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2002 Postseason Thoughts

CHAMPIONSHIP: Everyone, including moi, was worried that the racing would be less exciting with so few cars competing. That was not the problem. The problem was lack of passing. 2003 has got to correct that.

TRACKS: There has got to be a better accounting for some of the new tracks. The locations were great, but the track conditions were abysmal. There is no excuse in such a high quality series. Montreal and Mexico City were great. Miami and Denver were not.

DA MATTA: The CART championship really wasn't much of a contest this year. The reason – it was da year of da Matta. Congratulations, Cris. He excelled at every type of track, but he was a revelation at both Laguna Seca and Road America. Our choice for Racer of the Year amongst all series that we cover, and even those we don't.

JUNQUEIRA: A lot of abuse had been heaped on Bruno in 2001. Some from yours truly. However, he has really come into his own this year with a combination of guts, strong race finishes, and determination to overcome adversity. Our early pick for 2003 CART champion, Deana's brother deserves his new first seat at Newman-Haas.

CARPENTIER: One more time – just why is it that Patrick's results get so much better when his racing career is on the line? And how does that bode well for 2003 now that he has a two-year contract?

FRANCHITTI: You'd think with his tremendous talent, good looks, movie star wife, and charm to beat the band, that Dario would have everything going his way. But nooo, the Italian Scot could not buy a break this year when it came to his pit crew, a group that cost him race after race, and ultimately, the Championship.

FITTIPALDI: As we said last year, in fact for many years, let's face the truth. Yes, Christian is a decent driver who can get some results, but if his surname wasn't Fittipaldi, would he still have quality rides? We say no to the most overrated driver for all those years – as this Fittipaldi goes over to NASCAR.

BRACK: He came close to winning the Vanderbilt Cup in 2001, and was not really a factor in 2002 with Ganassi. It was a bad match from the beginning between the cool Swede and the hot tempered Chip – and it showed all season long. Kenny wins Most Disappointing Season honors.

VASSER: Jimmy had a spotty season, no thanks to being used as everyone else's battering ram, but his win at Fontana clearly showed that he's still a competitor of the highest grade.

TAGLIANI: Which Canadian racer is expected to take a win every year, yet always ends up coming up a bit short? Alex needs to re-tool and re-think in order to avoid becoming someone who never lives up to his potential.

ANDRETTI: Michael finished a disappointing 9th in the points, but this does not reflect how strong he was in the latter part of the season. Michael's CART swan song was cleverly played as a “retirement” by CART, ignoring the fact that he has drunk the Kool-Aid and is now aligned with Prince of Darkness, Tony George.

JOURDAIN: Yep, we all thought of him as just another rent-a-ride. However, Jourdain scored points in almost every race, and more importantly, came into his own this year. Perhaps it was the team.

TRACY: He emerged as a series star and a sort of twisted elder statesman this year. Always a factor, 2002 was the year of Tracy DNF’s. May have been a victim of Team Kool Green sabotage – no question a victim of Tony George's sabotage – we'll find out next year when he goes racing with his countrymen at Team Players.

KANAAN: Receives the Tough Luck award. Tony got a couple of poles, but was unable to put a strong season together due to poor luck, and not poor performances. Book a round trip to Dublin on your way to the IRL, Tony.

DIXON: A perplexing season for an acknowledged star of the future.

FERNANDEZ: Adrian gets the Gutsy Performance award for his comeback from his first injury, and then taking the second injury, which caused him to miss his hometown race, with grace.

TAKAGI: Ah, good old Tora. He certainly wasn't boring.

DOMINGUEZ: The most undeserving race winner in CART history. Perhaps in motorsports history. The most underserving Rookie of the Year winner in CART history. In fact, if it wasn't for the so-called win handed to him on a silver platter, Townsend Bell, fired halfway through the season, would have won the Jim Trueman award. Now, that is embarrassing.

PAPIS: Oh, how we missed Mad Max.

TOYOTA: So, they finally got their manufacturer's championship. Not exactly a just reward for boning CART the past two years.

REYNARD: Their failed F1 voyage finally caught up with them. Gee, what a surprise. Not!

RULES: Sure, they needed some tweaking here and there during the season, but the willingness for CART to make, and continue to make, sweeping changes in order to enhance the excitement, is a great move forward.

INSPIRATION OF THE YEAR: Alex Zanardi returning to the track, and not just as a starter in Toronto, but as a driver in a go-kart. With the term “hero” so overused in sports today, it is an understatement when applied to Alex.

BEST RACE OF THE SEASON: Fontana. It was exciting, it was the fastest 500 mile race in history, and as long as CART can put on races like this, Tony George can Super Glue that hammer to his head.

WORSE RACE OF THE SEASON: Well, duh – Surfers Paradise.

EVENT OF THE YEAR: Long Beach, for all the obvious reasons – that it's becoming the Monaco of North America, that it's glamorous, that its former head now heads up CART. And maybe not so obvious ones – that it offers the race fan a solid value and that it's just plain fun. Toronto takes a close second.

NEW EVENT OF THE YEAR: Another obvious choice – Mexico City. Though, Montreal is a very close second.

PASS OF THE SEASON: Paul Tracy when he went from fourth to first on the first lap at Road America.

STAT OF THE SEASON: 2,686,640 spectators. 'Nuf said!

HISTORICAL STAT OF THE SEASON: Ever since the Vanderbilt Cup replaced the PPG Cup as the season ending trophy, it has always been won by a Brazilian.

QUOTE OF THE SEASON: Cristiano da Matta on the future of CART, "I think the series is going to come back in one, two or three years. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take a step forward."

QUOTE OF THE SEASON RUNNERUP: Barry Green on Tony George, "I think he's lost his way."

SCHEDULE: 2002 was a year where CART had to turn the corner. They did. Now, 2003 will be a year to see how well CART accelerates out of that corner.

Since, we were so late with the postseason thoughts and it is Christmas time, here is a bonus section where Deep Throttle plays Santa and hands out gifts.

To Memo Gidley, Max Papis, and Roberto Moreno: Rides. Marvelous, full time rides, for all of your talent and hard work.

To Scott Dixon and Bruno Junqueira: Wonderful press next year. By far our most patient interview subjects, who never screamed when asked truly stupid questions.

To Alex Tagliani and Bruno Junqueira: Great photo shots. They were the most cooperative drivers in the paddock, race after race.

To Chip Ganassi and Barry Green: Coal in your stockings for abandoning CART without so much as a fare-thee-well.

To The Defecting Drivers: Hopes that you will find your manufacturer-subsidized salaries almost as satisfying as racing in CART.

Copyright © 2002 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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  Driver Pts.
1. da Matta 237
2. Junqueira 164
3. Carpentier 157
4. Franchitti 148
5. Fittipaldi 122
6. Brack 114
7. Vasser 114
8. Tagliani 111
9. Andretti 110
10. Jourdain 105
11. Tracy 101
12. Kanaan 99
13. Dixon 97
14. Fernandez 59
15. Takagi 53
16. Servia 44
17. Nakano 43
18. Dominguez(R) 37
19. Papis 32
20. Bell(R) 19
21. Manning(R) 4
22. Lotterer(R) 1
23. Diaz(R) 0

  Driver Pts.
1. Dominguez 37
2. Bell 19
3. Manning 4
4. Lotterer 1
5. Diaz 0

  Make Pts.
1. Toyota 332
2. Honda 283
3. Ford Cosworth 259

  Chassis Pts.
1. Lola 401
2. Reynard 235

  Country Pts.
1. Brazil 325
2. Canada 247
3. United States 164
4. Scotland 148
5. Mexico 142
6. Sweden 113
7. New Zealand 96
8. Japan 73
9. Spain 44
10. Italy 32
11. England 4
12. Germany 1

  Driver Wins
1. da Matta 7
2. Franchitti 3
3. Junqueira 2
  Carpentier 2
5. Brack 1
  Vasser 1
  Andretti 1
  Tracy 1
  Dominguez(R) 1

  Driver Poles
1. da Matta 7
2. Junqueira 4
3. Kanaan 2
  Fernandez 2
5. Carpentier 1
  Franchitti 1
  Brack 1
  Vasser 1

Most Laps Led
Cristiano da Matta (619)

Laps Completed
Michel Jourdain (2,368)
2008 Thoughts
Long Beach

2007 Thoughts
Preseason Las Vegas Long Beach Houston
Portland Cleveland Mont Tremblant Toronto
Edmonton San Jose Road America Belgium
Holland Surfers Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2006 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Houston Monterrey
Milwaukee Portland Cleveland Toronto
Edmonton San Jose Denver Montreal
Road America Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2005 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Monterrey Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Toronto Edmonton
San Jose Denver Montreal Las Vegas
Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2004 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Monterrey Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Toronto Vancouver
Road America Denver Montreal Laguna Seca
Las Vegas Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2003 Thoughts
Preseason St. Petersburg Monterrey Long Beach
Brands Hatch Germany Milwaukee Laguna Seca
Portland Cleveland Toronto Vancouver
Road America Mid-Ohio Montreal Denver
Miami Mexico City Surfer's Paradise Postseason

2002 Thoughts
Preseason Monterrey Long Beach Japan
Milwaukee Laguna Seca Portland Chicago
Toronto Cleveland Vancouver Mid-Ohio
Road America Montreal Denver
England Miami Surfer's Paradise
Fontana Mexico City Postseason

2001 Thoughts
Preseason Mexico Long Beach Nazareth
Japan Milwaukee Detroit Portland
Cleveland Toronto Michigan Chicago
Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver German
England Houston Laguna Seca
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

2000 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Long Beach Brazil
Japan Nazareth Milwaukee Detroit
Portland Cleveland Toronto Michigan
Chicago Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver
Laguna Seca Gateway USGP Houston
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

1999 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Japan Long Beach
Nazareth Brazil Gateway Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Road America Toronto
U.S. 500 Detroit Mid-Ohio Chicago
Vancouver Laguna Seca Houston
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

1998 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Japan Long Beach
Nazareth Brazil Gateway Milwaukee
Detroit Portland Cleveland Toronto
U.S. 500 Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver
Laguna Seca Houston Surfer's Paradise Fontana

1997 Thoughts
Miami Surfer's Paradise Long Beach Nazareth
Brazil Gateway Milwaukee Detroit
Portland Cleveland Toronto
U.S. 500 Mid-Ohio Road America
Vancouver Laguna Seca Fontana
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