BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — IndyCar racing is coming to NASCAR country.

The Indy Racing League and promoters announced a deal Monday that will bring the open-wheeled cars to the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park track starting in April 2010.

“This will be the only IndyCar Series race in the Deep South, meaning it is a great tourist draw for the region,” said Gene Hallman, a longtime area sports promoter who heads Zoom Motorsports, which will stage the race.

More than 20,000 people turned out for IndyCar testing in March at the Barber track, which is about 40 miles west of the Talladega Superspeedway. Officials estimated the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama could attract as many as 100,000 spectators from April 9-11.

“It’s a really interesting track,” IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti said in a statement. “It’s a fabulous facility — the way it’s built, the way it’s kept. The track is a real commitment track, a lot of really, really fast corners.”

Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League’s commercial division, said officials worked for almost two years on bringing IndyCar racing to Birmingham.

The Indy Racing League has 18 dates on its schedule each year, and the Alabama track is getting a spot that opened up when Detroit lost its race.

The rest of the 2010 IndyCar Series schedule will be announced July 31.

Barber Motorsports Park was opened in 2003 by George Barber, former owner of Barber Dairies. Motorsports Park officials bill it as the largest philanthropic project in the history of Alabama with more than $70 million in private funds contributed.

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