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DATE News (chronologically)
06/20/08
irl
IRL's big names likely to stay put for next season  There had been talk of a major IndyCar Series driver shakeup for 2009, but that doesn't appear to be the case now.

Chip Ganassi said Dan Wheldon will remain Scott Dixon's partner, and Roger Penske said a new contract is in the works for Helio Castroneves, whose deal expires at the end of the season.

As for Ryan Briscoe, who was at the crosshairs of critics a month ago, Penske said he is pleased with the Australian who won at Milwaukee.

"With Briscoe coming on, it really gives us a good 1-2 punch," Penske said. "He's developing into a guy who can be as good as anyone.

"You can see his confidence growing in Milwaukee, and then at Texas, he had as good of a car as anybody. We haven't seen him on the road course yet; he's as good as anybody on the road courses."

Penske said Castroneves isn't thinking about being a television star or a NASCAR driver.

"He's going to be our Indy-car driver," Penske said.

Ganassi said Wheldon's interest in NASCAR was before unification came to open-wheel racing. Such talk also was before Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. started their Sprint Cup seasons, which have been difficult at best.

Asked if it should be expected that the same two drivers will return to his Indianapolis-based team next season, Ganassi said: "You could say that."

Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti are believed to be the other marquee Indy-car drivers whose contracts expire at the end of the season; Graham Rahal's team has an option on his contract.

It seems unlikely Andretti would drive for any other IndyCar team than his father's. As for Kanaan, there may not be many top-tier options if Ganassi and Penske stand pat. IndyStar.com

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