2001 Preseason Thoughts
SCHEDULE: Hey, 22 ... er ... 21 races! Happy, happy, joy, joy.
TESTING: So, CART gets rid of most in season testing to accommodate the expanded
schedule, and they turn Friday into a virtual open test day. Sounds like a great idea for the
teams and fans, right? Not so fast. How frenzied and stressful with the pace be on Friday as
everybody desperately tries to get up to speed? Will the result be a lot of broken cars and
PENSKE: Last year everything changed. This year, nothing changes. Why should there be?
They are back on top.
GANASSI: The opposite of Penske -- changes galore. However, this year he doesn't have
the guiding force of a levelheaded veteran to help the new guy. Instead, Chip has two rookies
looking out for themselves in what they will perceive as a cutthroat competition to make a name
for themselves and hopefully a Formula One ride. And you thought Team Green will have fireworks?
PATRICK: Quick, which team scored the most points last year? Yep, Pat Patrick, not
Penske. Expect more of the same this year.
GREEN: Tracy, Franchitti, and now Andretti?! Like Mrs. Deep Throttle says, "This is
going to be like watching figure-8 racing."
NEWMAN-HAAS: First time this team will ever compete in CART without an Andretti in the
PLAYERS: This team may make a lot of noise this year. Keep your eye on them.
NUNN: Now that Mo has his driver, will Tony Kanaan quickly become the forgotten man?
DE FERRAN: You certainly get the feeling that Gil is one guy who will never let a
championship get to his head. And that will probably make him even tougher to beat.
CASTRONEVES: Helio scored only 19 points on ovals last year. If he corrects that, he
takes over Gil's number one spot.
VASSER: Take a driver who's style is even more suited than Fernandez for Patrick's
economy run strategies, who's faster than Adrian and knows how to win, and you end up with the
man who will be holding the Vanderbilt Cup at the end of the year.
DA MATTA: It won't take too long to relegate Christian Fittipaldi back to the number two
driver on the team.
ZANARDI: Doughnuts! Doughnuts! Doughnuts!
FRANCHITTI: If Dario really still has aspirations to run F1, this is a make it or break
it season for him.
CARPENTIER, PAPIS, JOURDAIN, HERTA: Other drivers who will be having make it or break it
years. Maybe Gugelmin gets thrown in there too. In Bryan's case, we said that last year, but he
never had the opportunity either way.
TRACY: Yes, he really is maturing ... well, except for his hair. But, can he really
hold it together for two straight years? One thing's for sure, his devoted fans will continue to
have conniption fits if you dare think otherwise.
BRACK: Without a doubt, he should win his first race this year. But then, he is on Team
Rahal. Yet, Bobby won't be around.
FERNANDEZ: Adrian has always been one of the smartest drivers out there, both on and off
the track. However, it's a whole different story being an owner/driver.
SERVIA: Oriol is back. Everybody watch out!
DIXON: Can you believe this guy is only 20-years-old?
TAKAGI: Watch this guy. We may finally have a real Japanese driver.
ROOKIES: At least seven rookies. Maybe as many as nine. That's a lot, and the second,
third, and fourth races will be very telling for these guys. They will go from the tight confines
of Long Beach to the wildly fast one-and-a-half mile superspeedway of Texas to the difficult
bullring of Nazareth. It could be scary.
TOYOTA: Yeah, they proved themselves last year, but I still wonder if everybody is
jumping on their bandwagon a bit too quickly.
FORD: This could be a make it or break it year for them as well.
PHOENIX-ILMOR: Don't pooh-pooh this engine just yet.
DRIVEN: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
STAT OF THE PRESEASON: Last year, there were a total of 31 drivers who took part in the
CART FedEX Championship Series, including the 25 regulars, subs, and one off rides. At the
opening race this season, there will already be 31 drivers lining up for the green flag.
Copyright © 2001 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
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