Posted on: September 2, 2008 3:36 pm

Franchitti back to the IRL, replacing Wheldon

Interesting news out of Chip Ganassi Racing today.

Dario Franchitti is returning to the IRL to race for Ganassi, replacing Dan Wheldon who's leaving for a "very exciting opportunity for 2009."  Coud it be a NASCAR gig? He's mentioned the possibility in the past, but I can't imagine he'd make the jump with Penske, which is basically the best available seat left in the Cup Series for 2009.

Chip Ganassi:

“Dan Wheldon has done everything this organization has asked of him.  He was competitive from the moment that he stepped into the car for us back in 2006 and has provided Target Chip Ganassi Racing many highlights over his three years with the team.  Dan is a class act both on and off the track and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Dan Wheldon:

"I have enjoyed these last three seasons with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but will be moving on to pursue a very exciting opportunity for 2009.

"I want to personally thank Target and the whole Chip Ganassi Racing organization for the success and enjoyment we shared together. With that said, I will certainly miss my working relationship with Scott Dixon and wish him and the team all the best for this weekend at Chicagoland.

"I will be announcing my plans for next season in the near future. In the meantime I want to focus my efforts on winning the last race of the season. I wish the team well for 2009 and beyond."

Posted on: July 31, 2008 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2008 11:11 pm

Thoughts on the 2009 IndyCar schedule

I personally don't like the direction IndyCar has headed adding more and more road- and street-course events.

Eight races on the 2009 schedule will be of the twisty-course variety. That's three more than the series had in 2007. And there's a possibility a ninth road-course race is added (more on that a few graphs down).

Michigan (oval) got dropped before this season with Australia (road course) a very late addition. How late? Australia wasn't even confirmed as an event on this year's schedule until Wednesdays' announcement of the 2009 schedule. However, the race won't count toward the championship. So basically it's an exhibition, but anyhow, moving on .... 

Then came the merger with Champ Car adding two more road courses -- Long Beach and Edmonton.

In 2009, yet another road course (Toronto) has been added while another oval (Nashville) has been dropped. 

And from the sounds of things they'd like to add more road/street courses as Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL's commercial division, said the series was interested in expanding into Cleveland and Houston, which most certainly would be street races.

Also, Australia isn't currently on the 2009 tentative schedule. However, the series and organizers are still in negotiations. So there very well could be a ninth road course in 2009. And maybe next year the event would actually count in the standings.

Speedway Motorsports seemed somewhat stunned to see a couple of its tracks -- Las Vegas and New Hampshire -- excluded from the schedule. In particular, Las Vegas was looking to host the season finale. But apparently negotiations fell through because the series wished to run on the Vegas road course rather than utilize the oval, which is what SMI wanted to showcase.

I prefer the IRL in its original incarnation, when it featured only ovals. I didn't pay much attention to CART aside from the Indy 500 back in the day.

Over the past 10 or so years, with its oval-dominated schedule, IndyCar had managed to pull some of my attention away from NASCAR, but if it's going to trend back toward road courses now that it has finally gobbled up Champ Car, I can't say it's going to hold my interest as much.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: IndyCar, IRL
Posted on: February 22, 2008 6:45 pm

A great day for open-wheel racing ...

... maybe not so great for Danica Patrick.

At long last, the IRL and Champ Car have ended one of the most ridiculous feuds in history.

It's about time. The divide lasted much too long. NASCAR has assumed the throne in America, while the former king has become nothing more than an afterthough aside from when Indianapolis rolls around.

It made absolutely no sense to have two series providing basically the same product. I just never understood why it took so long for CART/Champ Car to come to its senses. Twelve years this has gone on. Why? Too many egos it seems.

With the Indy 500 in its back pocket, the IRL always had the upper hand. I've always felt the IRL product was better as well. The oval concept with which it was born under worked well and led to some compelling racing, even if not a whole lot of people noticed.

Meanwhile, CART/Champ Car stuck with the street and road courses, which has much less appeal except to hardcore fans. 

According to reports, the IRL will gobble up three races from the Champ Car schedule, but it will remain heavy on the ovals. Hopefully it stays that way as well.

According to reports, Champ Car teams expected to move to the IRL include Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, which won the past four Champ Car championships; PKV Racing; Forsythe Championship Racing; Conquest Racing; Derrick Walker Racing and Dale Coyne Racing.

It's for this reason I say it's not such a great day for Patrick. With a stronger and deeper field -- in addition to more road courses which aren't exactly her specialty -- winning just got a whole lot harder. However, if she does manage to win now, it will be a much great accomplishment, but I'm not so high on that feat happening like I once was. 

Finally, though, there's hope for open-wheel racing in America again.

If the axiom that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, then open-wheel racing will be Paul Bunyan in no time.


Category: Auto Racing
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