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Al Unser III inks deal with Bospoker.com

by Mark Cipolloni
 May 27, 2005

Al Unser III
Photo courtesy of IRL

Update #2:  AutoRacing1.com caught up with Al Unser III's attorney Josh Wright today to get a clarification on his situation. Mr. Wright, the CEO of Masterplan Group International co-manages Unser with Mark White of 200+ Management.

"Al does indeed have a sponsorship agreement with bospoker.com, a London based company that is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange," said Wright. "It's not really a situation whereby Al is quitting the IRL. What the fans must understand is that while other kids were driving go-karts and other junior racing series between 12 and 17 years old Al was not, so he has a lot of catching up to do.

"Al needs seat time. He does not want to become a pawn in the IRL and Champ Car war. It's simply a case of Al having a contractual relationship to fulfill with Bospoker.com. When we realized he was not going to be able to meet those obligations in the IRL we began to pursue other series. We had originally hoped that with the IRLs history with the Palms, Harrahs and other establishments there would not be an issue.

"Al loves racing ovals and road courses and is excited about driving for Bospoker.com. In about a weeks time we will have clarity and an announcement as to which series he will drive in, but yes it's true we are talking to people in the Toyota Atlantic Series and Champ Car.

"As for the other rumors that came out of the weekend, it is difficult for us to imagine that anyone at the IRL would make the ludicrous comment that a young, promising driver like Al is 'burning bridges' for the future. Al is a tremendous young man that just wants to get as much seat time as possible and learn all that he can. He wants to become a champion carrying on the next generation of the Unser tradition in motorsports."  Mark Cipolloni

UPDATE #1: Since publishing this article we learned from Toyota Atlantic officials that although they are working toward a deal with Unser and hope to have it done in time for Milwaukee, it is not a done deal yet.

In an AutoRacing1.com exclusive, we can now report that the great Unser name may be returning to Champ Car where the entire Unser family has had all its success. 

Al Unser III, son of Al Unser Jr.,  grandson of Al Unser Sr. and nephew of Bobby Unser has left the IRL's IPS series and will drive in the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Series effective immediately.

Unser will be sponsored by Bospoker.com, an online poker gambling website.

According to Unser's manager, Mark White, his client's two primary goals were landing a sponsor and getting as much seat time as possible.  White said, "The IRL in its discretion has the right to approve any sponsor in the series. For whatever reason they did not like the fact that Bospoker.com was an online gambling website, even though NASCAR and other racing series have embraced such sponsorship.

"We have a lot of respect for the Indy 500 but are confused by the IRL management.  Champ Car welcomed us with open arms and effective with the next Toyota Atlantic race in Portland, Al Unser III may be at the wheel of a Brooks & Associates Bospoker.com Atlantic car."

As we understand it, the deal may be announced next Friday in Milwaukee.

We hear that Unser's grandfather, Al Unser Sr., who is employed by the IRL, was nor enamored with the decision but understood he had to go where his sponsor wanted to be, and that's now Champ Car's Toyota Atlantic series.

Apparently the IRL was not too happy with Unser's decision to leave the series and we heard rumors of statements like "burning bridges" being made. Whether by coincidence or not, after finishing third today at Indy in the IPS Freedom 100 race, Unser was later demoted to 4th by the IRL with the explanation that Jay Drake finished a career-best third after Indy Racing League officials reviewed video replays and Timing & Scoring information of the Lap 37 restart. It was determined that the No. 3 car driven by Al Unser passed Drake's No. 20 Vision Racing car after the yellow caution flag flew.

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