IRL: A much closer field for 2009


by Luc Fradette

Last year, former Champ Car teams were immediately competitive on road and street circuits but were having much more problems on ovals due in part to their lack of knowledge of the Dallara-Honda but also due to the lack of experience of some of the drivers.

But those same former Champ Car teams who transferred to the IndyCar Series last year believe they will be much stronger contenders in this year's championship.

Conquest Racing team boss Éric Bachelart is one of those who are optimistic and he truly believes the field will be much closer in 2009, now that teams such as his are fully up to speed.

"We're going to go into 2009 with a better understanding and probably even closer competition," he said. "I don't think we're going to talk about transition teams anymore, just IndyCar teams. "

Former IRL champion Dario Franchitti, who is returning to the series this year, believes the long-time IndyCar teams will have to raise their game to fend off the rising challenge from the likes of Newman/Haas/Lanigan.