2004 Postseason Thoughts
CHAMPIONSHIP: Sebastien Bourdais was clearly the class of the field and deserved to take the Vanderbilt Cup. McDonald’s on the Seine? We can see it now.
TRACKS: Still exciting after all these years – Champ Car races featured the best and most diverse racing venues in the world.
BOURDAIS: While his team, Newman-Haas, is arguably the best Champ Car has to offer, this young Frenchman fits right in with former N-H champions Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, and Cristiano da Matta. Can’t wait to see what Sea-Bass does next year. Is it time for Long Beach yet?
JUNQUEIRA: Three years and three second place finishes. Does anyone see a pattern here?
CARPENTIER: Say what you want about Patrick leaving, but the fact is considering he set all kinds of records in Atlantics, he never really panned out in Champ Car. However, he always looked out for the women of Deep Throttle. There’ll never be anyone quite as nice, and we hope he doesn’t end up as IRL carnage.
TRACY: As terrific as 2003 was for PT, nothing stands still in auto racing, and that includes Paul’s dominance – it just couldn’t last. His biggest achievement was the way Paul stayed with Champ Car in the face of defections of some of his friends.
DOMINGUEZ: Huge improvements for a guy we often maligned. Best of all, he is really becoming fun to watch. But F1? Mario, achieve some greatness in Champ Car first, not just impressive improvement.
ALLMENDINGER: How can you not like Dinger? A deserving winner of the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year race, and maybe a future champion.
TAGLIANI: He finally did it! He won a race! But, is he the next Carpentier?
VASSER: Jimmy was never really a factor this year, and we bet he’s really tired of being an also ran. No wins, one podium at Montreal, and pretty much a mid packer for most of the season. The good part of this year? He became a team owner, and with someone who may just let him turn things around next year.
HUNTER-REAY: One of our favorite American drivers, Ryan recorded his second Champ Car victory. He’s a complete package – talented, intelligent, and the women of Champ Car like him very much. Let’s hope he sticks around.
SERVIA: Put Dale Coyne in the top 10 in points and scored an unbelievable podium at Laguna Seca. Oriol did more with less money than just about anyone out there.
WILSON: The tallest driver we’ve seen in many a year in the series – we still wonder where they put his legs in the car. If Justin decides to hang around long enough, the former F1 driver could actually be a star driver in this series.
JOURDAIN: Michel did not deserve the betrayal of Bobby Rahal this year – none of us did. He did his best to land on his feet with a last minute ride at RuSport, but it was never a good fit for him.
HABERFELD: Had some fine runs there, but seemed to peter out near the end. Hopefully, a Lola next year will prove once and for all what Mario is made of.
LAVIN: Neil Micklewright said Lavin would surprise us this year, and he did. This Mexican had some very good drives in 2004. However, there are still much better drivers out there we would like to see in the series instead.
GONZALEZ: Just clearly out of his league. He can probably have a good career elsewhere, but Champ Car is a demanding series, and Gonzales just doesn’t have what it takes.
PHILIPPE: "I've earned my spot in the Champ Car World Series." It remains to be seen what will last longer – his daddy’s money or his ego.
THE WANKERS: We really needed the rent-a-rides this year to make sure we had full fields. However, some of these guys really belong working at Jiffy Lube.
GIDLEY: Yeah, maybe it's getting old. But please, would someone give this guy another chance.
VALIANTE: And someone give this guy a first chance.
NEWMAN: Kudos for his incredible loyalty to the series and Carl Haas for not taking the bazillion dollars offered him to defect to the IRL. Also to Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi, and Kevin Kalkhoven for buying the series and keeping it going under often difficult conditions. Last, but not least, to the Fans of Champ Car, without whom none of the foregoing would make any difference at all.
RAHAL and FERNANDEZ: Your legacy will forever be remembered as those who took blood money to be induced to leave Champ Car right after the Sneak Preview.
HONDA: You make Enron look like the saints of business ethics. The only way to really show your displeasure on this one, race fans, is to stop buying Honda products. Encourage anyone who will listen to you to do the same. Repeat.
INSPIRATION OF THE YEAR: Cost of CART in Federal Bankruptcy Court: $3.5 million. Cost of Cosworth: $95 million. Cost of having the Champ Car saviors kick Tony George’s butt time and again: Priceless.
RULES: Loved push to pass. Still hate those damned timed races. What we like most about the whole subject of rules is that anything that isn’t working now can be changed.
TELEVISION: By far the weakest link in the world of Champ Car is TV. Where do we start? Well, we knew we were in trouble when a Deep Throttle staff member had to explain open wheel racing to the film crew at Long Beach. We had the sinking feeling, never to be dispelled, that the lowest bidder was hired – and they got what they paid for. Please, please, next time hire someone who actually does their homework. Or, better yet, hire someone who actually knows more about televising races than we do. Here’s an idea – show the races live! It’ll catch on, trust us. Live, live, nothing but live. So, please drop Spike, they are not a good fit. What you’re wanting is a network TV deal with a few races on Speed. Need a review on this? The cameraman from Betelgeuse has our business card.
BEST RACE OF THE SEASON: Denver. If you didn’t find this racing exciting, you probably don’t have a pulse. Call the morgue. The promoter did a fabulous job of pulling this event together, and Sebastien Bourdais’ come from behind victory is one of those career-making races that we will remember for years to come.
PASS OF THE SEASON: Sebastien Bourdais passing the entire field at Denver.
EVENT OF THE YEAR: Long Beach. It’s such a terrific event that even Tony George showed up.
WORST RUN RACE OF THE SEASON: Las Vegas. The new Sin City race was ruined by poor officiating, a too-late start, and a thrown together aero package that didn’t let the fastest car win. Let’s hope for better days in 2005.
STAT OF THE SEASON: There was a season.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE SEASON: There has only been one French World Driving champion – Alain Prost. Now, there is only one French Champ Car champion.
QUOTE OF THE SEASON: Kevin Kalkhoven while holding up a hammer, "Tony, we stole your hammer."
QUOTE OF THE SEASON RUNNERUP: Oriol Servia looking towards next year, "People are excited. It definitely fells better than the end of last year."
SCHEDULE: There will be a 2005 schedule. And we know that long before 2005. What a change in one year!
Copyright © 2004 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
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