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Team Andretti on the cards?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI is expected to announce shortly that he is moving to a new CART team next year, probably in league with his father Mario Andretti, the 1978 Formula 1 World Champion. The new team is expected to be linked in some way with Team Kool Green although we expect that this will only be an arrangement whereby Andretti's team is operated out of the Team Kool Green premises in Indianapolis.

This is an obvious step towards the Andrettis running a team of their own in CART in 2002. Green cannot easily be involved beyond that as the CART franchise system allows for only two cars per owner. Having said that there is nothing to stop Green becoming a shareholder in an Andretti operation as fellow team owner Bruce McCaw is a minority shareholder in the new Mo Nunn Racing in addition to owning PacWest Racing. This means that the Andretti team could get the benefit of Team Green engineering and preparation skills which would be a big help for any new team. Running his own team, MichaelÊAndretti could also compete in the Indianapolis 500, a race which he has yet to win and which he cannot win at the moment with Newman Haas as the team has shown no interest in contesting the race, which is run by the Indy Racing League.

After one year of operation a team competing in CART is eligible to a franchise which provides travel money and a share of other race-related income such as TV money. It is worth noting that Adrian Fernandez is also expected to announce the formation of his own team shortly.

This will open up two drives in CART: one with Newman Haas and the other with Patrick Racing. The Newman Haas drive is expected to go to Cristiano de Matta, who is currently under contract to Cal Wells's PPI Motorsports but is trying to negotiate a buyout. The Patrick Racing drive will probably go to Johnny Herbert. It remains to be seen who will drive the other CART seats but Bruno Junqueira is expected to sign for Chip Ganassi this week and Formula 3000 frontrunner Nicolas Minassian is also tipped as a possible CART new boy. It is also possible that Alexander Wurz may look to the United States as there does not appear to be a drive open for him in F1 at the moment.