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Motor Racing | NOTES

CART Picks Up Sponsor

November 03, 2002|Mike Kupper and Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writers

FONTANA — Championship Auto Racing Teams, an organization beset recently by driver and sponsor defections, got some good news, for a change, Saturday when Bridgestone tires announced it was signing on as presenting sponsor for next season.

Bridgestone has been the sole supplier of racing tires for CART this season and will continue in that role next season.

"This is a significant development for us," said Chris Pook, CART's president and chief executive. Federal Express will not be back next season; it has been the series title sponsor since 1998, and Pook said a replacement was being sought. He added that Bridgestone, as a presenting sponsor, would not be required to make as great an investment as a title sponsor.

"I'd like to remind you that a presenting sponsor comes first," said Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone Motorsports. "That's very important to us, to be first in line."

So, although CART's new series title remains to be determined, depending on how successful it is in finding a title sponsor, that title apparently will begin with, "Bridgestone Presents ... "

*

Kenny Brack has no answers. At least, none that he's revealing.

The 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner knows he will drive an open wheel car next season, and that he won't be driving for Chip Ganassi. He's saying nothing more than that.

"There's the driver, team, sponsor and sometimes the engine manufacturer, and no one wants to talk about it until it's time to make the announcement," Brack said. "I'd tell you if I could."

One thing Brack doesn't have to reveal is his level of frustration, because it's obvious. He is in 10th place in the standings.

Brack's average qualifying position is 6.3, and he has started in the front two rows nine times in the first 17 races. He starts 15th among 18 drivers today in the Toyota 500 at California Speedway.

"You look at that, we should be fighting for the championship," Brack said. "We're third in laps led, but in laps completed, we're basically last. That's a terrible statistic.

"We're fast, competitive, but we can't finish races."

*

Injured driver/owner Adrian Fernandez dispelled speculation that his hand was being forced by sponsors to use Mexican driver Luis Diaz as a replacement if Fernandez is unable to compete in the Mexico City race on Nov. 17.

Fernandez's sponsorship comprises mostly Mexican companies.

"This gives us a chance to see into the future," Fernandez said. "It just fits. If I retire one day, Luis may be able to take my place.

"Max [Papis] has done a great job, but Mexico's another case. I've been wanting to test [Diaz] for a while."

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