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Manning Vows US Return

Darren Manning has vowed to secure a top-level Champ Car or Indy Racing League drive next season after being fired by Chip Ganassi Racing

The 29 year-old was let go by the former champions yesterday after one and a half years with the team, and will not be replaced for this weekend's Michigan round.

In an interview with Autosport-Atlas, Manning said he has no need to take a low level drive for the remainder of the season, and will instead focus on returning to IRL or Champ Car, where he drove in 2003.

"I haven't become a terrible driver overnight," Manning said. "Chip signed me for a reason, I was a Formula One test driver for a reason and I'm still around racing for a reason.

"I'm looking at IRL and Champ Car primarily because, like I've always said, this is where I want in US open wheel racing. It's got to be a top-level drive. That's why I came to Ganassi, because I thought they were going to give me an opportunity to win.

"No-one has given me a call yet, but it's mid-season so there is nothing I can really do for the rest of this year. I'm not desperate for the rest of this season. I want to be in chance to win races for next year.

"All the teams will pretty much know who I am. I've made a name for myself on the American scene. I don't need to do anything on a low level anymore. I don't need to get a ride for a rides' sake now. I'm working towards a top-level drive in IRL or Champ Car for '06 or something on the world scene."

Manning admitted he was surprised that he had been dropped by the team and didn't know the reasons why.

"I don't think I'll ever know," Manning added. "It has been intimated to all drivers that we couldn't afford to keep crashing like we've been doing. I've had a couple of crashes, Ryan [Briscoe] has had a lot and Scott [Dixon] has had a couple. But altogether, it can't be cheap.

"Unfortunately for a driver, you are the one who gets all the glory, and we try and give us much as we can to other drivers but it's our faces on the front of the magazines and lifting the trophy. So the buck stops with us.

"Unfortunately Chip needed to make changes and I was in the wrong place in the wrong time, and I don't know if I was in the weakest position of the three drivers - but obviously I was for whatever reason."

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