Driving Today

IndyCar Takes Two Hits

The IZOD IndyCar Series has made strides lately to climb back into prominence, but it took two upset...

We have been impressed with the efforts that the IZOD IndyCar Series has made recently to push itself up the motorsports food chain in the United States. A new car and new deals with major car companies has improved its outlook markedly. But a couple of developments last week can only be viewed as setbacks for the series.

First, Honda Motor Co. said it would cease holding the IndyCar race in Motegi, Japan, one of just two overseas races on the IndyCar schedule. Despite the fact that the global economy seems to be improving substantially, Honda, which has been a major supporter of IndyCar for years, cited the economic downturn as the reason to quit putting on the race.

Honda subsidiary Mobilityland Corporation says that this year’s Twin Ring race in Motegi, scheduled for this September, will be the last IndyCar race at the venue. The Twin Ring has a history of hosting American open-wheel racing series. Both IndyCar and CART has run there, and IndyCar has held a race there annually since 2003. The move may signal a weakening in the relationship between Honda and IndyCar.

And speaking of a weakening relationship, Danica Patrick, IndyCar’s most visible star, announced that she was upping her participation in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from four races to 12 this season. Much of the added schedule will come toward the end of the season -- when IndyCar is winding down or has ceased running for the year -- but this can’t be pleasant news for IndyCar officials who undoubtedly would like to keep Patrick closely associated with their series.

“This is going to be an exciting year in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet,” Patrick says, referring to her Nationwide car. “I have a much different perspective heading into this season. I know a little more of what to expect, and I’m not as out of my element.”

The move suggests that Patrick may try to move to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup in 2012, which would be another blow to IndyCar.



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