Justin and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing to compete in unified series After more than a decade of intense rivalry, Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George and owners of the Champ Car World Series agreed on 22nd February to re-unify American...
Justin and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing to compete in unified series
After more than a decade of intense rivalry, Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George and owners of the Champ Car World Series agreed on 22nd February to re-unify American open-wheel racing for 2008 and beyond. Further details of the unified series were announced yesterday to a packed news conference at the first 2008 IndyCar Series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, location of the opening race of the season on 29th March.
Newman Haas Lanigan Racing welcomed the news and confirmed their participation in the unified IndyCar Series in 2008 with Justin Wilson and team-mate Graham Rahal.
"I'm very excited about the reunification of open wheel racing and the opportunity this gives everyone for the future, including younger drivers coming up. It gives open wheel racing an opportunity to prosper again as one entity", said Justin, who will drive the No. 02 McDonalds entry for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
The transition, only a few weeks before the opening IndyCar Series race, requires a switch from the Champ Car Panoz-Cosworth to a Dallara-Honda package. A number of Champ Car events are likely to be added to the IndyCar Series' existing roster of events and a final schedule is expected in the coming days. It will include a variety of oval races, including the Indianapolis 500, as well as road courses such as Watkins Glen and street circuit events like St Petersburg, Florida.
Justin relishes the challenge, but doesn't underestimate the hard work required. "We're certainly not in the same situation, competition-wise, starting the IndyCar Series season as we would have been in Champ Car", he said. "Now that we are back to one series and we're racing on ovals and a lot of tracks I don't know, there are going to be a lot of changes. But Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing are proven winners and we will all work hard to be as competitive as possible this season. Ultimately, if we can work our way through the short term, it will be good for open wheel racing."
Newman/Haas/Lanigan co-owners Paul Newman and Carl Haas also welcomed the news. "When I heard about the reunification, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. I am very happy that we are going back to the high side", said Paul Newman.
"We have been loyal supporters of Champ Car, but one unified open-wheel series is best for our sport", said Carl Haas. "Competing in our first full IndyCar season will be one of the biggest challenges our team has faced because of the limited time frame to prepare for the season and get acclimated to the new equipment and race tracks. We have only competed in two IndyCar Series events at the Indianapolis 500 so we face a steep learning curve. It will be a difficult season, but we have many talented and dedicated employees who will work hard to keep our team competitive."