Toyota to follow Chevy and quit the IRL

UPDATE #2 Adding perhaps a bit more to this rumor, this SPEED TV article says, Chevrolet's announced departure from the IRL Indy Car series after this season created a buzz around the NASCAR garages at Phoenix Friday, with many wondering what could result for Chevrolet, and hence Toyota, in the respective series. Arising in reference to the Chevrolet reports were compounding reports that Toyota could withdraw from the IRL as well after 2006, perhaps as a prelude to involvement in NASCAR's primary series, Nextel Cup, by 2007. And on top of all were reports that Kevin Kalkhoven, one of the leaders of the Champ Car group — bitter rivals to Tony George's IRL, could be in line to purchase Cosworth, which has manufactured the Chevy-badged Indy engines for the past 16 months or so. That could indeed tilt the balance back in favor of Champ Car — much at the expense of the IRL — and put Toyota in a dictating position with the IRL. The ramifications are well beyond what I should be discussing, as I am not up enough on the full scope in open-wheel. However, Toyota racing chief Lee White, on hand for the Craftsman Truck race at Phoenix this weekend, indicated Toyota could not express commitment to the IRL beyond 2006, until it knows what the engine rules will be. We're committed for next year and the year after," White said Friday. "Beyond that, we don't know what the [IRL] rules are, so I can't really comment. I don't know what their plans are for the future. We don't know what the rules are, so I can't really comment. "We're concerned about cost, cost vs. return, and the business model is not what was lined up for us three years ago. I'm not going to sit here and tell you there is not concern. "Hopefully we'll be able to have discussions with them to address that. We're certainly open, and we've told them we're open, to do anything to sit down and try to help create a condition more of what we signed up for in cost vs. return." 11/05/04 A reader adds, I saw the rumor of Toyota leaving the IRL. I'm wondering if Toyota told this to Roger Penske earlier this summer provoking his attempt to unify the series with Champ Car. When I read this, it made me go "hmmmmmm." Did Roger see the writing on the wall before anyone else could see the wall? Chris Hibner Dear Chris, Everyone is saying that when Toyota starts in Nextel Cup in 2007, they will be gone from the IRL. They will put all their resources into NASCAR and Grand-Am, both owned by the France family. Tony George split the sport and caused its downfall, now we shall see what his Plan B is. Mark C. 11/05/04 Toyota is expected “to follow on the heels of GM and quit the IRL" after the ’06 season, according to Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press. The “cost of competing in the series and flat television ratings are thought" to be behind Toyota’s potential move. Toyota “likely will spend its money on a NASCAR Nextel Cup program as early as 2007. If Toyota does leave the series, Honda would be “responsible for providing engines to all IRL teams," but the “drain on resources might be too much" for Honda Detroit Free Press 11/5

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