DECEMBER 7, 2001
Penske jumps to IRL
ROGER PENSKE has abandoned CART and will run two cars in next year's Indy Racing League. Penske Racing is the current CART champion and the most successful team in the history of the series but the team's sponsor Marlboro wants to be at the Indianapolis 500 and cannot be if Penske races in CART. The decision has also been affected by the crumbling of CART's position in the US market and because of the CART expansion outside the United States.
The news is a major blow for CART and a huge boost for IRL which will gain considerable credibility from Penske's decision. It now remains to be seen how many other CART team owners decide to switch to IRL. Most teams will stay in CART this year but it is likely that more will switch to IRL for 2003.
This could signal the end of the divisive CART-IRL war and at the same time could open up the possibility of more Formula 1 races in the United States as IRL currently runs only on oval circuits, leaving road racing to CART. Formula 1 could move in and take one or even two of the premium CART venues if CART crumbles further. This would not be easy to negotiate as F1 is famous for demanding a lot of money but on this occasion a decent deal for the US circuits might be a wise investment for the F1 community.
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