CART to drop Michigan for 2002

CART and Michigan International Speedway (MIS) have confirmed speculation that the Champ Car series will not return to race at the two-mile oval after 2001

CART to drop Michigan for 2002

The announcement was made by CART chairman and CEO Joseph Heitzler and MIS President Brett Shelton on Monday.

Michigan, along with Fontana in California, is the fastest oval on the CART schedule, with lap speeds topping the 230mph mark as a norm. But unlike Fontana, it has suffered from dramatically falling attendances in recent seasons.

"The future holds many exciting opportunities for CART and we look forward to the continued growth of our racing, both domestically and around the world," said Heitzler. "Each race we consider must make business sense for us, our shareholders and investors and our race promoter.

"In this instance, it was determined that it is in the best interest of our race series to look at other alternatives."

Michigan, like Fontana, is owned by International Speedway Corporation. But Heitzler says the dropping of the MIS date is not the start of a planned move away from ISC tracks.

"ISC is a very important CART partner and we are committed to extending our relationship to conduct our race events at ISC tracks where we believe we can achieve mutual success," said Heitzler of the organisation that owns 12 major motorsports facilities throughout the U.S.

"We have a terrific event at California Speedway which we are committed to through 2004 and will look to take our racing to other ISC facilities in the future."

Shelton said the Speedway and ISC have examined the options and believe it is in their best interest to pursue other alternatives. The track already hosts two successful NASCAR Winston Cup races and could look at adding the Indy Racing League to its roster.

"The CART races at Michigan International Speedway have provided our fans with some terrific racing over the years," said Shelton. "And although this is a difficult decision, we believe it is in the best interest of both CART and ISC's long-term growth strategies."

The Michigan 500 this coming July 22 marks the 33rd CART event at Michigan International Speedway.

"CART is an important partner of ISC's and we will continue to work together on the event at California Speedway," said ISC Sr. Vice President John Saunders. "In addition, we look forward to pursuing other significant opportunities with CART that are consistent with our long term business philosophies."

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