- Auto Racing - Barnes says report of deal is 'bold-faced lie'

Monday, February 5
Barnes says report of deal is 'bold-faced lie'

INDIANAPOLIS – Reports that Michael Andretti will drive in this year's Indianapolis 500 for Panther Racing of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series are false, according to Panther team owner John Barnes.

Barnes told The Indianapolis Star on Sunday that he hasn't spoken with Andretti, or his agent, since July.

Barnes is denying a report by ESPN that Andretti would sign with Panther in "a couple weeks" but said the team would be willing to talk to the CART driver.

"That isn't to say there isn't an opportunity, but to say we're (currently) talking about a deal is a bold-faced lie," Barnes said.

According to Gary Pedigo, co-owner of Panther Racing, "Every team in this league wants Michael. I've never even met him."

The 38-year-old Andretti is the winningest driver in CART history, but has not driven in the Indianapolis 500 since 1995 – the last year CART participated in the race en masse.

Andretti is in his first season with Team Green in CART and general manager Kim Green said the team does not have plans to participate in the Indianapolis 500 because it has three drivers competing in CART. Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy are the other two drivers for that operation.

Andretti said at the CART "Sneak Preview" in mid-January that any attempts to return to the Indianapolis 500 this year were "unlikely" to occur this year. The driver was in Japan Sunday and could not be reached for comment.


Michael Andretti to race Indy 500 in 2001