2005 Preseason Thoughts
PRESEASON: The antithesis of 2004. A real snooze. Dry press releases, no Spring Training, and one week before the season opener we have no idea what the driver lineup will be.
KALKHOVEN: What can you say? Some, even Champ Car lovers, still aren't buying what he brings to the table. Not us. Kevin is the salvation the series has been seeking. Those without patience remain doubters. Besides, any Champ Car owner who likes Deep Throttle and Ed Donath has our support.
GENTILOZZI: This year, Paul seems to be the silent partner. Who put the muzzle on him?
FORSYTHE: The way he runs his team still has us scratching our heads. Good thing he is not the only one in charge of Champ Car.
NEWMAN-HAAS: Hands down, the best team running in Champ Car. They have stability, they have talent, and they have decent budgets. If they don't bring home another championship, there's going to be some 'splaining to do.
BOURDAIS: Expect a repeat champion. We don't see anyone being able to touch him as Sebastien keeps getting stronger and stronger.
JUNQUIERA: Bruno will repeat his modus operandi -- almost pull it off, but in the end get pushed aside. Literally.
TRACY: Everyone is saying Paul will get the title back this year. We're not. Tracy is not built for a championship run. His Vanderbilt Cup in 2003 was more the case of law of averages than anything else. He's built to win races, and win races he does. So, who cares whether he wins the championship. He's great fun and a contender every time he hits the track, and that's all that really matters.
DOMINGUEZ: Mario is now the senior Mexican in the series. Sure, Mario landed with a solid team, but will his constant yapping about F1 ultimately cost him his career? Will he pull a Jacques Villeneuve?
VASSER: If this is Jimmy's last year, he must be elated it will be one with the likes of da Matta as his teammate, and not the hopeless Roberto Gonzalez.
DA MATTA: Welcome back Cristiano! You're sure to add a lot of excitement this year.
RUSPORT: An emerging superteam?
ALLMENDINGER: If A.J. doesn't win races this year, something will be very, very wrong, and Allmendinger is going to be very hard to be around.
WILSON: Looks great to pair this talented English F1 exile with someone like A.J. Allmendinger. Justin is determined to get his first win this year ... if they don't take each other out.
TAGLIANI: Alex may be better off with Walker. Granted, Walker has been resource poor in the past, but his team has never underperformed with what they have unlike Rocketsports. With money from rich Australians, Tagliani may be in a great spot. Then again, Alex has underperformed his whole career as well. But a guy who has a wife like Bronte can't be completely at a loss, no?
HUNTER-REAY: Ryan is a talented enough racer that he shouldn't have to keep changing teams every year. Moving to Rocketsports may not be the breakthrough Ryan needs. We're down on the Rocketsports team, and this is the third year for them to prove us wrong.
HVM: Is it just us, or did the team formerly known as Herdez get caught sleeping the past 12 months? They knew they were losing sponsors, they talked about how they had new ones lined up, and all of a sudden they have no sponsors, their drivers fled, and we have no idea who is piloting their cars this year.
WIRDHEIM: Now, Champ Car is up to four F3000 champions (with only two in F1). Bjorn is a great addition to the lineup.
GLOCK: Talk about great additions to the lineup. If his preseason testing results are any indications, Timo may be the biggest thing to hit Champ Car since Montoya.
MI-JACK CONQUEST: The Diaper Team.
PHILIPPE: Admittedly, Nelson did improve over the course of last season. However, he still doesn't have anything that excites us.
RANGER: Riddle us this ... Andrew has just one year in Atlantics, never won a race there, and got beat by Danica Patrick just as often as not, and all the message boards are lit up saying he is ready but Danica was not? Despite that hypocrisy, we do agree that Ranger has the potential to be a future star. This year, we're not quite ready to salivate all over him. His youth, inexperience, midpack team, and lack of a seasoned teammate will result in an inconsistent season. He will, however, pull a few surprises here and there.
MARSHALL: Marcus, who?
JENSEN: Definitely the underdog this year, but the type of team that no matter who drives for them -- and hopefully that's either Memo Gidley and/or Michael Valiante -- everybody is going to be rooting for.
COYNE: Pick a driver. Any driver. Just not Gaston Mazzacane.
SERVIA: Our sources tell us the gentleman from Catalonia will be on the grid at Long Beach. We'll see. Oriol would certainly bring professional depth as a journeyman racer, and wasn't this the same situation as last year?
JOURDAIN: Be easy on Michel. Sure he fled to NASCAR, but he stuck with Champ Cars last year when the series desperately needed him to do so. Now, Patrick Carpentier on the other hand...
CARPENTIER: We must reluctantly award Patrick our Annual Roger Penske Don't Let The Door Hit You in the Ass on the Way Out award. We like this Canadian, but we think it's a mistake to give up one of the best seats in the series to become a backmarker in the IRL. Know you needed the money dude, but that's not the way to do it.
SCHEDULE: The additions of San Jose, Edmonton, and South Korea are great for the bottom line. With the exception of Edmonton, we'll have to wait and see if they will be great additions to the racing line.
WE WILL MISS: Road America, Laguna Seca, Michel Jourdain, Patrick Carpentier (sort of), Mario Haberfeld (maybe), and Tommy Kendall.
WE WILL NOT MISS: Roberto Gonzalez (hopefully), Gaston Mazzacane (hopefully), Rodolfo Lavin (hopefully), Chris Kneifel, and John Lopes.
WORD OF THE PRESEASON: Promise.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE PRESEASON: No F3000 champion ever won the Champ Car title twice. F3000 non-champions did twice, both consecutively -- Alex Zanardi and Gil de Ferran.
STAT OF THE PRESEASON: The drivers' stats. A few weeks ago we were prepared to rip on Champ Car for yet another thin lineup. Not anymore. With the recent announcements, this year's field is much more talented and deep.
QUOTE OF THE PRESEASON: Adam Friedman, President of Traveling Light Media: "People have heard that terrible sound like a vacuum cleaner full of marbles that is the IRL and Grand Am and have turned it off in droves. When they hear the sound of a Champ Car, they are hooked for life."
Copyright © 2005 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
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