Newman/Haas withdraws from IndyCar
INDIANAPOLIS - Newman/Haas Racing, one of most successful teams in the history of Indy car racing, announced its withdrawal from the IndyCar Series on Thursday.
"The economic climate no longer enables Newman/Haas Racing to participate in open wheel racing at this time," Carl Haas, the team's owner and co-founder, said in a statement.
Newman/Haas Racing won 107 Indy car races from 1983-2011, a total that ranks second only to Penske Racing's 159 victories since 1971. Chip Ganassi Racing has earned 86 race wins since 1994.
"Newman-Haas Racing is a first-class organization that has left an indelible mark on our sport," series officials said in a statement. "We will miss having them at the track next season."
Haas teamed up with actor and fellow SCCA Can-Am series team owner Paul Newman, forming Newman/Haas to enter the CART-sanctioned IndyCar World Series in 1983 with Mario Andretti as the driver. Andretti won the 1984 CART championship.
The team enjoyed its most successful era from 1989-92 when it expanded to two cars and Mario Andretti was teamed with his son, Michael.
The younger Andretti won the 1991 CART title, and Newman/Haas won additional championships with drivers Nigel Mansell (CART, 1993), Cristiano da Matta (CART, 2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car World Series, 2004-07).
Newman/Haas was one of the last teams to remain faithful to CART/Champ Car, but it scored IndyCar-sanctioned race wins with drivers Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson in 2008. During its final season in the IndyCar Series, NHR fielded cars for Oriol Servia, who finished fourth in the championship, and Rookie of the Year James Hinchcliffe.
Like many teams, Newman/Haas struggled to find sponsorship in recent years. That challenge increased after Newman's death in 2008. A partnership with businessman Mike Lanigan ended after two years.
Meanwhile, Carl Haas has experienced deteriorating health and was unable to attend races in the last two years. His wife Bernadette has largely been responsible for the executive management of the team in recent years.
The IndyCar Series is introducing a new chassis and engine package in 2012 that is exepected to ultimately prove less expensive for competitors. But the new package requires an initial investment of about $3 million for chassis and spare parts.
John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.