CART fights back

Six CART teams announced in Denver on Sunday that they are committed to be involved in the series next year: Fernandez, Forsythe, Newman Haas, Patrick, Rahal and Walker. However it is significant that Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Kool Green and Morris Nunn Racing have not announced their intentions. All three are expected to switch to the IRL.

CART says that the six teams will field a minimum of 18 cars. It is not clear where the teams are going to find their budgets and some of those who are committed to CART are not able to run three cars. Fernandez and Walker are planning to run IRL operations as well and we have even heard stories that Carl Haas is making contingency plans to switch to the Indy Racing League.

With Honda and Toyota both expected to start spending big bucks to promote IRL, CART's long-term future remains cloudier than ever, despite the best efforts of CART chief executive Chris Pook.

If CART cannot muster at least 18 cars there will be problems with several promoters as the race contracts use this figure as a minimum requirement. One way or the other it seems that we are finally in the end game of the drawn out CART-IRL battle. We understand that IRL has options on a variety of CART's road races if CART, including the events in Mexico and Canada and at Laguna Seca. One event which might also come up for grabs is Long Beach and we believe that if CART does stop operations an attempt would be made for F1 to do a deal to return to the streets of the California city.

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