Motor Racing: Making sense of Mansell rumours in the silly season: Newman-Haas team keen for British driver to remain in IndyCars

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The Independent Online
THE 'silly season', the time in mid- summer when the rumour mill reaches full flower, is common to Formula One and IndyCars. Who will sponsor who? Who will drive for who? What engine, what chassis?

Until the i's are dotted, the t's are crossed, the cheques have cleared and the gentlemen have started their engines, nothing is certain. Amid the rumour and innuendo, the fact and fantasy, of the 1993 IndyCar silly season, one thing is clear: if Nigel Mansell wants to drive in IndyCars next year he will be back.

In the paddock, where even the most ludicrous items on the rumour mill are sometimes given credence, the suggestion that another driver, could usurp Mansell's seat at Newman-Haas is met with derision. The reasons are obvious. Mansell wants to come back. He frequently refers to this as his rookie season and mentions that he looks forward to returning to different venues with some experience under his belt.

The race promoters at each venue want Mansell back because his presence on the IndyCar circuit sells tickets. The stands are sold out at every race. The fans are coming to see Mansell. Witness the fact that in Phoenix, when Mansell crashed in practice and departed, the crowd thinned out.

IndyCars want Mansell back. The world, via television, is finding out what a class act the IndyCar World Series is. It is competitive, highly professional, high-tech and high speed, with budgets intentionally kept under control to preserve the competition. Because of Mansell's presence, a new, world-wide, audience for the series is developing. The deciding factor is Carl Haas, the Newman-Haas, team leader. And the bottom line is Haas wants Mansell to drive his car next season because Mansell wins races.

Mansell stated on Thursday that negotiations with the team for next season were proceeding well and that he wants to return. Spokesmen for the Newman-Haas team are declining to comment on the subject. However, Mansell and Haas were due to meet last night. No immediate announcement is expected, but when it comes it will concern only the details of Mansell's return.

Mansell was impressive in practice for tomorrow's New England 200 on the one-mile oval track here. Throughout the day he worked his way patiently up the time charts to end the session second fastest to Raul Boesel. While Mansell's team-mate, Mario Andretti, stayed in the top half of the field, the Briton's other main competition came from Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy, in Penske- Chevrolets, with a mere .8 of a second covering the first 10 positions.