Monday, February 18, 2008

Feb. 18 newsstand: Unification updates & Daytona

Unification updates
ESPN says talks are still ongoing
An anonymous source says "if something is going to happen, it will happen soon."
Says KK: "We continue to see advantages in a merger with the IRL. Equally, we are quite happy to go it alone. At the moment, we're going Champ Car racing."
Says TG: "Things are progressing, but it is delicate and complicated."
RP says he will provide an extra car or parts to CC teams moving over.

This story from the Nevada Appeal quotes two Champ Car sources
*-Everything is on hold on the CC side.
*-Quoting an Atlantic team boss: "Our team owners have put a stop to all expenditures, and we have four chassis in-house that are pretty much paperweights at this point."
*-Atlantic management is looking at trying to pair with ALMS.

Chip Ganassi is hoping it happens
Chip says he has been asked to provide a spare car for a Champ Car team if the unification happens, which Chip said he'd be glad to do.
Says Chip: "If they were to get back together, that's when the work would begin. It's probably like the 1994 baseball strike. The work really begins once you get all of the problems behind you."It would be nice to get all of the issues in one place."
Of course, JPM (who is in a race with Jacques Villeneuve as the least appreciative Indy winner ever) downplays it: "Is it too late? Don't know, don't care," Montoya said. "I raced there many years ago. Is it going to bring open-wheel back to greatness in America? I really doubt it."

Walker Racing has a few answers on its website
This was stealthily posted a couple of days ago. According to the release, "we believe discussions continue with the IRL and Champ Car. As long as they continue to talk it's always good news, because that means the possibility of closure is still there."

If Surfer's Paradise is dropped from the unified schedule, A1GP might take over
This race may become an A1GP race even if there is no unification ... or maybe, especially if there is no unification.
Says Aussie racing journalist Terry Murray, who joined the Surfer's chairman and Craig Gore at a "business lunch": "We're hearing that the (merger) deal between the IRL and the Champ Car series is a goer and that's certainly the best result for the Surfers Paradise race."

Turks & Caicos a go?
According to the Turks & Caicos Free Press, the IRL has signed a letter of intent to hold a race on the islands in 2009 on a yet-to-be built track ... AGR is the promoter.
The islands are located between the Bahamas & Haiti in the Caribbean. T&C is a British colony.

However, a few details seem a bit odd, as the "four-to-five-hour race" would be on ESPN, NBC and ABC. I like the enthusiasm, but not even the Indy 500 is 4 hours long, nor is it televised on three different networks.
Says TG: "This is a very exciting opportunity for us to come to the Turks and Caicos and have the opportunity to really use this as a springboard to launch our season every year. I think that the timing of a February event could be a great way to start off our season on an annual basis."

Curt Cavin has said this could potentially be some combination of "All-Star race" and preseason test, as the IRL wouldn't open its regular season that early.

You have to scroll down in this Long Beach Press-Telegram column, but the columnist airs a lot of old CC-centric dirty laundry.
Says writer Bob Keisser: "Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster will drop the ceremonial first concrete block of construction for this year's Long Beach Grand Prix on Tuesday morning. It would be really great if we could get IRL dictator Tony George in hand and make sure the good mayor drops it on his foot. "

This has nothing to do with unification, but CBS' Gregg Doyel says we shouldn't buy Danica Patrick's racing prowess. Of course, he makes the Kournikova connection ... get ready to see this more and more.

Daytona stuff: Congrats to Roger Penske
whose drivers, Ryan Newman & Kurt Busch, finished 1-2 in the Daytona 500 yesterday.
Says the Captain: "We've been open-wheel guys, and, coming down here, it's been tough. And this has got to go to the top of the charts here."

Sam Hornish Jr. ran in the Top 10 most of the day and finished 15th
Says the Captain: "Sam drove a masterful race. He's going to be a great team player. I would say that I was surprised a bit with his performance, but I was also confident when we brought Sam in to be in our third car."
Some perspectives:
Toledo Blade
The Indianapolis Star takes a look at both Sam and Dario. Says Dario, who finished 33rd: "We were conservative to start with and it went green for so long. When I got in a pack I was so loose I really couldn't hang on, so we've got to work on that. We finished, that's about all I can say. We're going to do better next time."
Florida Today also catches up with both IndyCar champs (they conveniently ignore Tony Stewart being an IndyCar Series champion).
Dario talks to Gordon Kirby about driving a stock car.

IPS news
South African Tchops Sipuka wowed many at his IPS test at Phoenix
Says Brian Stewart: "I think he did awesome. Tschops was very impressive for a guy who had never seen an oval before."

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