Champ Car and IRL to Merge?
Autoweek seems to thinks so. It is reporting, as “breaking news,” that a deal is close that would effectively merge the Champ Car World Series into the Indy Racing League.
According to Autoweek, Champ Car teams have been instructed to cease work on their current Panoz chassis in anticipation of receiving Dallara chassis used by the IRL.
An official announcement is expected prior to the first IRL test of the coming season, to be held at Homestead on February 27th and 28th.
(more after the jump)
It is not known which Champ Car races would be added to the IRL series or which teams would make the switch, though it is expected that the merger would add 8 teams, at least, to the current 16 teams running the IRL series.
The merger was foreshadowed when Roger Penske returned to run the Indianapolis 500 several years ago. Penske, though behind the scenes, was one of the primary movers in the events that ultimately led to the decision by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to set up the Indy Racing League and restrict much of the field for the 500 to team that committed to that series. The move, which was in actuality a preemptive strike against Penske’s plans to muscle his way into a cut of the track’s profits, backfired on Penske and the team owners when the Speedway was able to replace its financial loss from the diminished 500 that resulted from the ensuing split by adding a hugely successful NASCAR race, the Brickyard 400 (now the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard).
If the merger actually goes through on the rumored terms, it will make Tony George, IMS president, the czar of American open wheel racing and may give the open wheel cars an opportunity to compete for fans with NASCAR, just as many of the top IRL and Champ Car drivers are looking to the Sprint Cup as their future.