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Tuesday, July 23
Updated: July 26, 8:54 PM ET
What they really meant
By Robin Miller
The news conference with the largest impact of the 2002 open wheel season and beyond didn't offer too many answers to all the questions it begged.
All we learned for sure is that Barry Green sold the majority of his team to Michael Andretti and the new moniker is Andretti/Green Racing.
What we didn't find out could have major implications on the future of the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams.
So, considering I've been to more than enough news conferences during the past 34 years to consider myself an expert on the art of not directly answering questions, allow me to interpret what transpired Tuesday and what will probably happen down the road.
Question: Barry, did you decide to sell your team because of all the turmoil, politics, Honda's decision to leave CART and the Indy 500 decision that went against you?
Barry Green: "Barry Green loves those challenges, that's what I like, and racing has always been an up and down business. Michael and I have been talking about this for some time and I think it's great for open wheel racing to combine the two names."
Translation: "Hey mate, I've got more money than I ever dreamed, a big boat, a family that wants me around more and CART stock is more worthless than a 2002 IRL chassis. Plus, I've had it with CART owners, Tony George, angry sponsors and all the crap that is ruining a sport I always loved. Why did I sell? Are you loony? I'm just thrilled somebody out there wants to buy into this madness."
Q: Michael, which series will you compete in next year as a driver, remembering you once said you had no interest in an all-oval series?
Michael Andretti: "I'm really not sure, it's really going to come down to where my sponsors want me. I'd like to do Indy, I still want to win that race very much. That's all I can really say."
Translation: "I'm almost 40, in great shape, have a gorgeous wife, a growing family and more money than I ever imagined. Drive 16 races in a series that has sent more guys to the hospital than Desert Storm? Run wheel to wheel with a few guys who shouldn't be in pace cars, let alone Indy cars? No thanks. I might run a tune-up race or two before Indianapolis but next May is all I care to do."
Q: Michael, have you decided which series your team will compete in? Could you do both?
MA: "My heart is in CART, I love the series and the format but at this point we really don't know, it's totally up to our sponsors and partners. They will dictate where we go and right now there has been no decision made."
Translation: "My heart may be in CART but my budget is in the IRL because Honda needs this team to battle Toyota and won't be bashful about throwing money my way. KOOL might have been saved if Chris Pook would have taken over CART two years ago but it likes the IRL's American flavor. Motorola also likes CART but has a big business-to-business relationship with Honda. Archipelago likes whatever I do, so they'll be back. And 7-Eleven loved its involvement last May almost as much as KOOL (all its cigarettes got primo positioning in the stores). You do the math."
Q: What about Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy? Will they be back?
BG: "Hopefully, their options will be taken up. Team KOOL Green has invested a lot of money in those two drivers and we'd like to think nothing much would change next year with the cars, drivers and colors. But we need to get our sponsors signed up."
Translation: "If Honda helps with their salaries, like they have in the past and also with Michael's, then money will win out and at least one of them will go to the IRL with us. Player's/Forsythe has been after Paul for a long time and they may outbid us for his services. Neither wants to go to the IRL but Honda has to have a proven winner. Hard to imagine Dario going from a Formula One test to racing a three-quarter mile oval in Virginia but then it was hard to imagine losing our Indy appeal after we watched the replay."
Q: This whole news conference has been very vague. Are you telling us you guys (co-owners Kim Green and Kevin Savory) bought a team with no sponsors or drivers lined up?
MA: "We've got a lot of good sponsors and partners that seem to be happy with us and we're hoping they're going to stay in open wheel racing. Do we have anything in ink? No."
Translation: "I've won 42 races and accumulated a lot of wealth because I'm brave, passionate and talented but I'm certainly not stupid enough to spend my own money on race cars or drivers. Neither is Kim or Kevin. Of course we've already got Honda and KOOL lined up for the IRL but why should we reveal that now? We can milk it for at least one more news conference. Besides, CART has had enough bad news lately. And my dad is already thinking about writing me out of his will."Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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