Andretti praises departing Gurney

American racing legend Mario Andretti has paid tribute to Dan Gurney after the All-American Racers boss decided to pull his team out of the 2000 CART Championship Series

Andretti praises departing Gurney

'It's a big loss, because you're not just losing a team, you're losing an icon,' said Andretti.

'He and Stirling Moss are a special brand of uncrowned champions and he took IndyCar racing by storm in the '70's. He was always a force to be reckoned with.

'He's contributed so much in so many aspects and he's a gentleman too.'

Gurney returned to the series in 1996, running a team of Eagle-Toyota chassis, but was never competitive. He had decided to ditch his self-built chassis and switch to a Reynard-Ford for 2000, but could not find the sponsorship, despite having lined-up Bryan Herta as a driver.

Ironically, the uncompetitive Eagle showed well in a couple of late season runs with Robby Gordon's team.

'Ask Robby Gordon if his Eagle was competitive,' said Gurney. 'The next version was going to be even better, but I guess we'll never know now.'

He hinted that tension may have built up between himself and engine supplier Toyota during the team's final season. Gurney was instrumental in bringing the company into Champ Car racing in 1996.

'Toyota was against us building our own cars, but I wasn't going to shut down this tradition,' he admitted. 'I'm not going to bitch about Toyota, they were good partners for a long time, but the way I see it, Japanese don't make mistakes.'

Gurney suggested that an early return to the CART series was unlikely.

'The idea we're going to come back is pretty slim,' he said. 'We're looking for work inside and outside racing right now.'

The team is being kept intact and is currently doing some work for IRL constructor Riley & Scott.

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