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2003 Postseason Thoughts

CHAMPIONSHIP: Let's face it, in the end, we were all rooting for Tracy. The quintessential CART supporter deserved nothing less than a title. This was the Year of Paul Tracy – all Paul, all the time. 2003 was the payoff year for all of us who saw a crazy young driver for Roger Penske in 1994 – and every drive since then – with intense and total commitment.

TRACKS: From Mexico City – the best of tracks – to Miami – the worst of tracks (unless you are looking for a way to lose 20 pounds in one day) – CART’s races featured the most exciting racing venues in the world.

TRACY: In addition to gaining in maturity, the simple fact is that PT worked his butt off for at least two years to get himself into prime physical condition so he could make winning the Vanderbilt Cup look easy. Trust us, it was not. Now what?

PLAYERS: They got what they wanted in their last year. Now, it's up to Forsythe to keep the team going.

JUNQUEIRA: The championship was Bruno's to lose this year, and he did. Truth be told, Newman – Haas was much more attuned to the driving style of Rookie of the Year Sebastien Bourdais than it was to Cris Da Matta's friend, Bruno. Junky did not transplant as easily from Target Chip Ganassi Racing as PT did to Gerry Forsythe's team. If he cannot win the championship next year, look for an exit, stage left, to his F1 dreams.

JOURDAIN: It took a lot to sway all the doubters, Deep Throttle included, but no more cracks about being a rent-a-rider. This year's wins fulfilled last year's promise. Could he be a future champion? Well, he completed the most miles and most laps in 2003 - and he’s a worthy competitor.

BOURDAIS: Nice to see a rookie earn his Rookie-of-the-Year title. Sebastien was the brightest spot amongst a gluttony of unqualified newcomers.

CARPENTIER: Sadly, this year truly shows how Patrick may never live up to his billing. Only once did he outshine his teammate for a weekend. Other than that, he barely could hang in Paul's shadow.

DOMINGUEZ: Last year's most undeserving race winner in CART history turned around and showed us that he could win a race without divine or Pookian intervention. Mario has certainly come a long way from an absurd first season. He still has a ways to go, but truly earned the Most Improved Driver award.

SERVIA: Oriol has had a number of decent rides, but has never been able to consistently compete.

FERNANDEZ: A win at Portland and getting engaged saved what otherwise would have been a lackluster year.

MANNING: A fun driver to be with and watch, but another one who took the money and ran, hopefully not to the infirmary.

TAGLIANI: Which Canadian racer is expected to take a win every year, yet always ends up coming up a bit short? This is what we said about Tags last year, too. In any case, it did turn out to be a perfect match of driver and car owner. This will be one team that will be fun to watch for another year.

VASSER: Jimmy either had the most disappointing season or the most unlucky season. We're stumped. Make it a tie. There were flashes of the old Jimmy, however, this could all change with a new season. Or not. In any case, if Jimmy's career is at an end, he will at least go out helping yet another rookie establish himself.

MORENO: Roberto certainly helped the Herdez team and Dominguez, but he did nothing for his own career.

HUNTER-REAY: Everybody was waiting for Ryan's breakthrough, and he finally took a temperamental chassis with an under funded team to victory lane. But where will he be next year?

SALO: Turned out -- eventually -- to be just the thing that PK Racing needed.

LAVIN: Why?

PAPIS: He may be the most popular driver on the circuit, but the fact of the matter is, he did nothing on the track. Yes, Max was saddled with a lousy team, but not once was he ever able to muster up some speed on his own.

SALLES: The most unanticipated return of a driver.

BOSS: No question the winner of the Hiro Matsushita award. Nobody even came close to lagging behind the field as this have-bags-full-of-cash-will-drive rookie.

GONZALEZ: Who?

ROCKETSPORTS: If Paul Gentilozzi can do to OWRS what he did with a first year team formed from scratch at the very last moment, then maybe there is hope for the future CART.

OVALS: To put it simply -- keep them! The whole basis for this series was all circuits all the time. To do otherwise will merely cause it to be second fiddle to any other all road racing circuit. Despite the rantings of a self proclaimed "expert" web site, there is nothing wrong with ovals per se, there is nothing wrong with the weight of the cars, and there is no need to stoop to adapting F2 chassis or hand-me-down F1 engines or giving hand outs to drivers who couldn't get a F1 ride. Just be what the original principles of CART envisioned which worked, and is not the reason for all the problems of today. In fact, it was straying from those original principles that got CART into all the trouble it is currently in.

RULES: Push to pass buttons, standing starts ... 2004 sounds exciting already.

INSPIRATION OF THE YEAR: Once again, it's Alex Zanardi topped off with 13 glorious -- and fast -- laps at Eurospeedway.

BEST RACE OF THE SEASON: Cleveland. Watching these cars at night on a road circuit was just flat out FUN.

WORSE RACE OF THE SEASON: Road America. After all the effort into putting this race back on the schedule, Mother Nature turned it into a complete dud. It turned out to be a blessing that the TV audience could be counted with just the fingers on your hands.

STAT OF THE SEASON: 11, as in Chapter 11, as in the complete and utter financial failure of CART.

HISTORICAL STAT OF THE SEASON: 1979, as in the year that CART first ran a race, with so much promise, most of it fulfilled. Until Tony George blew up the sport.

SCHEDULE: CART, as we know it, is dead. The question now is whether the series (if there even is one) that rises from the ashes can ever regain it's former glory or merely be a glorified F5000 series. Perhaps an even more important question is whether open wheel racing will from now on remain nothing more than a fading blip on the racing radar to do battle with such stellar motorsports niches such as lawn mower and swamp buggy racing.

Copyright © 2003 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.


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FINAL STANDINGS
  Driver Pts.
1. Tracy 226
2. Junqueira 199
3. Jourdain 195
4. Bourdais(R) 159
5. Carpentier 146
6. Dominguez 118
7. Servia 108
8. Fernandez 105
9. Manning(R) 103
10. Tagliani 97
11. Vasser 72
12. Haberfeld(R) 71
13. Moreno 67
14. Hunter-Reay(R) 64
15. Monteiro(R) 29
16. Salo(R) 26
17. Papis 25
18. Lavin(R) 17
19. Salles 11
20. Boss(R) 8
21. Lemarie(R) 8
22. Camathias(R) 6
23. Yoong(R) 4
24. Gonzalez(R) 3
25. Herta 2
26. Sperafico(R) 0
27. Diaz(R) 0

ROOKIE STANDINGS
  Driver Pts.
1. Bourdais 159
2. Manning 103
3. Haberfeld 71
4. Hunter-Reay 64
5. Monteiro 29
6. Salo 26
7. Lavin 17
8. Boss 8
9. Lemarie 8
10. Camathias 6
11. Yoong 4
12. Gonzalez 3
13. Sperafico 0
14. Diaz 0

CONSTRUCTORS
  Chassis Pts.
1. Lola 387
2. Reynard 161

NATION'S CUP
  Country Pts.
1. Canada 298
2. Mexico 262
3. Brazil 228
4. France 161
5. United States 107
6. Spain 106
7. England 103
8. Portugal 28
9. Finland 26
10. Italy 25
11. Switzerland 6
12. Malaysia 4

VICTORIES
  Driver Wins
1. Tracy 7
2. Bourdais(R) 3
3. Junqueira 2
  Jourdain 2
5. Carpentier 1
  Dominguez 1
  Fernandez 1
  Hunter-Reay(R) 1

POLE POSITIONS
  Driver Poles
1. Tracy 6
2. Bourdais(R) 5
3. Junqueira 2
  Tagliani 2
5. Jourdain 1
  Carpentier 1
  Fernandez 1

Most Laps Led
Paul Tracy (658)

Laps Completed
Michel Jourdain (1,890)
 
 
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