Edmonton GP survives

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

There will be an IndyCar race in Canada this season and it will be in Edmonton, but it's the when that has to be decided.

Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George -- at a news conference at Miami Homestead Speedway to make it official that there would be only one open-wheel series at the top level in North America in 2008 and it would be his -- said yesterday only the Edmonton Grand Prix would survive in his series for the time being.

George also made official what race fans in Canada had long since accepted -- the 23-year reign of the Grand Prix of Toronto as the city's biggest annual sports event is over.

An end to Champ Car's much shorter history in Montreal also was confirmed.

George, however, took great pains to explain the importance of keeping Toronto, with its rich racing legacy, in the loop likely as soon as the 2009 season.

"What's going to be key is not to disenfranchise anybody so all the best opportunities remain out there for us," George said. "Toronto is an event that was discussed. It had a date conflict (with Watkins Glen), obviously. It falls into the category of one of those events that you don't want to disenfranchise someone with that much history.

"But, you know, Edmonton was a little bit easier to address because we had an available window approximately the same time they were going to run their race this year (July 18-20). That seemed to make sense. Montreal, you know, I don't know."

So there you have it.

It was somewhat disquieting, however, that Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven sat beside George on the dais at Homestead without once venturing a word about any of the three Canadian races that, in fact, were key to the series not going belly up four years ago when Molson -- then the primary supporter of open-wheel racing in this country with Player's -- backed his and Gerry Forsythe's plan to start the series with CART in bankruptcy.

If fans are wondering just how almost 13 years of bitter back-biting that all but killed all of open-wheel racing in North America got fixed, the answer turned out to be both remarkably and damningly simple.

"It was just a realization that, quite honestly, open- wheel sport, open-wheel motor racing in the United States, just wasn't going anywhere," Kalkhoven said. "If we were to have an opportunity to develop it for the future, we should take that opportunity. Tony held out an olive branch, and Gerry and myself and my partners decided it was the right thing to do."

BUSCH SHOWS UP JUNIOR

There must be moments when he is behind closed doors at his mammoth Hendrick Motorsports complex in Concord, N.C., when Rick Hendrick takes a second look at what Kyle Busch is doing at Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 18 Toyota so far this season and wonders who got the better of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. deal.

Okay, it's only three weeks into the 2008 season but Busch -- who was sacrificed so there would be room at HMS for Junior -- is showing clear signs that this could be his year to challenge for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Busch leads the Cup standings going into Las Vegas and is in second place in the Nationwide Series and in first place in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Doesn't that sound like a man -- well he is 22-years-old now -- who wants to rub his former owner's nose in it a little bit?

And then there's Earnhardt, who after crashing at California is buried back in 23rd place in the No. 88 Chevrolet, 149 points back of Busch.

Earnhardt has a poor history at Las Vegas but should do better Sunday in a Hendrick Chevrolet, but this, remember is Busch's home track.

NASCAR bosses must be licking their lips at the prospect of a season-long duel between these two.


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