2006 Preseason Thoughts
PRESEASON: The merger talks started early this year as it may be the end of Champ Car as we know it as merger rumors are moving faster than Paris Hilton changes boyfriends.
THE BIG PICTURE: We still don't know all the drivers two weeks prior to the start of the season. The big, bad manufacturers completed the job in the IRL that Tony George started. Tony George is now maybe, kinda sorta, possibly, perhaps interested in coming over to play with us in Champ Car. The real open wheel story of 2006 is the feeding frenzy that will be the Atlantic series.
KALKHOVEN: We are cautiously optimistic about Kevin’s friendship with Tony George. While our credentials may be revoked the moment the ink is dry on any type of unification agreement, we are hoping that if it happens, Champ Car will retain some of its road racing flavor. And we hope he can head Gerald Forsythe off at the pass when it comes to replacing Tony Cotman as Race Director. Oh, and bring about World Peace while he’s at it.
GENTILOZZI: Umm, Paul, what happened to that Trans-Am series?
FORSYTHE: Ahh, Gerry, let's be real blunt here. Your move to replace Tony Cotman is the worse decision you have ever made in your entire lifetime.
RuSPORT: Continuous steady growth for one of the best run racing teams in years.
WILSON: Here’s how we think the rather thin field will break down in most races. As in the series’ 2005 finale, we expect that the usual Bourdais/Tracy rivalry will intensify to the point where they take each other out. Often. Running right between them to scoop up points and race wins will be Justin Wilson. Possibly to the championship.
NEWMAN-HAAS: Until they are knocked off the perch, they will remain the team to beat.
BOURDAIS: All streaks inevitably come to an end. After all, Sebastien can't continue combining skill with luck this well, again. Can he...?
JUNQUIERA: With Bruno, there’s always something that counts him out. Sometimes it’s Bruno himself. Expect Junqueira to podium from time to time, but don’t foresee a championship.
TRACY: We expect Paul not to be on the losing side of so many confrontations with Bourdais this year, so we expect him to finish stronger in the points battle. Tracy is wired to win races rather than championships, but would we really want it any other way? Age won't mellow him.
DOMINGUEZ: Mario is the senior Mexican driver in the series, and may be the only Mexican driver with a full time ride. Expect him to be competitive.
VASSER: The Continuing Adventures of Jimmy should be an interesting show to watch this year. He might even surprise us and win another race!
DA MATTA: How the mighty has fallen. From Vanderbilt Cup winner to disastrous F1 career to boneheaded moves in Champ Car's return to possibly driving for Dale Coyne.
ALLMENDINGER: Being the racing equivalent of Justin Wilson’s sparring partner is not what he imagined for himself. Until Dinger stops throwing races away, he won't get out from Justin's already tall shadow.
TAGLIANI: Will Tags bring Derrick Walker a much deserved victory? Who cares? He's still got the hottest wife in the paddock.
POWER: Will make us quickly forget Marcus.
LEGGE: We suggest at least one journalist per month not be permitted to say “Danica” in Katherine's presence, on pain of having a sock stuffed in their mouth.
SERVIA: Oriol got the taste last year. Now, can he deliver without the Super Team?
PHILIPPE: After two full seasons in Champ Car, Nelson's youth is no longer a concern. The concern now is how podium ready is he?
MI-JACK CONQUEST: The most underrated team in the series.
ZWOLSMAN: Charles' Atlantic championship was overshadowed by Katherine last year. Now, his Champ Car debut is overshadowed by Katherine. However, Charles is on a better team.
RANGER: Are we going to lose another promising driver, a North American driver, no less, to sponsor woes?
HUNTER-REAY: We need Ryan in the series. If nothing else, to keep Becca in the paddock.
COYNE: Get your Champ Car ride here! Get your Champ Car ride here! (Just not a Sperafico.)
ROCKETSPORTS: Rrrriiiiing. Calling Rocketsports. Anyone home?
SCHEDULE: Fifteen races on the schedule, featuring a return to Road America (and good luck trying to book a room there for race weekend, even now!). Well, fourteen -- expect the Koreans to bail again.
WE WILL MISS: Ryan Hunter-Reay (possibly) who has never had a consistent and stable ride. We’ll continue to miss Laguna Seca, Tommy Kendall, Mid-Ohio, Fontana, Michel Jourdain Jr., Bob Varsha, and this year, going to Las Vegas. And we’ll miss Jimmy Vasser at every race he decides to not run in during his “don't call it a farewell tour” tour.
WE WILL NOT MISS: A Sperafico (please, please, please let this be true), Korea (well, you can't miss something that's never happened), the Molson Indy name, and Marcus Marshall.
WORD OF THE PRESEASON: Transition.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE PRESEASON: 33 -- the number of cars that used to start at Indy.
STAT OF THE PRESEASON: 40 -- possible number of starters in the Champ Car Atlantic series once all the teams are ready to go.
QUOTE OF THE PRESEASON: Tony George, obviously forgetting who started this whole mess, "I'm one of many people who believe that open-wheel racing would be better served by a unified IRL and Champ Car." Ya, think?! It took you ten years to come to that conclusion?!
Copyright © 2006 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.