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DATE News (chronologically)
04/07/08
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Ex-Champ Car Teams State Case
Try as they might, even the best IRL team - Team Penske- was no match for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team's Dallara Honda on this day.
Consider the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg open-wheel racing's first big Kum Ba Yah moment in the unification process between Champ Car and the IndyCar Series.

The circle is complete. No more "them" or "us."

In only the second act of open-wheel racing's unified series, former Champ Car Series teams proved themselves IndyCar compatible - at least on street courses - with last year's Champ Car rookie of the year, Graham Rahal, taking the checkered flag in Sunday's race. Four former Champ Car teams finished among the top eight.

"It shows the quality of the drivers and that the series is getting better and better," said the runner-up, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. "I didn't have any doubts, and I always said that the good teams are going to pick up very quick. ... Now we're becoming one strong series, and this is going to be huge for motor sports."

Third-place finisher Tony Kanaan was more direct.

"I think we shouldn't be comparing," the 2004 IndyCar Series champion said. "Obviously, it's big news that Graham won the race, but let's say Rahal won the race and let's forget about where they came from, where they used to race."

Certainly this weekend's results will work toward that end. But it is significant that of the eight teams that led laps Sunday, four are former Champ Car teams. Newman/Haas/Lanigan teammates Rahal (19 laps) and Justin Wilson (18 laps) led the way. Add HVM Racing driver Ernesto Viso's 12 laps out front, and those three drivers led more of the 83 laps than all the IndyCar regulars combined.

The effort provided a strong sense of vindication and a good dose of confidence considering the rough outing the former Champ Car drivers endured in last week's season opener on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. More at Tbo.com

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