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INDYCAR NEWS 

Cleveland, Houston aim for '09 dates

The start of the 2007 Cleveland Champ Car raceThe promoter of the Houston and Cleveland Champ Car events is confident that both tracks will be accommodated on future IndyCar calendars even though they will miss out on the first year of the newly-unified series.

Of the 14 circuits on the provisional 2008 Champ Car World Series calendar, only Long Beach, Edmonton and Surfers Paradise are likely to be incorporated into this season's IRL IndyCar Series schedule following the merger.

But Houston and Cleveland organiser Mike Lanigan, who also co-owns leading team Newman/Haas/Lanigan, said he had already begun discussions about 2009 IndyCar dates at his venues.

"We were surprised and disappointed by today's announcement, but as stakeholders and fans of open-wheel racing we are pleased that there is now one unified open-wheel racing series in the United States," said Lanigan in a statement.

"Due to the complicated and last-minute nature of this merger, the Cleveland date could not be accommodated for 2008.

"However, I had a very encouraging conversation with Tony George today and we are excited about the prospect of bringing this new series to Cleveland in 2009."

Lanigan issued a separate statement to confirm that he had also discussed Houston's future with George and was similarly optimistic about its 2009 prospects.

The Texan street track is still set to host the American Le Mans Series this season, as it was one of three tracks where the sportscar championship planned to share a bill with Champ Car.

ALMS chief operating officer Tim Mayer welcomed the merger announcement and confirmed that his series would press ahead with its full schedule.

"Many details have yet to be worked out, so it is simply too soon to know all of these answers, and we do not think it is productive to speculate," he said.

"However, we believe that it will affect our participation in the events very little. We have run successful events at many of these venues with and without the open wheel series. We are currently working on the promotion of all twelve of our events, and will continue to do so."

In addition to the Houston double-bill, the ALMS was also set to run alongside Champ Car at Long Beach and Elkhart Lake.

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