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Once Again, CART Shows Their Stuff
And Shows The IRL Is Still A Lie

First. Second. Third. Fourth. Fifth.

Not even the most devout hard nosed CART fan could ever have dreamed up a scenario like that in their wildest imagination. And it's top six if you count CART entered cars.

In fact, all but one CART entered car (though Michael Andretti's entry was kind of a hybrid) each finished 200 laps while not a single IRL driver was able to go the distance. That's right, CART lapped the IRL.

Last year, we wrote the essay Game, Set, Match: The Emperor Has No Clothes after Juan Montoya creamed the field. After re-reading it, we thought, just post it again. Is there really anything new to say?

Yes, because this year's version of the Indy 500 went one step further in proving what many felt from the very beginning -- the IRL is a lie. Pure and simple.

First, just look at the numbers. In the past two years, CART teams have entered 9 cars. Seven of those cars ran the entire 200 laps, with one completing 199 laps, all without any incident. They have taken two firsts (both rookies), second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and a seventh, with Nicolas Minassian this year being the only DNF. They have led a combined total of 280 out of 400 laps. That's 70% when in those two years CART entered cars made up less than 14% of the field.

Yes, the IRL teams suffered some mechanical problems to some of their faster drivers, and that hurt their results. And that's exactly the point. The better racing teams will prepare their cars better and have drivers who are better at making their cars last -- the Andretti oxymoron not withstanding. It isn't always just bad luck.

Second, look how easy it has been for CART drivers and teams to figure out these cars. For years, we kept hearing how CART just can't step in here and win. Leo Mehl said it. Al Unser, Jr. said it. Eliseo Salazar said it. And most likely, Eddie Cheever said it, but he says so much garbage, everybody tends to ignore him.

Yet, Montoya steps in with barely any practice time, qualifies second, and completely dominates the race. The Ganassi Team starts up their own engine program, and builds flawless powerplants.

This year, Team Penske did take the benefit of running Phoenix, and Castroneves did have some problems with the Turn 1 wall in practice. Yet, despite having Ilmor start up their engine program only in February and never testing a powerplant for 500 miles, their cars and drivers performed flawlessly in the race for a one-two sweep.

The IRL cars are easier to drive and get used to. That's a fact. Don't believe it? Just look at Shigeaki Hattori for the perfect example. For the CART guys to come "down" from a turbo charged higher horsepower engine to the IRL low tech spec cars turns out to be not that difficult.

Which brings us to our third item -- the horribly pathetic performance of the IRL regulars including their "stars." If these cars are so easy for the CART regulars to step in and perform so well in, how come the drivers with the experience have all the problems?

Three of the "top" drivers, including a defending champion and the current points leader, spun out all by their lonesome selves. "The track was cold," was the excuse. Well fine, but none of the CART drives, with barely any experience in these chassis, ever had a problem. Maybe the track was miraculously warm where they placed their cars...

Sarah Fisher has "13 races under her belt." Well, combined, the CART drivers had three IRL races under their collective belts. And they didn't go pirouetting in the cold. Heck, Bruno Junqueira only had done two oval races in his life, and one of those he never got past the first lap, yet he drove a marvelously paced 500 miles to finish fifth.

Then, there is the pressure. I remember a few years back someone on Usenet, not a fan of the IRL but who continued to attend the 500, posted on how the drivers no longer were pushing it in the corners. It was as if they were simply driving through the turns instead of really racing like before the split.

Even I thought at the time that he was probably being a bit too biased and harsh. I no longer think that. It is quite evident that the IRL drivers have never had to cope with better talent, have never had to elevate their driving skills, and when they did, they went beyond their means.

For the second year in a row, Greg Ray choked under pressure. Last year, it was trying to keep up with the much faster Montoya (and don't give me this wind excuse). This year, he folded when Andretti pressured him from behind. The fact that Ray is probably the only driver in history to be involved in two crashes per race for two years in a row only makes the whole situation comical.

Robbie Buhl also folded despite running quite fast. However, he pushed it beyond his ability and spun while trying to catch up to Helio Castroneves. The IRL drivers had a rude awakening -- they were facing drivers with better talent, and they could not elevate their skills. There is a reason many of these drivers never made it in CART and had to settle for the IRL.

Like we also stated last year, there are truths that neither side wants to hear about, but must be acknowledged. However, the past two Indy 500s have shown that after six years, millions of dollars, and flushing open wheel racing down the toilet, one truth has come out loud and clear.

The IRL is a complete lie.

Copyright © 2001 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

 
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