:: fast in-laps ::

A place to share interesting information on auto racing, especially CART, IRL, & F1. Also welcome are any anecdotes from the club SCCA-type racing set. E-mail: ebrott -at- juno.com Pray for our troops. Read Romans 8:28.
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:: 31.5.02 ::

There is a decent article on the future of CART on the rpm.espn.com website. In my opinion, CART would do best to focus on its international aspect, and instead of trying to compete head-on with IRL, they should set their sights on F1.

It probably seems like more of a daunting task than the IRL, but look at it objectively. CART is set up with a far more even playing field than F1. This sets up the races as far more exciting than the parade and pitstop racing of the Ferrari/Williams/McLaren show. Give the U.S. oval show to Emperor Palpatine George, but book all the major street/road venues in the US. Partner with ALMS for a major road race for a Grand-Slam Motorsport Weekend somewhere like Road America or Mid-Ohio. Renegotiate with Brazil to get racing back at the Emo Fittipaldi circuit. Start up races in other South American and maybe Asian cities. Keep up racing at German and UK race courses, and promote Long Beach as CART's Monaco GP-equivalent.

And much as I hate to say this, book races through May. With a growing list of drivers from other countries, the Indy urge will subside a little. And anyone who decides to go to Indy during May will know he is putting his championship point race at risk. That alone will serve to reposition CART in a big way.

Chris Pook is a sharp guy and an experienced promoter. He must know that these are some of the big things that are nagging at him, along with the technical engine/chassis headaches. And I see he is looking to recruit from F3000 also, which is a very good move. Anyway, I'll step off the soapbox now. That was my $0.02
:: Eric 31.5.02 [+] ::
Scott Dixon has changed teams from the struggling PWR to Chip Ganassi Racing. He will race for Target along with Junqueira and Brack, giving Chip 3 Toyota/Lolas on the grid. Watch for the Kiwi driver to post some great results. Chip knows a good driver when he sees one, and Dixon's already had a win (Nazareth) and proven good on the road courses.
:: Eric 31.5.02 [+] ::
Racing this weekend:
CART: Miller Lite 250, Milwaukee Mile oval, West Allis, WI. Sunday, June 2. 12:30pm, CBS
Defending Champion: Kenny Brack. Hometown connection: Sponsor - Jimmy Vasser. Go Jeemee!! This MGD's for you!

:: Eric 31.5.02 [+] ::
:: 28.5.02 ::
Indy 500 Race Recap:

Will the CART guys dominate, like last year? It was a pretty evenly matched race this year between the two series. Of course the big controversy at the end is at the center of the CART vs. IRL debate. By the way, I was not surprised that the IRL ruled that Helio won, simply because no one wants to attend a race and go home and find a different driver was scored as winner when you got home than the one you cheered (or jeered) in the closing minutes.Will we see a repeat winner (possibly back-to-back winner?) If the appeals are unsuccessful and the ruling stands, Helio has become the first back-to-back winner since Al Unser Sr.Will Sam Hornish, Jr. prove to be the fast driver he's been much of this year? He had a really fast car that could have been considered a contender. That is until he had a brain-fade and knocked his right rear wheel into the barrier, damaging his suspension and putting him 14 laps out of contention.
Will Michael Andretti FINALLY be able to break the spell and win this race? Michael still has not won, but this weekend was the best performance he got out of that car all May. He should not be that disappointed with his finish. It was a good race.

If Sarah Fisher can run a clean race and finish, she will do well to securing her future in the IRL. Sarah Fisher had a pretty bad handling car, but she was able to keep it out of trouble and running at the end; hopefully that will translate into a ride for the balance of the IRL season.If George Mack can keep it running and out of trouble, maybe a finish would help him make up some points against some of his rivals who didn't make the show (i.e. John Herb, John DeVries, etc.) George Mack not only made the field this year, but he did an excellent job keeping it going and avoiding incidents. He should be very pleased with his performance at Indy.
If the Team Green cars can keep from taking each other out at the start, one or possibly both could post a good finish. I'm nervous that they start the race side-by-side, though. Team Green had the right hookup on Tracy's car, even though he said it handled badly in traffic. Controversial ending aside, there was a point late in the race that Dario was able to help his teammate by making things difficult for Helio and Filippe Giaffone. This little teamwork is a major reason I was shocked that Barry Green contested the finish after the post-race emotions would seem to die down.
Which veteran racer will finish highest: Raul Boesel, Arie Luyendyk, Eddie Cheever, or Al Unser, Jr.? The veterans were nothing to write home about, but how about rookie Alex Barron. He had a great finish.
How will Robby Gordon's daily double work out? Robby Gordon had one heck of a day at the Brickyard: exploding pit, evaporating fuel, a special thanks should go to Greg Ray's team for helping him out of that tough spot. I guess he was able to finish nearly all of the 600 miles in Charlotte, too, where he came up through the field and had a decent finish.
And finally, if an IRL driver doesn't win the race, will the top driver complete all 500 miles of the Indy 500? (as opposed to last year's IRL Indy 497.5). Some have inferred this to be a major reason Brian Barnhart, et. al. made a Helio favored decision. They still smart from not being able to promote the Indy 500 winner through the balance of the IRL schedule, since Juan Montoya's win a couple years ago.

:: Eric 28.5.02 [+] ::
:: 24.5.02 ::
Here it is: the Indy 500 Handicapper. It lists by starting position, the driver, car number, rookie/winner status, whether the T-car was the qualifier, the team name, and a comment on their chances for the 500. This list is for entertainment purposes only. It is biased only by my opinions and knowledge of the various drivers/teams. Author is not responsible for losses incurred when betting on results of actual race. Enjoy!

2002 Indy 500 Handicapper
Pos. Driver Team Comment
1 Bruno Junqueira (33) Target Chip Ganassi - Came in 5th last year. Showed excellent form at Montegi oval and at Indy thru practice.
2 Robbie Buhl (24) Team Purex - A fast start, consistent laps can keep him in the hunt. Stiff competition could keep him from strong finish
3 Raul Boesel (2) Team Menard - Very good team to back up veteran driver. Could have strong run with a good finish

4 Felipe Giaffone (21) Mo Nunn Racing - Has shown well thru Indy practices; Mo Nunn has capability, experience for good finish.
5 Tony Kanaan (17) r Mo Nunn Racing - Tony has performed well at super-speedways (MIS) and can probably be there at the finish.
6 Eddie Cheever (51) w Red Bull Cheever - Inifiniti power has never fared that well at Indy. Cheever’s on the short list of drivers that could change that.

7 Sam Hornish, Jr. (4) Panther Racing - Currently the strongest of the IRL contingent. If he keeps it under control for 200 laps, could win.
8 Scott Sharp (8) Delphi - Scott Sharp has the experience, equipment, and team to put him on the podium.
9 Sarah Fisher (23) Team Allegra - Needs to concentrate for full distance. Her goal is to finish; a podium is icing.

10 Tomas Scheckter (52) r Red Bull Cheever - Unreliable Infiniti + overly aggressive hot shoe = out of race early. Fast but lacks patience.
11 Robby Gordon (31) Menards - He’s his own worst enemy; even though he’s in both IRL & NASCAR, he’ll put in a great effort.
12 Al Unser, Jr. (7) w t Corteco - Another Indy win would cap a great comeback season, but it’ll be tough.

13 Helio Castroneves (3) w Team Penske - First defending champion in a long time. Has Penske behind him, so he is definitely a favorite to repeat.
14 Gil de Ferran (6) Team Penske - He’s got a great team, & experience. He and Helio can hook up, charge to the front, and vie for the win.
15 Jeff Ward (9) Target Chip Ganassi - Chip’s regular IRL driver can show his capabilities now that he has top-flight team. Could podium.

16 Laurent Redon (34) r Mi-Jack - IRL rookie had blistering practice times. But reality will set in around halfway point. Goal to finish race.
17 Rick Treadway (5) r Sprint/Kyocera/ Airlink - Treadway has all the things going for him that put Arie in victory lane. Except Arie driving. May finish.
18 Max Papis (53) r t Red Bull Cheever - Papis has shown great strength on the super ovals like MIS. Needs to keep his head in it to win/podium.

19 Jimmy Vasser (19) t Lite Team Rahal - Veteran driver w/experienced team. He’s practiced well lately. Would love to hear him say, “Got Milk?”
20 Buddy Lazier (91) w t Hemelgarn Coors - He won before, but back when a lot of his competitors were up at MIS that day. It’ll be tough, this time.
21 Kenny Brack (22) w Target Chip Ganassi - He won, then went to dominate CART’s ovals. Now he’s back & may return to form w/podium, win.

22 Richie Hearn (20) t Grill 2 Go Schmidt Motorsports - It’s been awhile since Hearn has had a competitive ride at Indy. He should focus of finishing race.
23 Billy Boat (98) CURB Records - Gambling w/weather paid off, putting him in the field. Finish will help in points battle.
24 Arie Luyendyk (55) w Meijer - He’s baaack! After Sunday, which will be more painful, hearing him in booth or struggle around track?

25 Michael Andretti (39) t Motorola Green - Can he finally achieve the win that has eluded him? Answer to this high drama can be found in his pits.
26 Alex Barron (44) r t Rayovac Blair Racing - Barron is a capable driver, but team lacks the resources to get him to a good result. Need to focus on finishing.
27 Shigeaki Hattori (12) r t EPSON - Hattori should concentrate on getting the car across the finish line. Needs to avoid incidents, mechanical troubles.

28 Dario Franchitti (27) r Team Green/ 7-Eleven - Hard to believe that Dario is a rookie at Indy. As rookies go, he has the best shot at a win or podium.
29 Paul Tracy (26) Team Green/ 7-Eleven - If he can stay out of trouble, which for Paul is a big if, then he has a great shot at a win or top five.
30 Airton Dare (14) Foyt Racing - Look at the number on the side. 14 is always Foyt’s #1 driver. Dare is A.J.’s best shot at the podium

31 Greg Ray (11) Foyt Racing - Greg Ray wants to put the last year debacle behind him. Do they have a hard-charger award in IRL?
32 George Mack (30) r 310 Racing - Made the field in the one true bump that occurred on a rain-marred bump day. To finish is his goal.
33 Mark Dismore (99) Grill 2 Go Schmidt Motorsports - Last on the grid, Dismore is capable of much more. Should finish well if team finds proper setup.

:: Eric 24.5.02 [+] ::
Sunday's race will look to be quite exciting. There are eight CART regulars in the field. There are five former winners. There a few great veteran drivers, veteran team owners contending for the Borg-Warner trophy. There are a lot of fast young drivers in the field as well. It's not really stretching the point to say that about a dozen drivers in this Indy 500 have a real, legitimate chance to win this year.

Will the CART guys dominate, like last year?
Will we see a repeat winner (possibly back-to-back winner?)
Will Sam Hornish, Jr. prove to be the fast driver he's been much of this year?
Will Michael Andretti FINALLY be able to break the spell and win this race?

These and many other questions will be answered when the green flag drops Sunday at noon. I haven't seen the weather reports, but I hope the rains will stay away and allow a nice sunny weather race from flag to flag.

If this race goes off without a hitch we can see:
If Sarah Fisher can run a clean race and finish, she will do well to securing her future in the IRL.
If George Mack can keep it running and out of trouble, maybe a finish would help him make up some points against some of his rivals who didn't make the show (i.e. John Herb, John DeVries, etc.)
If the Team Green cars can keep from taking each other out at the start, one or possibly both could post a good finish. I'm nervous that they start the race side-by-side, though.
Which veteran racer will finish highest: Raul Boesel, Arie Luyendyk, Eddie Cheever, or Al Unser, Jr.?
How will Robby Gordon's daily double work out?
And finally, if an IRL driver doesn't win the race, will the top driver complete all 500 miles of the Indy 500? (as opposed to last year's IRL Indy 497.5).

Gentlemen, and lady start your engines!!

:: Eric 24.5.02 [+] ::
Honda delivers a devastating blow to CART. Honda has teamed with Ilmor to produce IRL engines for 2003, presumably to fill the gap while they work on producing their own 3.5L V8 for the following year. On top of that, Honda has contracted to host an IRL race at their Twin Ring Montegi circuit for the next 3 years. Given the extensive help they offered teams like Barry Green's to participate, one wonders if they will be pulling a Penske next year as well. There will now be 4 engine manufacturers in the IRL, and conventional wisdom says that Lola will plan to develop a chassis for them also.

Emperor Palpatine - I mean Tony George - has stated that besides this first race outside of the US, that he is interested in adding other venues to the schedule, including a possible road course. If what we are seeing is Tony George becoming the Bill France of open-wheel racing, they had better add a couple of road courses to the schedule. Even the left-turn paraders in NASCAR have 2 road course venues on their schedule. (My prediction is one of the possible road courses would be IRL taking over the Cleveland race. They had offered to take it over in the past.)
:: Eric 24.5.02 [+] ::
:: 17.5.02 ::
UPDATE: Posted for last week. The race is this week. This is what happens when you get focused on Indy so much. Plus, I don't have my cable tv anymore. DirecTV gets installed next week.

Racing this week:
IRL: Sunday, May 26. Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Local drivers: about 1/2 to 2/3 of the field. They all have offices there.
F1: Sunday, May 26. Monaco GP, Historic Monte Carlo street circuit. Hopefully, no more appalling team-orders situations this weekend? Thanks, guys! (keep it fair, keep it fair)
:: Eric 17.5.02 [+] ::
In this week's AutoWeek magazine, there is a great article about the depth of talent in this year's Indy 500. Great reading. Can't hyperlink to it because I'm talking about the actual paper, print magazine. (There may be an online version available, but I already read it. Why would I go online to read it again?)

:: Eric 17.5.02 [+] ::
Sunday, Bump Day: Well, it's about that time. Sunday, May 19. With the rain-shortened qualifying weekend, a lot of very good drivers are still on the outside looking in. And a lot of them are surprises.

Sarah Fisher, Raul Boesel, Jeff Ward: In, in and in.
A. J.'s drivers, Dario, Tracy: not in, not in and not even close.
Michael Andretti, Billy Boat: barely in and in, but both in real danger of being bumped.

Other notable drivers who will need to pull off big improvements are Johnny Herbert, Arie Luyendyk.

John Herb, DeVries, and George Mack: it's been really nice to see you guys here at the track. I hope you can stick around to watch the race. (That's kind of unfair; I bet one of those drivers will actually make the field this year.)

Another name I hear bandied about is Memo Gidley. It just may happen that Chip will field his backup car in the race, like Bruno and Nicolas last year in the two backup Target cars. Though Junquiera just did a minor crackup in practice. They may have to dig deeper in the parts bin...
:: Eric 17.5.02 [+] ::
:: 9.5.02 ::
Prepping for Pole Day: I'm looking forward to Pole Day, Saturday, May 11. The first real excitement at the Brickyard this month. During this week in practice, much has happened already.

- PJ Jones' open-wheel comeback was short-lived. Parnelli's son did a validation & test of the new soft walls, and is out for the rest of the season with a back injury eerily similar to Jacques Lazier (whom he replaced). Let's hope he has a speedy recovery, and everything works out OK. Replacing him at the wheel of the Menard car will be Raul Boesel, who also has been away for a while. I hope he can find speed quickly. He'll have a good car and team behind him, so we shall see...

- Cheever will enter a third car, with Max Papis behind the wheel. I've seen him do great things on ovals (MIS). He can win if he keeps away from traffic (K. Brack) and minds his fuel mileage...

- Mo Nunn has his regular IRL driver, Fillipe Giaffone as well as his CART driver, Tony Kanaan entered into the race. Both of these drivers have shown their capabilities on ovals and should be strong contenders.

- Sarah Fisher will be Robbie Buhl's teammate and will take a crack at making the field. With all the talent drawn to the entry list this year, she and drivers like Jon Herb, Shigeaki Hattori, Billy Boat, will have a tough time making the field, I think.

- The last time I checked the practice, there were a few surprises: First, I was shocked to see the speed of Laurent Redon. He must have gotten a tow off another car to pull those kind of lap speeds. Second, it looks as though "rookie" Jonny Herbert will do pretty well, provided his equipment holds up. Third, the Kool (I mean, 7-11) Green cars are having trouble sorting out setups. It's hard to think about this, but Tracy hasn't been in Indy for a long time, and this is Dario's first time. I dare say they may also be sweating it when Bump Day arrives.
:: Eric 9.5.02 [+] ::

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