IndyCar should forget Europe

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:56 PM ET

The news this week that the IZOD IndyCar Series is, once again, casting a coveted glance at European expansion comes as a shock.

Series boss Randy Bernard, in an interview with the Indianapolis Business Journal, suggested that after he nails down new North American races at Chicagoland Speedway and a street race in Houston, IndyCar would "love" to check out holding events in Europe.

"In the next five years, I think you'll see the IndyCar Series reach more international markets," Bernard said. "I'd love to see us do the oval in Germany."

That would be the same circuit -- EuroSpeedway Lausitz -- that failed miserably as a CART/Champ Car event more than a decade ago.

The lessons of history are clear: For IndyCar to reclaim its former glory it must stick to the things it does best and that is be a success in its own back yard.

It is coming off a race in Toronto that broke television ratings records in Canada and was the top-rated IndyCar race in 56 U.S. markets.

The buzz from that race should propel this week's Edmonton Indy in the same direction.

To start talk now about expansion to a European market that is showing signs of economic collapse is just plain nonsensical.

CANADIAN TIRE SERIES GOES WEST

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series heads west this week for races in Vernon, B.C., and Saskatoon.

And series championship points leader Scott Steckly is licking his chops at the prospect of getting back to short track racing.

In four starts at Vernon's Motolex Speedway, Steckly has one win and three second-place finishes on the half-mile tri-oval and at last season's inaugural race at Saskatoon's Auto Clearing Motor Speedway he finished fourth.

It will be a tough grind for drivers, however, with the Vernon race on Saturday followed by the Saskatoon date just four days later.

Steckly won't mind the tight schedule as he fully expects to pad his championship lead at Vernon, a track he clearly loves.

"It's a great track to race," he said. "The surface is good. The lights are good. There's little to not like."

ALLMENDINGER GETS NEW CREW CHIEF

A.J. Allmendinger is still looking for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win after five seasons in the world's top stock car racing loop.

This week Allmendinger fired the crew chief for his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford team in an effort to get that elusive first victory.

Allmendinger will replace Mike Shiplett with Greg Erwin on top of the pit box starting next week at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Erwin, who had lost his job last week with the No. 16 Roush Fenway racing Ford of Greg Biffle, knows his way around the RPM Fords.

All the cars and engines at RPM come from Roush Fenway shop in Concord, N.C.

"Mike and I have been together for a long time, so from a personal standpoint this is difficult for me," Allmendinger said in a team release. "We've worked really well together, and I think our personalities really complemented each other. Mike and I both came into this year really committed to working on our weaker areas.

"I know we both tried our best to be better and communicate better. I couldn't have asked for either of us to try any harder. Sometimes though, you need to take a step back and have a new perspective or new set of eyes look at things to move to the next level."

Allmendinger and Shiplett have been a tandem for the past two-plus seasons, but in spite of some improvement both in the shop and on the track, the 29-year-old former open wheel racer has not been able to crack the top 10 in Sprint Cup.

And it is not like he hasn't won before.

Allmendinger has five Champ Car World Series wins including one in Toronto and a pole position at the Edmonton Indy.

Erwin comes with a resume that has five Cup victories with Biffle and the Roush squad.


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