Well, I guess the question of which series has the best drivers and teams - CART or IRL - was answered Sunday at the Indy 500.
Target/Ganassi team driver Juan Montoya dominated the race like no one since Mario Andretti. The difference is that Montoya's car lasted all the way to the checkered flag.
I'm just surprised that Tony George didn't have the IRL officials throw a bogus black flag on Montoya so an IRL guy could win. As I surmised in last week's column, rain did indeed play a part in the proceedings, delaying the start of the race some three hours, and dampening the victory ceremonies with another shower that started just after the race's end.
Although Montoya is an impressive driver, and mature beyond his 24 years, the Target/Ganassi team deserves a lot of the credit for the victory.
Montoya got the job done on the race track, and his team got the job done in the pits. They consistently serviced Montoya's GForce/Olds a couple of seconds quicker than the competition, even though it was their first time using the IRL refueling equipment.
Including five laps in front for teammate Jimmy Vasser, the team led 172 of 200 laps, qualified second and seventh, finished first and seventh, all after taking delivery of their cars less than 90 days before the race.
With that kind of a team behind him, it's no wonder Montoya looked invincible out there.
-It seems that the IRL concept of "affordable" big time open-wheel racing has taken another hit this year. It became obvious early in the season that the new 2000 model car was going to be a requirement to be competitive.
Unfortunately, many of the smaller teams can't afford the outlay and are falling by the wayside. PDM Racing and driver Sam Hornish Jr. are facing the dilemma, and they will miss the June 10 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Team co-owner Chuck Buckman said lack of sponsorship was the big problem, but they hope to have something in place for Pikes Peak or Atlanta.
The team and Hornish have performed well in the first four races of the year, earning a podium spot at Las Vegas last month. One problem is that insurance on the new cars runs $50,000 to $75,000 more than on the older chassis, and if you don't have insurance you eat the whole enchilada if you write the car off.
Tyce Carlson's team is also undergoing money problems, with Columbus, Ohio, car dealer Jim Immke withdrawing his support after the team crashed several cars at Indy and failed to make the show.
-Speaking of Columbus, that's where I'll be this weekend, performing my announcing duties for an American City Racing League doubleheader in conjunction with the Grand-Am event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. I also plan to be there for the CART race in August. I'll report on my midwest adventure in next week's column.
- The NASCAR Winston Cup rookie battle took another turn Sunday night, with Matt Kenseth taking the advantage over Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Although "Little E" was dominant early on, Kenseth was unbeatable in the final laps. Mark Martin found himself a winner when he decided to sponsor this kid.
The most amazing thing about the Winston Cup season so far is that there has still only been one repeat winner. It just shows how competitive the series is, and how well Tech Chief Gary Nelson has equalized the competition.
However, some of us remember the old days, when Richard Petty won 10 races in a row, and a particular driver or car make used to dominate a season. Those races were no less exciting ... I just wonder if NASCAR hasn't gone too far in pursuit of equality.
- Quote of the week: Mario Andretti (a rabid CART partisan) lambasted Tony George at the "Legends of Indianapolis" dinner the week before the Indy 500. A few days later, it was announced that Mario's son Jeff had signed for a full-time IRL ride with Walker Racing.
A.J. Foyt (a rabid IRL partisan) remarked, "Mario must have cut him out of the will."
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal motorsports columnist.