Heading into 1999, the CART Fed-Ex Series was riding high. CART seemed to have gotten the best of the open-wheel split three years earlier. 1998 was a banner year, as 28 cars were at every race that year, and the series had nearly all the best drivers, tracks, and fans in the open-wheel world.
Meanwhile, the Indy Racing League was still struggling, with subpar equipment, a lack of fans, and mostly second-tier drivers (1998 had only two drivers who had won a CART race: Scott Goodyear and Arie Luyendyk).
Despite the losses of Alex Zanardi and Bobby Rahal, 1999 was looking to be another great year. However, over the next three seasons, a series of negative events hit CART so hard that teams, drivers, and tracks left the series, and by 2008, the series was no more, the IRL was on top and open-wheel was unified once again.