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Michael Andretti will leave CART and join the Indy Racing League with Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan as his teammates for the 2003 season.

"Honda's history and commitment to racing are second to none, and were a major factor in my decision to come to Team Green in 2001,'' Andretti said Tuesday. "My experience with Honda the past two seasons has only deepened my respect for their dedication and professionalism, and I look forward to continuing our successful relationship in the IRL.

Team Green, Honda and I have enjoyed a lot of success together,'' Franchitti said. "I've always had a lot of respect for Michael, but working with him as a teammate the past two years has strengthened our relationship. Adding Tony to the mix is the icing on the cake.''

The sponsorship details of Andretti Green's program are still being finalized but at this point the Motorola, Archipelago, 7-Eleven and Klein Tools brands intend to be on the AGR cars. As well, the choice of chassis will be announced at a later date.

Franchitti's decison was a shocker. I was hoping he would land a ride with Newman/Haas or Mario's new team.

:(
 

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Sigh...another blow to CART. Ah well, hopefully this will be the last blow CART will be taking, it just can't get any worser than here. Well, if you look at it in the long term, maybe someday CART will rise again. Its just those stupid sponsorships wanting to goto the IRL. I tell ya, racing is becoming diluted these days with American commercialism, its sad but true. The racing series should commit to a tobbacco ban like F1 is doing in the near future, I wonder if the American series can handle that....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Kilika2k said:
Sigh...another blow to CART. Ah well, hopefully this will be the last blow CART will be taking, it just can't get any worser than here. Well, if you look at it in the long term, maybe someday CART will rise again. Its just those stupid sponsorships wanting to goto the IRL. I tell ya, racing is becoming diluted these days with American commercialism, its sad but true. The racing series should commit to a tobbacco ban like F1 is doing in the near future, I wonder if the American series can handle that....
This was all put together by Honda. Since Toyota had snapped Penske and Ganassi, Honda had to get a big name to run their motor. Hence, Andretti, Franchitti, and Kanaan all is driving for Honda for the last 2-3 years. Basically, this is Honda factory IRL team. All in all, Andretti took Honda's money and ran with it.
 

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Today’s announcement of Andretti Green Racing’s decision to switch from the FedEx Championship Series to the IRL for 2003 drew the following official response this evening from CART President and CEO Chris Pook:

"While it's unfortunate that Andretti Green Racing did not choose to join the current lineup of teams that have recently committed to CART's future such as Patrick Racing, Newman/Haas Racing, Player's/Forsythe Racing, Team Rahal, Fernandez Racing and Walker Racing, today's announcement expedites the decision-making process that will allow our current and prospective teams and drivers to finalize their plans for what will be a very exciting and competitive 2003 racing season.

“We will concentrate our focus on growing the CART FedEx Championship Series and cultivating the talented drivers and teams that are coming up through the CART ladder system of driver development. In addition, we will continue to build the strength of the series on our successful race venues and the superb quality of our teams."
 

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Jim McGee has pretty much seen it all in the course of many years as a Champ Car mechanic and team manager. So, the general manager of Patrick Racing is uniquely positioned to comment on the current state of the sport in light of today’s bombshell announcement that Andretti Green Racing will be pulling up stakes and moving from CART to the IRL next year, and taking star drivers Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan with it.

“Well, you know, it's a tough period that open-wheel racing is going through right now,” McGee noted. “Certainly, the direction is still pretty unclear, whether it's ovals, road courses. There's a demand for both, and I don't know whether or not by combining or everybody going one way, what is going to happen to some of the venues.

“I think that one of the things over the years that usually happens in our type of racing, it's either where they get the tire manufacturers or the engine manufacturers that put a lot of money in the sport, and usually the money goes to the bigger teams—the teams they feel like they are going to have the most success with. It hurts the little guy.

The IRL was kind of formed with a basis that they were going to try and have a level playing field that was going to be equal and smaller teams could start up, and that they could grow the series. It seems like that's all turned around now. You know, the big automotive companies are pumping money into that series now; and therefore, the big teams follow that way.

Now, what happens to the little guys over there, I don't know. And it's just whichever one is going to survive, or is it just going to flip positions and they were going to go through the same thing all over again? It's a hard scenario to figure out, because I'm sure some of the real supporters in the IRL, you know, over the past six years are going to be kind of left by the wayside, because the cost there is going to escalate similar to what it was in CART. By the same token, the CART cars are going to go down.

“It's not a healthy situation, I don't think, for open-wheel racing, but where it all ends up is still, I think, far from being determined.

Asked whether he believes CART should just focus on being a road course, street course series and let the IRL be the oval series that both can thrive in the long run, and do you feel eventually there has to be some consolidation?

“The thing about CART vs. the IRL, the IRL needs a lot more car count. They need 38 or 39 or 40 cars, because otherwise—at Indianapolis, especially—you don't have your pole day or your bumping day and so forth like that.

“The CART series can more or less get along with a lot fewer cars, similar to what Formula 1 is, where they have 20 or 22 or 18 cars. With the street circuits and a lot of the courses that we run, actually space is a big problem and the fewer cars you have, the better off you are.

“So, whether or not you can gather that many cars for both series, I mean…where is the money going to come from for all of these cars? I think that's the biggest problem with open-wheel racing today because it is divisioned; that does become an issue with both series.

McGee added that Patrick, for its part, will be staying in CART with its current driver, Oriol Servia, and remains interested in expanding to two cars—finances permitting.

“We definitely would like to run a second car next year,” McGee said. “We have the capacity here and the equipment and everything. It's a matter of dollars and cents and whether or not from a business standpoint we can find the sponsorship and the money to run a second car.

You know, I'd love to have Jimmy Vasser as a teammate with Oriol [Servia]. Jimmy drove for us last year, did a great job, but we had his typical bad luck in a lot of issues. I think he and Oriol would be a great combination.

“Again, you know, there's a lot of talent out there right now, and a lot of great guys looking for rides. The driver issue isn't the problem, but we would always want to make sure that we had a good fit between Oriol and whoever else.”
 

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Discussion Starter #8
With all the drivers switching to CART, maybe owner may finally turn to the Toyota Atlantics for new talent. Gee, they all let Buddy Rice, Tony Renna, and Dan Wheldon go and now look at how well they are doing over in IRL.:rolleyes:
 

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2kPreludeSH said:
With all the drivers switching to CART, maybe owner may finally turn to the Toyota Atlantics for new talent. Gee, they all let Buddy Rice, Tony Renna, and Dan Wheldon go and now look at how well they are doing over in IRL.:rolleyes:
yea...but they are doing so well due to lack to talents from the competition. plus the oval racing is not the same as the road courses.
i still believe that CART will attract new talents. with the low cost next few years this will open up more opportunities for new drivers.
 

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CART is all Ford next year right?
SO what's the point of watching CART?

Hopefully honda can learn with IRL and put it in their F1 cars.
 

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What is there to learn in the IRL to help the F1 program besides the being normally aspirated? The Honda that competes in IRL is quite different from the Honda that competes in F1. By IRL rules, it seems they put a limit on technology where as F1 allows for quite of an advancement. It should be the other way around, as the IRL engine should be benifited by technology found in F1. The actual engines that are used in CART and soon to be IRL are made in the United States. So its pretty much a Honda of America thing. The IRL Honda engines for next year are going to be created with the help of Illmor Engineering. In F1, its mainly Honda of Japan that designs the engine in cooperation with their teams.
 

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And now it’s Andretti
Well, look at what the Indy Racing League’s cat dragged in: Michael Andretti, among the strongest of CART supporters when Tony George split North American open-wheel racing with the formation of his new league. Andretti and his famous father Mario each took their respective shots at George and the IRL during the early years of this Family Feud and now it’s The Kid, who turns 40 next week, who is switching sides. He will field a three-car IRL team next season while driving alongside Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan. Isn’t it amazing what Honda money can do?
The long-rumored deal was announced by the soon-to-be new Andretti Green Racing team on Sept. 17. Andretti, who has won a record 42 CART races and the 1991 series championship, figures to drive at least through the Indy 500, which he has failed to win in 13 unlucky tries despite leading more laps than any of the non-winners.

But Andretti was humble in announcing his switch. “Things change,” he said. “Life changes.”

In this case, Honda changed. The Japanese manufacturer announced in May its plans to jump to the IRL in 2003. It didn’t have a team signed (except Fernandez Racing’s committed car for Shinji Nakano) for next season before wooing Andretti and the boys. No one is sure of the price tag, but Franchitti surely won’t take a pay cut to race 16 oval tracks next season.

Franchitti is making an estimated $5 million this year, and surely Andretti isn’t taking a step back on his W-2s either. And that doesn’t even count Kanaan, or the team’s 80-some employees and the payments on its sparkling shop in Indianapolis.

Andretti and team co-owners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree are expected to keep Motorola, Archipelago and 7-Eleven as associate sponsors. Kool announced it is terminating its motorsport sponsorship program at the end of this season.

While Andretti’s move was driven by sponsorship (uh, we mean Honda), the shift in the political game is now so apparent that everyone, including Carl Haas, can see it. The IRL has scored every major win in the past year, and should get all of Chip Ganassi’s cars (as many as four) and maybe both of Morris Nunn’s along with one from the Haas shop, at least, for 2003.

CART’s official response to the Andretti move: “We will concentrate our focus on growing [CART] and cultivating the talented drivers and teams that are coming through the CART ladder system of driver development.”

The only thing interesting from the Andretti press release was that it has an “exclusive” contract with Honda. A red flag for the IRL? Nope, vice president Brian Barnhart said. It just means the team can’t switch. It just so happens Honda doesn’t have another team signed up yet, Barnhart said, but it has to make engines available at a prescribed cost to anyone interested.

Sorting through
At least the Andretti defection to the IRL leaves CART’s 2003 driver roster only slightly less muddled.

With Franchitti out of the picture, Ganassi driver Bruno Junqueira will land at Newman-Haas Racing. Yet it’s not clear who Junqueira’s teammates will be. Newman-Haas has proposed a third car in co-ownership with Mario Andretti, and as of CART’s race in Rockingham, England, the da Matta-to-F1 buzz had regained its legs.

CART points leader Cristiano da Matta had consistently downplayed talk he’ll leave Newman-Haas for Toyota’s Formula One team. In Denver, he made it clear he wasn’t pleased with the salary Toyota was offering. Yet insiders say both he and Toyota re-thought the position and the deal to go to F1 is all but done. Apparently da Matta’s father, a multiple touring car champion in Brazil, is pressuring him not to pass up the opportunity.

A Toyota official in North America insists all the company offered Newman-Haas in exchange for da Matta is a free supply of IRL engines. If that’s true, it wouldn’t have gotten anything done; it wouldn’t get da Matta out of the final year of his contract at Newman-Haas, and alone it wouldn’t put Newman-Haas in the IRL. The team would still need a budget, and as of yet it hasn’t secured a full sponsorship quota for CART, where it’s already committed next season. There must have been more to the deal.

What else?
A fine season in CART has earned Patrick Carpentier a third Player’s/Forsythe entry next year: He will join teammate Alex Tagliani and new hire Paul Tracy. Yet team owner Gerald Forsythe says he hopes to add a fourth car, so that could create another driver opportunity.

Patrick Racing’s endorsement of driver Oriol Servia for the balance of this season should keep the Spaniard in that car in 2003. But Patrick, too, has rumbled about adding another car. At Rockingham, team owner Morris Nunn said he still hopes to keep his CART entry going next season. If he does, he will need to replace IRL-bound Tony Kanaan.

No one expects Ganassi Racing back in CART next year. Scott Dixon could move with the team to the IRL, but Kenny Brack, who had a one-year contract, won’t. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean Brack is staying in CART. Either way, with at least a couple of new teams joining the series next season, there are likely to be seats available. The question is who might fill them.

BAR F1 test driver Darren Manning’s impressive debut on the Rockingham oval should move him up the list of quality candidates. IRL rookie Tomas Scheckter, a road racer by trade, isn’t accounted for for next season. Several competent Toyota Atlantic drivers, including champion Jon Fogarty and others who might bring money, could move up to CART. Regulars Jimmy Vasser and Michel Jourdain could stay put at Team Rahal, but the team still has no secure sponsorship deals for next season. Familiar suspects such as Max Papis, Memo Gidley, Roberto Moreno and Townsend Bell are waiting in the wings.

The safe prediction? CART’s driver/team roster won’t be settled until the cars line up for the 2003 season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, next February.
 

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Hey...I saw on RPM 2Night that Bernie Eccelstone is talking to Pook about buying CART and turning it into a American F1 road course only series. Before he said he would buy if the stock goes low enough. Well, its at 4 dollars per share and that'll prolly be the lowest it can get. If that happens, I think CART will get a huge backing from the FIA thus making it a more prestigious series. Of course, not as much as the real F1. Imagine CART with road courses only, no more limiting boost and no similarities to the IRL. It would be great.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I saw that too and I think that would be bad ass. It would be kinda like ALMS and LeMans. CART running V-10s, yikes :eek: Damn I would love to see Tony George's face when that happens.;)

BTW, I think they should run atleast one or two ovals just to be different compared to rest of the series.
 
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