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CART




Wednesday, June 12
Updated: June 13, 7:43 PM ET
CART through appeasing IRL
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Championship Auto Racing Teams is keeping its turbocharged engines and making it clear the open-wheel series is through trying to appease the rival Indy Racing League.

''They've made it abundantly clear to us that they don't want any of our rules to mirror their rules, so we're back to what we do best,'' CART president Chris Pook said Thursday as the series prepared for Sunday's G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway.

A day earlier, CART confirmed it had reversed a decision it made last fall and would retain its turbocharged engine rules, with a single manufacturer supplying power plants to the entire series next season.

Both Toyota and Honda will leave CART for the IRL after this season. The rival engine-makers made their decision last October, when CART announced it would switch from the 2.65-liter turbos to normally aspirated motors similar to the ones used in IRL.

With the Indy 500 as its centerpiece, the all-oval IRL has outgrown CART in popularity since it began competition in 1996. CART, which runs on a mixture of ovals and road/street courses, lost powerful team owner Roger Penske to the IRL and watched its car count fall from as many as 28 last year to as few as 19 in the first five races of this season. By changing to non-turbo engines, CART was hoping to compete in some of the IRL's races, notably Indy.

In recent weeks, however, Pook has adopted a more hardline strategy, portraying the IRL as the enemy in a bitter fight for the attention of a dwindling number of open-wheel racing fans.

''I'm tired of holding out an olive branch,'' Pook said last weekend in Monterey, Calif. ''We tried to be compatible with the other series by changing our engines and chassis, and they summarily rejected it. So now we'll go about it our own way.

''I mean, why should we destroy our quality of racing for someone else? They are trying to destroy us.''

CART fans consider the series more ''pure'' than the IRL because it runs on a variety of circuits, including the more technically difficult road courses. CART's drivers, the vast majority of whom are foreign, also are considered more skilled.

On Thursday, Pook played down the rivalry with the IRL, saying the decision to stick with its engine type will help CART reclaim control over its own destiny.

''We're going back to managing our company,'' he said. ''Our company, over the last two months, has been managed by others, for their own benefits and their own goals and objectives.

''Now we're going to manage our company where we want it managed, and where the board of directors wants it managed, and where the shareholders want it managed.''

Ford's Cosworth Racing unit is expected to get the contract to build engines for CART. Pook said he probably will identify the manufacturer this weekend.

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