The IndyCar Series will claim another NASCAR scalp for 2009, albeit on a lesser scale than that of Dario Franchitti, when sometime Nationwide Series runner Stanton Barrett makes the jump to open-wheel racing with Team 3G.
Stock car journeyman Barrett will link up with occasional IndyCar entrant Greg Beck and sports marketing expert Steve Sudler to drive the familiar #98 Curb/Agajanian-backed Dallara-Honda next season, making the switch to open-wheel racing after a 15-year career spent chasing NASCAR honours without success to capitalise on the renewed vigour of the unified IndyCar Series.
"I am thrilled to be joining Team 3G and the IndyCar Series in 2009," Barrett told indycar.com
, "I feel the time is right to move to the IndyCar Series. They have a lot of momentum, and I think they will continue to grow in popularity with fans and corporate marketers."
The imminent arrival of Beck and Sudler's team was rumoured at the championship finale at Chicagoland earlier this month, but only became concrete with a formal announcement at Kansas Speedway - where Stanton competes in the Nationwide Series - this week. Team 3G - allegedly standing for 'Three Guys' in deference to the ownership - has hinted that its interest may also spread beyond the senior series into Indy Lights, but there was no mention of that programme for now.
"Stanton will integrate nicely with the IndyCar Series competition," Beck insisted, "He has plenty of oval experience from driving in NASCAR, and has road racing experience from early in his career.
"[Sudler] was looking to get more involved in a business that would grow. He knew our weak point was the marketing side of it, and we started out [realising] that the two of us working together would be better than either one of us trying to work alone. He's handling the marketing side of it and I'm basically handling the competition side.
"It certainly re-energizes our efforts. We've always been here and trying to work at it but, with Steve being here, it's been a big boost because he has so many connections. We're just so much further ahead than we ever have been in the year for next year."
Barrett, whose father Stan helped launch the Skoal Bandit NASCAR programme, has attempted to run the Indianapolis 500 in recent seasons, but the 25-year old will now get his best chance after linking up with Beck and Sudler, even though the Beck/Agajanian team failed to make the cut for this year's race with Roger Yasukawa.
"With Stanton coming on board, it gives us some components from a driver aspect that are fairly unique," Beck admitted, referring to his driver's aim to continue contesting Nationwide Series events when his IRL commitments permit, "We're excited about being able to announce something this early to run the full season, and it gives us some opportunities from now to the end of the year, even through Stanton's Nationwide programme, to entice some additional sponsorship. It really gives us some concrete things to work on between now and the beginning of the season."