Juan Montoya and and the Target Ganassi team do CART proud
by Mark Cipolloni
May 28, 2000

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CART team owner Chip Ganassi took his team into the enemies den with unfamiliar artillery and a rookie driver.  When the dust settled, his driver Juan Montoya totally dominated the 2000 running of the Indy 500.  Montoya and his team took home all the big money and with it lent some credence to what many have said since the CART/IRL split - CART has the better drivers and the better teams, but the IRL has the big race.

Let's take a look at what Montoya's win means to CART and the CART/IRL split:

  1. CART now has the last two Indy 500 champions racing in their series for the remainder of the year - Advantage CART

  2. CART drivers were outnumbered 2 to 31 in the race, yet they finished 1st and 7th - Advantage CART

  3. At all the rest of the CART races this year Juan Montoya will be announced as 'Juan Montoya, this years Indy 500 champion.' - Advantage CART

  4. Except for the Indy 500, all the rest of the IRL races are losing attendance each year.  Many venues have abandoned the IRL (New Hampshire, Dover, Charlotte, maybe Phoenix and Las Vegas, Cleveland) and the remaining ones are losing identity.  Without the last two Indy 500 champions in attendance at the 'other' races, the casual fans will ask, where is the Indy 500 winner?  The answer - racing in CART.  Advantage CART

  5. Critics have said that the Indy 500 was just another race without the CART regulars in attendance.  Now that CART champions Montoya and Vasser raced at Indy, one can argue the race got a boost.  Advantage IRL

  6. The Ganassi Team has won the last 4 CART championships, they were supposed to win the Indy 500.  Advantage IRL

  7. The Ganassi team underscored just how good CART teams are by beating the IRL regulars at their own game with their equipment.  Are the IRL teams good enough to do the opposite?  Could they buy CART equipment and win a CART race?  Doubtful.  Advantage CART

  8. With Roger Penske already committed to next years Indy 500, and Ganassi likely to return, will the other big CART teams be at Indy next year too?  If so, will an IRL team ever win another Indy 500?  Maybe not. If CART teams take home the bulk of the Indy 500 money every year, can the financially strapped IRL teams survive? Advantage CART

  9. Since the CART/IRL split, ex-CART drivers, or current CART drivers, have won every Indy 500.  Wasn't the IRL all about promoting American drivers and American oval track racing?  Drivers with a road racing background have won every Indy 500 since the split.  Advantage CART

  10. Montoya's CART engine supplier, Toyota, will have to endure all the Oldsmobile advertisements about Montoya winning the Indy 500 with their engine.  Advantage IRL

The final tally - CART 7, the IRL 3.  It appears that CART will benefit more than the IRL by virtue of Montoya winning the Indy 500.  But will CART be savvy enough to use it to their advantage, or will the IRL turn a loss into a win with better marketing strategy?

John Menard, owner of the cars driven by Ray and Gordon and an original IRL team owner, said the Ganassi team proved something to him.  "They raised the level of competition to a whole new level. It's certainly going to raise some questions about the ability of the IRL teams to compete with CART."

It should be interesting to see how it all plays out over the next 6 months.

Comments can be sent to the author at contacts@autoracing1.com.

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