Newman-Haas defecting from Champ Cars to IRL

Newman-Haas' Sebastien Bourdais at the 89th Indy 500

At several points in the last thirteen years since American open-wheel racing split, the two parties have tried to come to an agreement that would allow them to reunite, but none have yielded fruit. Carl Haas is tired of waiting, and has announced that deal or no deal, he's taking his team to the IndyCar Series by 2009.

Haas is co-owner of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, the most dominant team in Champ Cars. With Sebastien Bourdais driving, the team took the title the past four years running, for a total of eight championships – second only to Penske Racing, which also defected to the IRL in 2005. The next most successful team, Chip Ganassi Racing, moved to IndyCars in 2002.

The news is a further blow to the dying Champ Cars series, which was recently snubbed by rising star Rafa Matos who refused a $2 million grant from Champ Cars in favor of IndyCars. The major obstacle keeping the two series from rejoining has reportedly been Indy boss Tony George's insistence on controlling the combined series, but with the Champ Car World Series barely limping towards the finish line, George is rumored to have made another offer to Champ Car executives to "merge". Once Haas is gone, there may be nothing left for George to take over.

[Source: Autosport, Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty]

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