Honda hints it too could leave the IRL

Honda has dominated the IRL the past two seasons and clinched its second-straight manufacturer's title in Sunday's Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. But while Robert Clarke, the general manager and vice president of Honda Motorsports, was celebrating another championship, he couldn't escape the question of whether Honda would remain with the IRL in the future?

"Well, that's probably another discussion for another time," Clarke said. "I don't want to ruin a good weekend."

Clarke has held to his comments that the automaker does not want to be the sole supplier in the IRL — that it has to have another car manufacturer to compete against. But on Sunday, he changed his stance ever so slightly.

"It's something that we have to consider," Clarke said. "Now that the direction of things seems to be more clear, it's time for Honda to consider what it's going to do. I can tell you we've been very pleased with the relationship we've had with the Indy Racing League, what we've gotten out of it today. "We're not looking to leave. I'll leave you at that." NSSN

[Editor's Note: Ultimately it will be Honda of Japan's final decision and they may decide to follow Chevy and Toyota out the door. Rest assured the team and driver subsidies will end either way because Honda will have no competition and all teams will be treated equally. We are of the belief that Clarke is saying kind things about the IRL because HPD has now been charged with being profitable by Honda and an exclusive contract to supply engines to all IRL teams would go a long way toward accomplishing that. With that said, Honda likes competition because they use it to train their engineers. Being the sole engine supplier won't accomplish that goal and HPD would become essentially a rebuild shop. The best scenario would be the one proposed by In that scenario, Honda could roll out its mothballed 2.65L CART engine, a superior engine to the noisy, eardrum breaking IRL engine, and with some common rules and cost structure, compete fairly with the current Ford/Cosworth variant in a two-league, playoff structure. Open Wheel Racing desperately needs a playoff system similar to what NASCAR created. However, apart the IRL and Champ Car are too small to do it. There is just no easy way to merge the two sides (if it were ever to happen) without a two-league structure because there are just too many differences of opinion. In a two league structure, each side gets to control their league, but with common rules we can someday see a playoff system that would benefit everyone. All sports fans like playoffs to determine the "world" champion.]

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