- Associated Press - Monday, October 22, 2012

The IndyCar Series, we’ve been told three times in three weeks, is not for sale.

Maybe it’s time the Hulman-George family reconsiders that position.

No, IndyCar should not be sold to founder Tony George, who cited the conflict of interest in his recent attempt to reacquire the series in his Friday resignation from the Hulman & Co. board of directors. But if there is a buyer out there willing to step in and put an end to the drama and put the focus instead on growth, stability and IndyCar’s strong on-track product, then by all means, open the bidding.

Wasn’t it just five weeks ago that Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American to win the IndyCar title since 2006? And Chevrolet wrapped up the manufacturer championship in its first year back in the series after a six-year absence? That capped a season that saw the debut of IndyCar’s first new car in nine years, eight different on-track winners, parity down the grid and a thrilling Indianapolis 500.

It was one of the most exciting IndyCar seasons in history, and some might even argue the racing is the best on-track product in any current motorsports series.

Why isn’t anyone talking about any of that? Because every single bit of it has been overshadowed again and again by off-track nonsense.

Something has got to give in IndyCar. Now. Before it’s too late for the series to ever get any solid footing in this country again.

Formula One will be broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network _ IndyCar’s current cable partner _ beginning next season. And sports car racing in the U.S. will be under one NASCAR-owned banner in 2014 when Grand-Am and ALMS merge, and that series will also be looking for a television contract. If IndyCar doesn’t get its act together quickly, the series could be in serious danger of becoming irrelevant when it comes to advertising and sponsorship dollars, the money that fuels the sport.

Maybe the now 10 members on the Hulman & Co. board see the writing on the wall, and that’s what drove Friday’s short-notice executive meeting.

Unfortunately, as is often the case in IndyCar, it’s impossible to be sure.

George’s resignation was announced late Friday in a news release in which Hulman & Co. president and CEO Jeff Belskus said _ for a third time now _ that IndyCar is not for sale. But his wording left open the possibility that George resigned to move forward with the purchase.

“Tony George has made the difficult decision to resign from the board because of his involvement with a group that has recently expressed an interest in purchasing the Hulman & Co.-owned IndyCar organization,” Belskus said. “While the business is not for sale and no offers to sell it have been considered or are being considered, we applaud Tony’s efforts to resolve the appearance of a conflict and appreciate the gravity of this decision.”

George’s statement didn’t exactly say he was halting his quest.

“I realize that my recent efforts to explore the possibility of acquiring IndyCar represent the appearance of a conflict, and it is in everyone’s best interest that I resign,” George said. “It goes without saying that I want to do what is best for this organization.”

So while it’s possible a board furious with George’s actions gave him the option of resigning before being stripped of his seat, it’s also possible he stepped down to clean up the conflict issue so he could proceed with the purchase.

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