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DATE News (chronologically)
10/31/07
irl
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Allmendinger: There must be one series

Allmendinger

Former Champ Car driver AJ Allmendinger said in an Autosport.com interview that "It's sad to see that the two series [IRL and Champ Car]  have killed each other. It's hard to say if it can ever get back to what it used to be, because NASCAR has grown so much and that's where the TV coverage is, and where the sponsors are.

"But first things first - you've gotta have one series, so you don't have to explain to the casual fan that 'Hey, I race in this series, but it's not the same as the cars racing in the Indy 500'. That, to me, was always the most painful thing.

"If you told someone you were a racecar driver, they'd ask what sort, you'd say 'Champ Car' and they'd say, 'What's that?' So you reply 'Well, it's IndyCar racing.' And they ask 'So you race the Indy 500?' Well, no. 'You race against Danica?' No - well, I did in Atlantics, but... 'So what is it?'

"That kind of confusion is why it's so tough for either Champ Car or IRL to get the casual fan back. The die-hard fans, the ones that have been into it from the start, you don't need to get them. They're there already, they'll love it through the good times and the bad.

"Champ Car have a lot of great fans. In fact, Champ Car owes their fans everything. They should have left. That's how bad it's been in terms of coverage and marketing, but the fans stuck there so all credit to their commitment and love for the series."

"Champ Cars were awesome cars to drive, the most fun cars I've ever driven and we took them to some real badass venues – Long Beach, Surfers Paradise, Toronto. They were awesome races to go to, and there is still a good potential package there – the racing and the venues are great.

"But the marketing and the sponsorship isn't there, and for that you need one series. So be it Champ Car dying and IRL taking over, or the other way round – it needs to be one series. To have all the best open-wheel drivers on this continent racing against each other, you'd hopefully get some sponsors back and get a decent TV package.

"In the long term, it would work for the standard of the series too: you'd get drivers there on merit rather than because of how much money they bring."

"I think it's pretty simple what the draw to NASCAR is – it's opportunity. Between the Cup, Busch and Trucks, you can still make a living in racing. You can go out, show your talent, get noticed and move your career forward.

"Unfortunately right now you don't have that in open-wheel racing in North America. It comes down to who has money, who can most help bring sponsorship in. People like Sam Hornish and Dario Franchitti have done everything they can do in IRL, and there's more opportunity here, and they can extend their careers."

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