The number one seat in the Champ Car World Series - both literally and figuratively - is set to be filled at a Newman/Haas/Lanigan press conference later today [Tuesday].

In a period of turmoil for the CCWS, confirmation of Sebastien Bourdais' replacement alongside Graham Rahal will come as some welcome relief - not least because team co-owner Carl Haas last week threatened to take his outfit to the rival IndyCar Series should a compromise not be found to merge open-wheel racing in the USA.

With Bourdais having swept to four straight Champ Car titles, the #1 seat is seen as the one to have in 2008, even if the Frenchman was initially made to work for his corn in the opening half of the 2007 campaign. By the end of the season, however, Bourdais was again the class of the field and his exit for Formula One left a vacancy that many were hoping to fill.

Even before the end of racing in 2007, Britain's Justin Wilson was being touted as favourite to replace the Frenchman, but his future appears tied up with erstwhile RuSPORT owner Dan Pettit. While the closure of RuSPORT after last year's Mexico City finale initially suggested that Wilson would be free to partner Rahal - as he did last weekend at Daytona - it appears that the Briton could be more likely to wind up at Forsythe, a team in which Pettit - a former co-owner at PKV - now has a financial interest.

Into Wilson's place, meanwhile, has come Robert Doornbos, the reigning rookie of the year having been one of those to push Bourdais hard to half-time in 2007. The Dutchman made an immediate impact on Champ Car after accepting an offer from former F1 employer Paul Stoddart to join his 'new' Minardi Team USA operation, and now appears to be topping the list of contenders to line-up with NHLR next season.

Of course, with Champ Car's future hanging in the balance, there are a number of so far unemployed drivers who could be added to the list, but, with NHLR not having made any announcements regarding testing try-outs, the real contenders have to be those with proven track records, limiting the number considerably.


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