Feud ends in open-wheel racing

Feb. 22, 2008 at 10:31 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A 12-year feud that split American open-wheel auto racing into two camps ended Friday.

Officials of the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series signed an agreement in principle to merge the two series -- bringing an end to a battle that helped elevate NASCAR and its stock car series into the forefront of auto racing in the United States.

A group of owners and drivers bolted from the IndyCar Series a dozen years ago to form the IRL. From that time both series struggled for attention, sponsors and quality drivers.

The Indianapolis 500, once the premier auto race in the country, also lost ground on the sporting calendar.

During this winter, the Champ Car Series saw four-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais jump to Formula One. The IndyCar Series lost its defending champion Dario Franchitti to NASCAR.

"This is a great day for open-wheel racing and one that I and my Rahal Letterman Racing team have looked forward to for a long time," said Bobby Rahal, three-time IndyCar champion. "I truly believe that this is the first step toward restoring open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 to not only where it once was, but beyond."

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