Andretti to leave Champ Cars?

CART championship leader Michael Andretti says he may not stay with Newman-Haas Racing next year and may even jump from CART to the IRL

Andretti to leave Champ Cars?

Andretti is pushing for a substantial salary increase from Carl Haas for 2001 and also wants to race in next year's Indianapolis 500. Haas says he's reluctant to agree to Andretti's salary demands and is not likely to field a car for the Indianapolis 500 next May.

"There are some interesting possibilities in the IRL and I want to race at Indy," Andretti said. "I'd like to win that race before the end of my career and right now I don't even have the chance."

The 37-year old Andretti is CART's most successful driver with 40 wins to his credit. He's led a tremendous number of laps at Indianapolis but has never won the 500 and like most CART drivers hasn't raced at Indy since 1995.

Although CART has once again left room in it's schedule to allow any of its teams or drivers to race at Indianapolis next year, Andretti doesn't believe it's a practical possibility.

"I don't know how a driver or team can run the CART series and do Indianapolis as well," Michael continued. "This series is tough enough on its own. I'm feeling tired right now after twelve of twenty races. There's a lot of stress on you just doing all the races. You could go to the IRL and do a lot less races. It would be a lot less tiring on you. I don't see how anybody can do this series and do Indy and do both them right."

Andretti is ranked third on the all-time USAC/CART winner's list and said a move to the IRL would also be a way for him to approach the record tally of wins recorded by his father Mario and A.J. Foyt.

Foyt leads the all-time winner's list with 67 wins, the last six of which came in 1979 when he raced in the weakened USAC championship in the first year of CART's breakaway. Mario won 52 USAC and CART races.

"You could win a lot of races over there," Michael grinned. "Foyt did it one year and it helped his total a lot."

Andretti has spent ten of the last twelve years of his career with Newman-Haas, scoring 37 of his wins with the team as well as his lone CART title in 1991. Team owner Haas says he's not optimistic of retaining Andretti for 2001.

"We've talked quite a lot and I've made an offer," Haas said, "but I'm not very happy with the terms. I think I've treated Michael very well over the years and taken good care of him. I'm talking to other drivers, some guys here and some in F1. I've got a list."

Of competing at Indianapolis next year Haas said: "It's not something I'm seriously considering. To do it right would be expensive and it would also be very difficult to properly and not have it affect your CART programme."

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