INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Team KOOL Green owner Barry Green today reaffirmed his team's commitment to Championship Auto Racing Teams and the CART FedEx Championship.
"There's been a lot of speculation in the racing community recently about the plans of several CART teams for next season as well as for the future," said Green. "I want to state as clearly and firmly as possible that Team KOOL Green, along with our technical partner Team Motorola, will be racing in CART in 2002.
"Certainly the 2001 season offered more than its fair share of challenges to CART and its teams," Green continued, "and I'm under no illusions that we won't face additional challenges in the years to come. But CART took some important steps over the past twelve months to strengthen its future, and I'm proud to say that Team KOOL Green has every intention of being a major part of that future."
Green cited CART's new television agreement, CART's new strategic marketing initiative and new events, together with renewed commitments to the series from Bridgestone and series sponsor FedEx as evidence of CART's strong future.
"I'm encouraged by CART's new partnerships with CBS and Speed Channel," said Green. "CBS and Speed Channel are enthusiastic about the prospects of becoming our broadcast partners, and I am sure that enthusiasm will be conveyed to the television viewers.
"CART also put a major effort into creating a business plan that will serve the organization well in the future, and I was tremendously impressed by the work of Rich Henley (CART senior vice president of marketing) in developing a strategic marketing plan together with Arnold Worldwide. Certainly, the new events on the 2002 schedule play to one of the strengths identified in that plan, namely CART's strong track record of staging road and street circuit events in major urban areas. The fact that Bridgestone has chosen to make the CART FedEx championship a major part of their efforts to market the Bridgestone brand in the United States is also very encouraging.
"But to me, the real key is the renewal of our relationship with FedEx. FedEx has been part of the CART series since 1998. They've faced a lot of challenges right along with CART and their decision to continue their relationship with us speaks volumes about their commitment to CART and the future direction of the series."
Similarly, Bert Kremer, Brown & Williamson director of sponsorship, reaffirmed KOOL's commitment to CART and to Team KOOL Green.
"As we do every year, we've taken a hard look at costs and benefits of our sponsorship program, the future direction of the program and at possible alternatives," said Kremer. "In terms of results, this past season was a disappointing one for Team KOOL Green. But we have every confidence that Barry and the team will be in the thick of the championship battle next year and the years to come.
"2001 was also a difficult year for CART. But we believe CART is in the process of laying a sound foundation for future success. We still believe the CART FedEx championship Series produces the most dynamic and entertaining racing in the world, and KOOL is proud to be part of it."
As it did in 2001, Team Green will field a pair of KOOL-sponsored Honda-Reynard chassis for drivers Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy, along with a similar car for Team Motorola and Michael Andretti. While this is the second year of Team KOOL Green's technical partnership with Team Motorola, it marks the fifth consecutive year Franchitti and Tracy have driven for Team KOOL Green in Champ Car competition, making it the longest lived driver/team partnership currently in CART. The 2001 season saw Andretti, Franchitti and Tracy finish third, seventh and 14th respectively in the CART FedEx Championship standings, with Andretti and Franchitti winning one race apiece.
"Team KOOL Green has accomplished a lot in CART - winning 12 races over four years in what is arguably THE single most competitive series in the world," said Green. "You can never afford to be satisfied or complacent and, although everyone on the team worked extremely hard last year, certainly nobody is satisfied with our results. We're all looking forward to a more productive season in 2002."
Team KOOL Green will begin preparing for its first test of the pre-season at Sebring, Fla. on December 11-12.
"With the elimination of in-season testing, pre-season preparations assume critical importance," said Green. "Every day between now and the start of the season is vital, and really emphasizes the value of our technical partnership between Team KOOL Green and Team Motorola."
"We're less than 120 days from the start of the new season and we've got a lot of work to do if we intend to run up front next year," said Tracy, who has 18 wins over 11 seasons.
"Last season was difficult for everyone," he continued. "But it's last season, and I've never been one to look back and say ^Ñwhat if'. I'm focused on preparing for the coming year and doing everything I can to get Team KOOL Green back in the Winner's Circle."
"I'm quite happy to be getting onto the business of the 2002 season," said teammate Franchitti, who scored his seventh career win at Cleveland in July. "Team KOOL Green has the ingredients for a championship team, and the work we do in pre-season testing can really make a difference between finishing first and finishing fifth." (Franchitti's first pre-season test is scheduled for January 7-8, in Sebring, Fla.)
The 2002 CART FedEx Championship begins March 10, in Monterrey, Mexico, and again offers a diverse and balanced challenge to Team KOOL Green and fellow CART competitors. The schedule's 19 races are almost evenly divided among ovals (six), permanent road courses (six) and temporary circuits (seven).
- TKG -