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Uncensored CART Commentary
by Ed Donath

Big Rebates + Low APR Financing
7/13/02

“Hello again racing fans…Todd Wickerbill here welcoming you to Way Behind the Scenes in CART. Incredibly, yet another FedEx Championship Series record has been broken. CART’s so-called Silly Season has officially begun — months earlier than ever before — while the ’02 racing schedule hasn’t even reached its halfway point yet.

To date, most of the speculation has revolved around the 2003 team-ownership plans of Indy/Champ Car racing patriarch 62-year-old Mario Andretti…and his rapidly aging son, Michael. We’re very pleased to have the AP ’s international open-wheel racing reporter and EuroRadio CART play-by-play announcer Nigel Bargeboard here with us tonight for a briefing on this breaking story. Good to see you again, Nige.”

“Likewise, it’s jolly good to be back in the colonies with you, Todd.”

“Please tell us, Nigel, what you’ve learned about the Andrettis’ team ownership plans.”

“Well, Todd, last week Mario told me he thinks that — and I quote him — ‘It would serve CART best if we would add another car, rather than me just joining the [Newman-Haas] team. We would run three cars. The next step is to see whether it's for real, see if somebody might come forward as a sponsor. It's the time of year when companies are putting together their budgets and making decisions for next year and there are a couple of possibilities right now, some people we could approach.’

Thus, Todd, it certainly sounds as if Newman-Haas-Andretti Racing is to be a three-car team that will compete exclusively in the FedEx Championship Series. Therefore, IF Michael Andretti opts to leave CART for the IRL to pursue the quest of achieving the only major open-wheel prize that has, thus far, eluded him — the winning of the Indianapolis 500 — then the third N-H-A car would replace the third Green Brothers Champ Car…the one that is currently occupied by Michael.”

“The status quo would, at least, be maintained in that case, Nigel. Naturally, Mario’s new car would go right on the Top-20 list to qualify for the incentives that CART CEO Chris Pook has recently put in place. That, incidentally, makes it easier than ever before for Mario to begin his CART car ownership program…almost like getting a big rebate or low financing at a dealership!

Also, Nigel, everyone including Mario Andretti has been bemoaning the fact that the series' car counts have shrunk from an average of 26 Champ Cars last season to the current 18-car fields.”

“Well, as you would expect from the outspoken elder Andretti, he has made an assessment of his own regarding the deplorable car count issue. Again, Todd, I quote Mario:

‘I remember when Formula One was down to 14 cars. I feel very strongly about the product CART turns out, and I would be happy to be part of its future. I think Pook is doing a fabulous job, considering he has to keep putting fires out. I think it's just like the economy and, sooner or later, it's going to turn around.’

So, Todd, the remaining Silly Season speculations will likely shift to questions about sponsorship for Mario’s car and, of course, who he will ultimately choose for its driver.”

“Well said, Nigel. Let’s take some calls on the FanFone before we go to our first commercial break. Jimmy in Las Vegas…you’re live on the air with Nigel Bargeboard and Todd Wickerbill…”

“That Napa Valley connection of Mario’s — in this case it would be the perfect sponsor tie-in. Call it the Andretti Whine-ery Lola-Cosworth. The name works even if Mikey decides to ditch his IRL plan and team-up with Dad.”

“Paul of Toronto…you’re next on the FanFone…”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see John or even Jeff Andretti make a CART comeback in Mario’s car — or Mikey’s for that matter — as an Indy 500 one-off. The whole Andretti clan is suddenly in a position to take over as the premier IRL family since Little Al got himself in hot water, and the Unsers are no longer a united Indy family. Also, I’m sure that if Michael had an IRL team it would be far easier for Mario’s grandson to break into open-wheel racing than it would be in CART.”

“Good points, Paul. Charlene from Omaha…what do you think?”

“I think it’s time for a revival of that old Mario Brothers video game, Todd. That would be the perfect side pod sponsor for Andretti’s car.”

“Good one Charlene. Hey folks — don’t even think about touching those remotes ‘cause Way Behind be right back after a splash-and-go…”

Copyright © 2002 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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