Toyota refuses to commit

Less than one week after Chevrolet announced that it was pulling out of the Indy Racing League at the end of 2005, rival Japanese manufacturer Toyota has also hinted that its long-term commitment to the series is also in doubt

Toyota refuses to commit

Speculation has suggested that Toyota will quit the IRL after the 2006 season - possibly as a prelude to making a full-on assault on NASCAR the following season. The company is already involved in the Craftsmen Truck category.

Speaking at that category's Phoenix event this weekend, Toyota racing chief Lee White told reporters that the company would definitely stay in the IRL until 2006 - but that nothing could be guaranteed beyond that date.

"We're committed for next year and the year after," said White. "Beyond that, we don't know what the [IRL] rules are, so I can't really comment. I don't know what their plans are for the future. We don't know what the rules are, so I can't really comment.

"We're concerned about cost, cost versus return, and the business model is not what was lined up for us three years ago. I'm not going to sit here and tell you there is not concern.

"Hopefully we'll be able to have discussions with them to address that. We're certainly open, and we've told them we're open, to do anything to sit down and try to help create a condition more of what we signed up for in cost versus return."

White indicated that Toyota's immediate NASCAR plans would still focus on the Truck programme and he dismissed any suggestions of his company joining the Busch series for 2005.

He also distanced the company from any talk that a future NASCAR programme would depend on a withdrawal from the IRL. "No, those are two completely separate things," he added.

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