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IRL plays down effect of George exit

A trio of key Indy Racing League officials insisted that it is business as usual in the IndyCar Series in the wake of last week's news that Tony George is stepping down from his posts as president of the League and of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that Jeffrey Belskus has assumed the role of president and CEO of IMS.

Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL's commercial division, Brian Barnhart, president of the IRL's competition and operations, and Charlie Morgan, president of IMS productions, held a late afternoon press conference at Watkins Glen today to offer answers to some of the questions that inevitably arose from the departure of the championship's founder.

They insisted that the management reorganisation would change very little in terms of the IndyCar Series' day to day operations or its longer-term issues, and emphasised that George had distanced himself from the operations of the League a couple of years ago when he appointed Angstadt and Barnhart as presidents of their divisions.

"Jeff Belskus is technically not the CEO [of the League] but we report to the Board through Jeff," said Angstadt. "Jeff is who we submitted our budgets to before and that will continue to be the case. As far as Tony goes, he is still on the Board of Directors, he still has an ownership position in the business and he owns a race team.

"For us not much changes. If the results are not positive, they [the Board] should make changes. But the Board has indicated to us their confidence level in us is high. Tony is still on the Board, we report to the Board and the whole [Hulman George] family is dedicated to the IRL."

In terms of the championship's current commercial performance, Angstadt said the IndyCar Series is substantially exceeding its current sponsorship and financial targets.

"We have taken on the challenge of making this a viable and sustainable entity on its own and we're well on our way to achieving that," he said.

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