2007 Postseason Thoughts
CHAMPIONSHIP: Will Power gave us all hope in the first race. However, before you could say "Viva Vegas!" the excitement fizzled.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: A well deserved title by Robert Doornbos over a solid field of rookies.
STORY OF THE YEAR: The Panoz DP01 which ushered in a new era in Champ Car racing ... for better or worse.
TRACKS: Las Vegas was one of the best designed street circuits in the world, but we missed the use of another exciting street circuit -- Denver. Mt. Tremblant, Zolder, and Assen were all enjoyable additions for the drivers. And no ovals for the first time ever.
THE BIG PICTURE: This was supposed to be the breakout year. It was anything but. In fact, it was nearly a disaster of epic proportions. A schedule that was harder to nail down than a cat covered in Vaseline. A driver lineup that was decided and then undecided purely on the size of their wallets and not their balls. Owners who were either too busy marching with penguins or yanking hard cards from the only folks in the media who gave a damn. And sponsorship that was as rare as said penguins in Hawaii. At least the racing was decent ... well ... halfway decent.
BOURDAIS: We may never see the likes of Sebastien again. Even though the competition may not be what it was during the heyday of CART, winning four consecutive championships at any level of racing is a very difficult feat no matter how you slice it.
WILSON: When all was said and done, Justin finished second, despite having a lesser season than the year before.
DOORNBOS: We're looking forward to many exciting and fun years from Robert.
POWER: Came into his own this year. Now, it's time for Will to seriously contend for a title.
RAHAL: Graham improved as the year went on and is mature well beyond his years. He still needs some seasoning, and he will surely get that at NHL.
SERVIA: Sixth place in the series while driving for two different teams. Quite a year for Oriol. Too bad some owners are too blinded to see it.
JUNQUEIRA: Just when we all thought Bruno's career was behind him, he surprised us all with perhaps his best driving of his career on an underfunded, understaffed team.
PAGENAUD: Started out strong, but seemed to struggle down the stretch. Nonetheless, Simon will be a driver to be reckoned with in the future.
JANI: Expected more out of Neel, but perhaps it was the team.
TAGLIANI: Alex is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Champ Car lineup. He's also the Rodney Dangerfield by his team owner.
TRACY: Simply a miserable season for Paul. It started going bad in Long Beach and actually went downhill from there. It's hard to fathom Paul struggled to understand the new car when he is considered one of the best testers in the game, a trait highly prized by Roger Penske.
GOMMENDY: Admittedly, Tristan performed waaaaay better than the pounding we predicted he would take. However, like many of the other cookie-cutter average talented European fat cats, he neither inspired passion nor following from the North American fans.
CLARKE: The most controversial driver in the paddock. Without Dick Dan, the season would really have been a bore.
DALZIEL: Take a number Ryan in the line of drivers who got screwed royally by owners looking for the quick buck.
LEGGE: Just the opposite of Junqueira -- a huge disappointment this year who suffered being on an underfunded, understaffed team. If Katherine does return next year, it will be her last make it or break it season.
HEYLEN: Jan, line up next to Dalziel.
FIGGE: Well, at least Alex is an American buy-a-rider. And an excellent runoff tester as well...
DOMINGUEZ: Mario does love Champ Car which is good in that when he has a ride, he will work to publicize the series.
PHILIPPE: A strange chain of events this year, but Nelson does have a following and has improved to the point of being fun to watch, so it would be best for Champ Car if he finds a full time ride.
MARTINEZ: David has been impressive every time he's driven a Champ Car, but that has not to date meant he can get a drive. But, come to think of it, neither do a good many other talented drivers.
HALLIDAY: Matt, we hardly knew ya.
PKV: Instead of hiring fan favorite Oriol Servia who could have been a championship contender this year, they went for a marketing bust decision of taking the money from completely unknown Tristan Gommendy. And to think, this team is owned by one of the principal owners of Champ Car.
FORSYTHE: Instead of settling on their driver lineup early on, they fired half the crew including Michael Cannon, were going to run only one car, struggled all year to understand the new chassis without the experienced crew and Cannon (who had no problems getting Minardi to be competitive) who they fired, played musical chairs with the second car, and then axed Servia who was in the thick of a points battle. And to think, this team is owned by one of the principal owners of Champ Car.
RuSPORT: Instead of running two cars, they took one car and the one rare primary sponsor and did some sort of half-assed merger with Rocketsports, called themselves RSports only because both teams happened to start with the letter "R", and killed that one true primary sponsor and then eventually the team. And to think, this team is owned by one of the principal owners of Champ Car.
ROCKETSPORTS: Cut their team down to one car, caused a ruckus when they were going to have a strip club as a sponsor in Europe, and apparently continued to not pay their driver. And to think, this team is owned by (supposedly) one of the principal owners of Champ Car.
NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING: Did everything right, doing the series a huge favor. And their owners do not own a piece of Champ Car.
MINARDI TEAM USA: Did everything right from hiring Michael Cannon to hiring competitive (if sometimes controversial) drivers to helping to publicize the series whenever they could. And their owners do not own a piece of Champ Car.
TEAM AUSTRALIA: Did everything right from having a dedicated team manager to competitive, fun drivers to a team owner who raves about Champ Car. And their owners do not own a piece of Champ Car.
ATLANTIC: Once again, the Atlantic series was the best thing going for Champ Car on all fronts. But then again, it is run by someone who clearly knows how to run a series -- Vicki O'Connor.
INSPIRATION OF THE YEAR: Bruno Junqueira and Dale Coyne Racing. A classic story of the underdog making good with grit, determination, and natural talent.
RULES: Love the standing start. We understand those who miss the plusses of a rolling start and the fact that it makes Champ Car look like F1-lite, but the starts were so much cleaner and when you are watching from the front straight, pretty darn exciting.
TELEVISION: The series finally got a consistent package looking forward, but it didn't do them one ounce of good in 2007.
BEST RACE OF THE SEASON: Toronto without question. What a blast that race was.
PASS OF THE SEASON: Pick one at Mont Tremblant.
EVENT OF THE SEASON: Long Beach which revived its magic with huge, knowledgeable crowds and a great double header with the addition of the American Le Mans Series. Road America is a close second for the same reasons.
WORST RACE OF THE SEASON: Surprisingly, Road America. No fighting up front. Belgium was a close second.
WORST EVENT OF THE SEASON: Portland which continues to disappoint in all facets after being such a mainstay on the circuit.
WORD OF THE SEASON: Disappointment
STAT OF THE SEASON: 4 -- Is there any other stat that meant anything this year?
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE SEASON: 7 -- Let's not forget while Bourdais has won four in a row, Mario Andretti also won four titles all together, and A.J. Foyt won a whopping seven.
QUOTE OF THE SEASON: Sebastien Bourdais summing it all up, "All I hope is that people remember that we went after it, and we gave it our very best. What a fun five years it's been. I'm surely not going to forget about it any time soon."
QUOTE OF THE SEASON RUNNERUP: Heard from a fan at Road America in Canada Corner, "What the hell is a Gommendy?!"
SCHEDULE: Champ Car is drifting away from North America. 2008 might tell us if this is the sort of schedule that will bring success or failure.
Copyright © 2007 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.