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03/16/10
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Patrick's stock car stint could spell end for IndyCar  UPDATE Dear AR1.com, Can’t help notice that Dean McNulty wrote this latest gloom and doom article on the prospects of Danica Patrick leaving for NASCAR spelling the end for IndyCar.  Is this the same guy who has a long history of writing such blatantly biased and unsubstantiated articles against CART while advocating the IRL when he was I believe with the Toronto Sun?  If so, then it is one of those articles that you need to consider the source before drawing any conclusions, let alone take seriously.  For instance, Dean fails to point out that after a few years, Danica Patrick hasn’t launched IndyCar into a new level of popularity, and one star does not a series make.  Would her departure hurt IndyCar?  Obviously it would, but more important to the series in the here and now is the growing likelihood the sport of Open Wheel got a CEO who gets it, at least I hope Bronco does, as neither CART or the IRL seemed to be able to find such a person since the split.  Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI

03/16/10
If it's biggest star Danica leaves, will the IRL collapse like a house of cards?
IndyCar racing is entering its third full season following the end of the CART/Champ Car/ IRL 10-year war and all is not well.

Although the series will start 2010 with 22 cars on the grid at Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, the vast majority of those teams are held together with hope and a prayer.

At the top of the open wheel pyramid in the Western hemisphere are three teams that have dominated the podium since the great reconciliation of 2008: Penske Racing, Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport (formerly known as Andretti-Green Racing). Together they list nine cars under their respective umbrellas.

There is not a doubt in the world that each of those nine cars and drivers will start every race on IndyCar's 17-race calendar.

The same cannot be said for the rest of the grid.

Mostly the blame can be laid at the feet of [the creation of the IRL and the destructive split it caused in open wheel racing] and to a lesser extent on the brutal recession that has ripped the fun parts out of the international economy.

There is substantial blame left over, however, for those folks who have lorded over open wheel racing on this side of the Atlantic ocean for the past two generations.

What we have in IndyCar is a collection of team owners who for the most part wouldn't spend a red cent of their own money to put a race car on the track.

To those owners paying drivers doesn't mean giving a salary to the best drivers available, it means getting only those drivers who can deliver the most money to the team owner.

It makes a mockery of what is the basis for all sports : Competition among the best the sport has to offer.

What we have in IndyCar right now is a long list of drivers who can be best described as less than mediocre-- the likes of Milka Duno and Mario Romancini -- while former series winners like veteran Paul Tracy and rising star Graham Rahal remain on the outside looking in.

Then there is Danica Patrick.

Patrick, the 27-year-old native of Roscoe, Ill., is a true superstar in open wheel racing. She is to the IndyCar series what Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are collectively to the National Hockey League. Imagine the uproar if Crosby and Ovechkin signed contracts to play in Russia's Continental Hockey League.

Well that is what is happening with Patrick as she has signed a deal to race at several NASCAR Nationwide series events this season. In fact, her first three forays into NASCAR, while not so impressive on the track, have been huge success of the track with big spikes in television ratings at events where she competed.

What is both confusing and disconcerting is appearance of apathy by IndyCar officials that their brightest star is hitching her comet to another galaxy.

Patrick may indeed be, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle, but better that than no hat and no cattle at all.

Her trek over to stock car racing only reinforces the notion that IndyCar racing is little more than another development series for NASCAR.

Another huge problem that the open wheelers face in North America is the perception that even its biggest backers are taking their marbles and going home.

Tony George, who has been simultaneously deified and demonized as the person who either saved or destroyed IndyCar racing has left the building. Brantford Expositor

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