Penske predicts end to US racing rift

One of the most influential team owners in American racing, Roger Penske, has predicted an end to the split in open-wheel racing in the near future, but stopped short of indicating precisely what might happen

Penske predicts end to US racing rift

During a break in practice today (Tuesday) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Penske said the dispute between the Indy Racing League and CART could end within the next year or two.

"Within the next 12 to 24 months, we'll see this thing shake out," said Penske. "Economics will play a part in that. CART has made a decision to support a lot of their teams and track promoters. People eventually will say, 'Hey, do we have enough money to continue doing that?' If that isn't there, what happens?"

Penske moved Marlboro Team Penske from CART to the IRL following the 2001 season, marking a major shift in power in the ongoing dispute. Tony George, owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, formed the IRL in 1996, largely to wrest control of the sport from powerful team owners.

CART teams, including Penske's, stayed away from the Indy 500 for several years. In recent years, though, they've begun to return to the race. Some of the larger teams, like Penske, Target Chip Ganassi, Team Rahal and Mo Nunn Racing, have made the transition from CART to the IRL in the recent years.

"CART has done some positive things, but at the end of the day, we've got this place here," Penske said of the speedway. "You've got 400,000 seats. If you've got 390,000 show up, you can't really call the event a disaster."

While rumours abound that the IRL will soon abandon its ovals-only format and add road and street courses, Penske said the series needs to drop some ovals from its schedule before it pursues road racing.

"We don't need to run 21 or 22 races," Penske said. "The IRL is going to have to make the decision as to whether they'll reduce the number of races (to accommodate road racing). I think they're saying, 'We've had tracks support us from the initial stages. Why would we walk away from them?'"

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