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1997 Laguna Seca Thoughts

RACE: Maybe it's a good thing that the season is winding down. I don't know how many of these races my heart can take. I was jumping up and down cheering and screaming over this one. Simply incredible! This season keeps getting better and better. And each season gets better than the previous one. On second thought, I'll take my chances. Let's have a 52-race schedule next year!

ESPN: I try not to complain about TV coverage of racing. After all, I can remember the days of Wide World of Sports sporadically covering a few laps in between arm wrestling. However, ESPN, how in the world did you manage to go to a commercial break and miss perhaps the 5 most exciting laps of the season?! Perhaps the decade!

VICTORY LAP: I'm still laughing, but this is not unprecedented. Way back, the same thing happened to Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi after a Grand Prix. The only amazing part I found was that even on the cool down lap, Zanardi escapes without any damage and keeps going while the other car is out. How does he manage this time and time again?

ZANARDI: If you look at his driving style, you would say that it is not one that wins championships. In fact, I maintain Zanardi never would have won the PPG Cup if it was not for the most amazing luck in racing history and the fact that all of the contenders decided to go on a DNF frenzy in the stretch run of the season. However, the theory is that the championship is supposed to be for the best driver of the year, and Zanardi was definitely the best driver on the circuit. And for that, nobody should begrudge Zanardi the title.

HERTA: When asked if he will drive more aggressively, Bryan said he always drives aggressively. Perhaps some other drivers didn't see that. Rahal said that he knows Bryan, and he felt Bryan had a score to settle. Well, settle it Bryan did! And drivers will now think twice about pushing Herta around. There is no question in my mind that Bryan was thinking, "Alex, you are not getting by me, and if you try to take me out, you're coming with me." Quite ironic that it was Vasser that shoved Herta off the track just after Herta gave Zanardi the love tap into the dirt. Nevertheless, Herta sent his message.

VASSER: Well, Jimmy finally started getting into the act way too late to defend his title. Perhaps now he will be able to go his own route in regards to setup, and will once again be a contender for the title in 1998. The more contenders, the more excitement.

NUNN: Apparently, Chief Engineer extraordinaire, Mo Nunn is looking to retire as he is finding the grind of the long season too much. Chip Ganassi says he'll do anything to keep him. He better, otherwise we may find out where Team Ganassi's true success really came from.

SALLES: Did anybody else notice Gualter Salles had a fine run and finished 7th on the lead lap?

HEARN: The Lola has been flushed down the toilet. Now he gets a Swift, perhaps the best oval car this year, with all the setup information from Haas for the California 500. I've been raving about Hearn since his Toyota Atlantic days. I sure hope he comes through.

TRACY: Well, at least he made it past the first lap.

ANDRETTI: Five DNF's in the last 7 races. Well, at least this year's schedule ends on an oval. Last chance for the Swift to redeem Andretti's season. Then again, we're talking 500 miles and an Andretti...

NEARBURG: He actually outqualified somebody. Well, it was Vitolo.

VITOLO: Speaking of which, how bad is this guy? Two seconds behind Nearburg, he actually finishes the race behind 3 drivers who dropped out that's how many times he was lapped. I always felt that Vitolo got a bum deal for the criticism of his now infamous crash with Mansell at Indy, but now I'm beginning to change my tune.

PAPIS/JONES: Guys, what were you thinking? Sure, it's tough to run with a boat anchor of an engine, but to get so upset over qualifying when the difference might mean starting 23rd instead of 24th is a bit too much. For those of you who didn't see it, it appeared that Max Papis and PJ Jones were trying to hit each other, and did, on the cool off lap after qualifying. Then, when Jones stopped on the track, Papis did likewise whereupon Jones took his steering wheel and flung it at Max going "boink" off his helmet.

JOHNSTONE: Looks like Parker is definitely out. Team Green announced they will run only one car next year. They also said that the acceptance deadline for the offer to Robby Gordon is past due by one week. Barry Green mentioned that the "marriage with Parker is not working out." Rumor has Green wanting Franchitti. What happened to the American only driver dictum from KOOL? And what about Franchitti being Mercedes Benz's protege? Team Green is going to keep the Honda.

BRAHMA: Rumors have Brahma leaving Patrick Racing to back Indy Lights star Tony Kanaan on the Tasman team. That leaves Fernandez out, but some wild rumors have him signing with Newman/Haas. That leaves Fittipaldi out. Will he join up with his father concerning that often rumored new team? Or perhaps take Franchitti's spot on Hogan? And what will Boesel and Patrick do, both losing their sponsor again? Players is making rumblings of supporting a second car. Carpentier? Nope. He announced he will stay on with Bettenhausen next year. Word has it, it's going to be Empringham (and about time too).

KENDALL: No, there was not a Trans Am race this weekend. But, that won't stop me from mentioning Tommy Kendall. Word has it that he will test a car for Davis Racing. They say that he *does* fit in an Indy car, and now the next step is to drive one. Davis announced they will run two cars next year. Wait a minute. Isn't this the same team that almost didn't have enough money to run Vancouver? Something big must be in the wings. Can you say Pennzoil?

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Goes to Bryan Herta after being asked if beating out Zanardi for pole position was a bit of a pay back: "I would say the irony of the situation is not lost on me."

SCHEDULE: Onto the new Penske track in Fontana. It is a carbon copy of Michigan with the exception of lower banks. Despite this, it may be almost just as quick based on NASCAR's experience and summer testing. Reynard says they fixed the gearbox problem that manifested in Michigan. With no championship concerns except for positioning in the top ten, people will be "going for it." As long as attrition doesn't rear it's ugly head, this could be a fun race.

Deep Throttle

Copyright 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

2008 Thoughts
Long Beach

2007 Thoughts
Preseason Las Vegas Long Beach Houston
Portland Cleveland Mont Tremblant Toronto
Edmonton San Jose Road America Belgium
Holland Surfers Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2006 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Houston Monterrey
Milwaukee Portland Cleveland Toronto
Edmonton San Jose Denver Montreal
Road America Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2005 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Monterrey Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Toronto Edmonton
San Jose Denver Montreal Las Vegas
Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2004 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Monterrey Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Toronto Vancouver
Road America Denver Montreal Laguna Seca
Las Vegas Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2003 Thoughts
Preseason St. Petersburg Monterrey Long Beach
Brands Hatch Germany Milwaukee Laguna Seca
Portland Cleveland Toronto Vancouver
Road America Mid-Ohio Montreal Denver
Miami Mexico City Surfer's Paradise Postseason

2002 Thoughts
Preseason Monterrey Long Beach Japan
Milwaukee Laguna Seca Portland Chicago
Toronto Cleveland Vancouver Mid-Ohio
Road America Montreal Denver
England Miami Surfer's Paradise
Fontana Mexico City Postseason

2001 Thoughts
Preseason Mexico Long Beach Nazareth
Japan Milwaukee Detroit Portland
Cleveland Toronto Michigan Chicago
Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver German
England Houston Laguna Seca
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

2000 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Long Beach Brazil
Japan Nazareth Milwaukee Detroit
Portland Cleveland Toronto Michigan
Chicago Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver
Laguna Seca Gateway USGP Houston
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

1999 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Japan Long Beach
Nazareth Brazil Gateway Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Road America Toronto
U.S. 500 Detroit Mid-Ohio Chicago
Vancouver Laguna Seca Houston
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

1998 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Japan Long Beach
Nazareth Brazil Gateway Milwaukee
Detroit Portland Cleveland Toronto
U.S. 500 Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver
Laguna Seca Houston Surfer's Paradise Fontana

1997 Thoughts
Miami Surfer's Paradise Long Beach Nazareth
Brazil Gateway Milwaukee Detroit
Portland Cleveland Toronto
U.S. 500 Mid-Ohio Road America
Vancouver Laguna Seca Fontana
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