On February 28, 2008, the twelve-year split between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series ended. This led to the cancellation of the 2008 Champ Car season.

The reunification of the two series was not that simple. The first issue to resolve was scheduling. Originally sixteen races were planned for the 2008 season but that grew to nineteen when the Champ Car events at Long Beach, Edmonton and Australia were added to the schedule. A further complication was a conflict on the weekend of April 20. The IndyCar competitors raced at the Indy Japan 300 and Champ Car fulfilled its Long Beach obligations.

Teams would use the Dallara IR-05 chassis with the Honda engine. The Honda HR7R-HR11R used by entrants is 3.5-liter aluminum alloy V8-engine. The fuel-injected normally-aspirated motor produces 650-horsepower at 10,300-rpm. The exception to this chassis/engine combination was at Long Beach where the Champ Car teams would compete with the Panoz DP01 chassis and 2.65-liter eight-cylinder turbocharged Cosworth XFE engine. This would be the last race for the Panoz DP01 in Indy Car competition.

There were some additional newsworthy stories for the 2008 season:

  • The reunification meant there were more cars in the series. As a result, road and street course ‘knockout’ qualifying sessions were used with slower drivers being eliminated from each session - culminating in the ‘Firestone Fast Six.’
  • Qualifying on ovals was changed from a single timed lap to a four-lap average – the method used at the Indianapolis 500.
  • On the driver front – two drivers, Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish, Jr. left the series to participate in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Round eleven of the 2008 IndyCar Series was conducted at Watkins Glen International. The event was called the Camping World Indy Grand Prix of Watkins Glen. Drivers would compete for sixty- laps around the eleven turn 3.337-mile road course.

Ryan Hunter-Reay joined Indy Racing League in 2007 after competing in the rival Champ Car World Series for three seasons, where he collected two wins. 2008 would see Hunter-Reay driving the No. 17 Team Ethanol Dallara IR-05 for Rahal Letterman Racing. He qualified third fastest at Watkins Glen International. Hunter-Reay moved into the lead on lap-52 before capturing his first series victory.
After Darren Manning was dropped by Chip Ganassi Racing he found a home with A.J. Foyt Enterprises driving the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Dallara IR-05. Before Watkins Glen, Manning’s best result was an eighth place at Motegi. He qualified eighth fastest at Watkins Glen and moved into the lead on lap-39 when the leaders pitted. However, Manning could not hold off Ryan Hunter-Reay and finished second by 2.401-seconds.
Completing the rostrum at Watkins Glen was the 2004 IndyCar Series champion, Tony Kanaan. Kanaan entered round eleven fourth in the standings driving the familiar No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara IR-05. He qualified sixth but crashed in the morning warm-up. With repairs made, Kanaan ran near the front of the grid during the race. Contact between the leaders on lap-42 allowed him to inherit a third place finish.
Another driver benefitting from incident between the leaders, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, was Buddy Rice. At Watkins Glen International, Rice qualified seventeenth fastest in a field of twenty-six starters. With the drop of the Starter’s flag, he began moving the No. 15 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Dallara IR-05 up the race order. After sixty laps of competition, Rice crossed the finish line in the fourth position.
Marco Andretti was entered in the No. 26 oso*fresh Dallara IR-05 for Andretti Green Racing. Andretti entered race eleven at Watkins Glen International seventh in the championship standings with a season high second place finish in the opening round at Miami Homestead. He was gridded seventh for the start of the Camping World Indy and finished in the fifth spot which moved him to fifth in the title chase.
One of the two favourites at Watkins Glen International was Ryan Briscoe, the other was Scott Dixon. Briscoe filled the seated in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara IR-05 when Sam Hornish Jr. joined the NASCAR series. Briscoe was proving to be a good choice as he qualified on the pole at Watkins Glen. Unfortunately, Scott Dixon spun during caution period and he was hit by Briscoe. Briscoe would finish twelfth.
Scott Dixon was three for three at Watkins Glen International – three visits and three victories. Dixon, who led the points chase, started fourth in round eleven driving the No. 9 Ganassi Racing Dallara IR-05. On lap-49 Dixon spun during a caution period and was hit by Ryan Biscoe. Both cars stalled and the drivers lost valuable positions. Dixon would finish eleventh but remain on the top of the standings.
Another driver having a disappointing outing at Watkins Glen International was Justin Wilson. Newman Haas Lanigan Racing was stalwart of the CART Series. In 2008, they entered cars for Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal. Wilson drove the No. 02 McDonalds sponsored Dallara IL-05. The team was struggling to be competitive. Wilson qualified second at Watkins Glen but retired on lap-16 with a gearbox issue.

13Ryan Hunter-ReayDallara IR-05 / HondaRahal Letterman Racing60-
28Darren ManningDallara IR-05 / HondaA.J. Foyt Enterprises60-
36Tony KanaanDallara IR-05 / HondaAndretti Green Racing60-
417Buddy RiceDallara IR-05 / HondaDreyer & Reinbold Racing60-
57Marco AndrettiDallara IR-05 / HondaAndretti Green Racing60-
611Bruno JunqueiraDallara IR-05 / HondaDale Coyne Racing60-
713Mario MoraesDallara IR-05 / HondaDale Coyne Racing60-
818Graham RahalDallara IR-05 / HondaNewman Haas Lanigan Racing60-
920Hideki MutohDallara IR-05 / HondaAndretti Green Racing60-
1015E.J. VisoDallara IR-05 / HondaHVM Racing60-
114Scott DixonDallara IR-05 / HondaTarget Chip Ganassi Racing60-
121Ryan BriscoeDallara IR-05 / HondaTeam Penske60-
1319Mario DominquezDallara IR-05 / HondaPacific Coast Motorsports60-
1414Danica PatrickDallara IR-05 / HondaAndretti Green Racing60-
1512Will PowerDallara IR-05 / HondaKV Racing Technology60-
1626Hélio CastronevesDallara IR-05 / HondaTeam Penske59-
1721Ed CarpenterDallara IR-05 / HondaVision Racing59-
1823Jaime CamaraDallara IR-05 / HondaEric Bachelart Racing51Accident
1922A.J. Foyt IVDallara IR-05 / HondaVision Racing47Accident
2025Milka DunoDallara IR-05 / HondaDreyer & Reinbold Racing45Accident
2116Enrique BernoldiDallara IR-05 / HondaConquest Racing44Accident
2210Vitor MeiraDallara IR-05 / HondaPanther Racing38Accident
235Oriol ServiaDallara IR-05 / HondaKV Racing Technology38Electrical
249Dan WeldonDallara IR-05 / HondaTarget Chip Ganassi Racing19Unknown
252Justin WilsonDallara IR-05 / HondaNewman Haas Lanigan Racing16Transmission
2624Jay HowardDallara IR-05 / HondaRoth Racing15Steering

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