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
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
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,
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
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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