indy Racing League will no longer end its season with the Indianapolis 500.

After a split season that spills into two years and winds up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony George's series will go back to a conventional schedule beginning in 1998.

Originally, the IRL decided to end each season with the Indy 500 to emphasize its importance as the greatest spectacle in auto racing.

But IRL teams said the split season made it difficult to sell sponsorship.

"This is something the team owners unanimously support," said IRL executive director Jack Long. "Given the calendar-year nature of sponsors' financial planning, this will help IRL teams meet their sponsors' objectives."