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DATE News (chronologically)
01/17/07
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Champ boss urges teams to set lineup  Champ Car World Series boss Steve Johnson had a blunt message for team owners yesterday: Get your drivers signed soon for the 2007 season.

Speaking during a teleconference from Las Vegas to announce Champ Car would add races in Holland and Belgium to this year's calendar, Johnson said it is frustrating not being able to have a committed lineup of teams and drivers so close to the season opener April 8.

"It does make it very difficult for us," he said. "But there is only so much we can control. I wish I could control that piece, but it's kind of out of my hands right now."

In a refreshingly frank answer to a question about drivers and teams, Johnson said time for signing drivers is now.

Several huge question marks remain for many of the circuit's teams with testing scheduled to begin next week in Sebring, Fla.

Newman/Haas Racing is fully expected to sign rising star Graham Rahal to the No. 2 team car, replacing Bruno Junqueira, who hasn't been offered a new contract yet.

Johnson said that a solution must be found to stop the annual game of musical chairs that seems to precede each Champ Car season.

"I wish I had a magic wand to fix that," he said. "I think it will be fixed eventually. It might be a case where there are just more drivers than there are teams."

He wants, however, to have the 2007 driver lineup settled sooner rather than later.

"People are in the middle of negotiating right now," Johnson said. "I kind of wish the Sebring test was tomorrow so we could get this stuff ironed out.

"I think we will see a lot of announcements next week."  Ottawa Sun

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