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TACH Special: The Andretti Watch Is On

24 August 2000

By David Treffer
Contributing Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
The Michael Andretti watch is now in full force. Will he stay or will he go? When word of his possible departure from Newman-Haas leaked out during the week-end at Mid-Ohio many people scoffed at the notion of his departure. Now that possibility is more than mere speculation. The word coming out of the Newman-Haas camp is that they have made their final offer.

Here are the three scenarios:

1)Andretti wants a two-year commitment from Newman-Haas. The word from Newman-Haas is that they will offer Andretti a series of two one-year contracts with some major financial incentives built into the contract. Andretti, who is now 40 years of age, wants, at the very least, a two-year commitment.

2)Andretti goes to Chip Ganassi Racing. This would make the second time that Andretti and Ganassi have teamed up. Andretti drove for Target/Ganassi after returning from his ill-fated foray into Formula 1. They departed on good terms. Andretti's request for money is not a problem. Ganassi seemingly has a checkbook to match any of the CART teams.

3)Andretti will leave CART to form his own IRL owner/driver team. Don't laugh...this could happen. Andretti has one jewel missing from his otherwise tremendous collection of victories. That one jewel is a victory at "The Indy 500." Andretti may not be as openly passionate as Al Unser, Jr. about winning at The Brickyard but that burning desire is their none the less.

So when will we know the answer? Silly season usually starts around the end of May and lasts until the end of September. However, Andretti is in the enviable position of not having to make a rushed decision. He has amassed a personal fortune through some very smart investing. The fact that one of the top teams in CART wants him should quiet all of the critics who claim that Andretti is "getting old." If that is so then why is he leading the championship points standings?

So we will just have to wait and see how it plays out. A lot of people may laugh but I would not be a bit surprised to Andretti leave for the IRL.

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