A deal that would unify America's two open-wheel racing series under the IRL umbrella entered the final stages yesterday.
Talks have centered on a proposal in which some teams from the Champ Car World Series would blend into the Indy Racing League. The unification would become one series under the banner of the IRL's IndyCar Series, Champ Car spokesman David Higdon said.
The IRL and Champ Car issued a joint statement late last night saying the talks were ongoing and would continue into today.
"Any confirmation of unification will be made once an agreement is in place," the statement said. "Much progress has been made toward unifying the sport."
IRL spokesman Fred Nation said there are "four issues they will try to hammer out by the end of the night." He did not identify the issues, but one of them - and perhaps the biggest - is believed to be a conflict between the IRL's race at Honda-owned Motegi in Japan and Champ Car's most important event, the
The race in Japan is scheduled April 19, the day before the Long Beach event.
IRL founder Tony George and former Honda racing executive Robert Clarke flew to Japan last week in an effort to resolve the conflict.
Before George and Clarke flew to Japan, Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven said Motegi was a deal breaker.
"As long as Honda won't move Motegi, there won't be a merger," Kalkhoven said Feb. 8. "It's certainly a major hurdle, but not the only one."
Shortly after that Kalkhoven issued a statement saying Champ Car's 2008 schedule would go on as planned.