IndyCar at crossroads

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

It wasn't supposed to work like this. The Indy Racing League, when it merged/took over the Champ Car World Series in 2008, should have emerged all shiny and new with a bright and financially secure future.

Then along came the great stock market implosion and all of a sudden what seemed so rosy only eight months before appeared not so jolly and good.

But at the top of the IRL was Tony George and, love him or hate him, his singular strength was that his fingerprints were all over the newly merged series and he wasn't about to see it go down without a fight.

What he didn't count on was his three sisters ganging up with his mother to take control of the Hulman George fortune that included the cash-cow Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IRL.

So as IndyCar racing prepares for the Canadian leg of its 2009 schedule, there are all kinds of guessing games going on about its very future and who will lead it now that George is pretty much out of the picture.

The good thing is that the Honda Indy Toronto looks as though it will resume its status as a cornerstone stop for the series and Rexall Edmonton Indy already has proven to be a fan, if not financial, winner.

After that it remains to be seen how long the new bosses in Indianapolis will keep pouring good money from IMS to prop up the IRL.

Just a week ago at the Campers World Grand Prix at the Glen, it was reminiscent of the bad times of five years ago when there were far more empty seats than full ones at IRL events.

Many more venues like that and it is certain that Mari Hulman George and her daughters Josie, Nancy and Kathi will be reluctant to keep writing the cheques.

Earnhardt Ganassi woes

The news keeps getting worse for Teresa Earnhardt.

During the past two seasons she has overseen the loss of stepson Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin to Hendrick Motorsports and had to take on Chip Ganassi as a partner to prop up what was once the go-to team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

With Ganassi she got Juan Pablo Montoya, who is close, but hardly a threat to challenge for a championship.

Now this week she has lost the lone star left in the garage -- Martin Truex Jr.

The two-time Nationwide series champion will take his race seat to Michael Waltrip Racing next season with NAPA Auto Parts as a sponsor.

The 29-year-old driver from Mayetta, N.J., has four full seasons competing in NASCAR's premier division.

He has produced two poles, one victory, 12 top-five and 34 top-10 finishes. Most importantly, Truex has not finished lower than 19th in the Sprint Cup championship points standings.

"I am looking forward to this new chapter in my career with Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota," Truex said in a statement. "This team has grown tremendously in the past two years, and has proven they have the ability to be competitive week in and week out. I am excited to see what we can do together with NAPA as our sponsor."

Ecclestone should go

The more he opens his mouth the deeper the hole Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone digs for himself, and unfortunately for all of F-1 racing as well.

The series had barely recovered from the grotesquely, sad image of FIA boss Max Mosley cavorting about with prostitutes in a Nazi-themed porn party, when Ecclestone, who controls the commercial arm of F-1, pops off that Adolf Hitler maybe wasn't such a bad guy after all. He conveniently leaves out the part about six million Jews dying in the Holocaust.

When the spit hits the fan the pint-sized Brit pulls out that most outlandish and bigoted statement to cover his tracks: "Most of my mates are Jewish people."

Shame on you Bernie. Thankfully Canada was spared his presence this season and until he and Mosley are gone F-1 should not be welcomed back to our shores.

Finish lines

Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth and his wife Katie welcomed a daughter --their first --Kaylin Nicola Kenseth this week ... Aric Almirola, who was taken out of the No. 8 EGR Chevrolet earlier this season when sponsorship could not be found, is rumoured to be on his way back, maybe in the No. 1 Chevrolet ... F-1's Red Bull Racing team is said to be considering severing its ties with Renault after this season and switching to Mercedes to power their two race cars.

Quote of the week

"This is a balls-to-the-wall circuit, and she did a damn good job today." Paul Tracy, praising Danica Patrick's effort at the Watkins Glen IRL race.

Canadian corner

Former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve will be back on a racetrack this week in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at the half-mile oval at Ste. Eustache, Que., in a Ford prepared by Dave Jacombs Racing.

Villeneuve is also scheduled to race at the NASCAR Nationwide series NAPA 200 in Montreal next month.

Stats of the week

Sprint Cup results for first half of 2009:

- 8 different Coors Light Pole winners

- 34 drivers with at least one top-10 finish

- 40 drivers have led at least one lap

- Average Margin of Victory of 1.044 seconds

- Average of 11 leaders per race

- Average of 20 lead changes per race


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