Chevy not returning to the IRL

UPDATE #4 A reader asks, Dear, If it turns out to be true that GM might stay in the IRL but with the Pontiac brand rather than the Chevy brand, does Honda view Pontiac as a brand they want to compete against given they expressed reservations about competing against Hyundai? Brad Givens, Minneapolis, MN Dear Brad, We found it rather curious that Honda did not want to compete against Hyundai given the market share they are gaining in the USA and given that JD Powers rated Hyundai over Honda in a recent quality review. The top of the line Hyundai cars are getting a lot of attention and you would be surprised just how good they are now. In fact Hyundai is gaining market share worldwide while Pontiac is losing it. If Honda did not want to beat Hyundai on the race track it will be curious to hear what they think they might gain beating up on Pontiac. And rest assured they will give Pontiac a beating. Penske had Toyota power these past two years and Honda smoked them. We can't see Pontiac doing any better than Toyota against Honda, and perhaps even worse. If Cosworth does the Pontiac engine, they might have a chance, but if Ilmor does it we have to wonder. Of course Ilmor helped Honda with their engines up until this year, so they have knowledge of the Honda engine, but they won't have the latest trick pieces if and when Pontiac badges the Ilmor. Mark C.

08/11/05 As we reported, Chevy will not be returning to the IRL, despite others saying they would. Now AutoWeek reports that at NASCAR's Brickyard 400 in Indy last weekend, GM Racing director Mark Kent reiterated Chevy intends to end the IRL season and withdraw. AutoWeek goes on to say don't be surprised if in a few weeks news comes that GM will stay in the IRL but switch engines to Pontiac badging. The article also says Toyota will leave the IRL at year's end. That would not surprise us even though they have a contract through next year. It would be cheaper for them to break the contract than honor it. It might explain why Foyt dropped Toyota before this year was over. 08/10/05 Chris Economaki writes in NSSN that "Panther Racing, the only IRL team currently using Chevy engines, will switch to Honda power next season — ONLY —if Chevy calls it quits as recently announced. Should the Bow Tie brigade change its mind and stick around, it is likely to be biz as usual in ’06 for Panther. A group of Chevy dealers is reportedly pitching GM to continue its IRL Chevy engine program." And who owns a bunch of Chevy dealerships? None other than Roger Penske! 07/31/05 Roger Penske confirmed he met with General Motors officials this week regarding a possible partnership in the IRL. He declined to reveal specifics of the meeting, except to say he has not signed a contract to switch from Toyota, which he has a contract with through the 2006 season. "Absolutely not," Penske said of a deal with the manufacturer. "I'm not in a position to sign anything." Indy Star [Editor's Note: As we have said, Roger Penske is the only one that can save IRL at this point by getting someone to badge the Ilmor engine. However, our sources maintain Chevy will not return. Could another GM brand badge the Ilmor engine?] 07/30/05 Despite Chevy's Joe Negri leaving the door slightly open for a possible return to the IRL under the right circumstances, is hearing through sources connected to higher-ups in the organization that a return is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Chevy and GM have decided to move on to other things.

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