AL UNSER III RETURNS TO ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP, JOINING MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING TO CREATE UNSER/RAHAL REUNION INDIANAPOLIS (March 31, 2006) -- Two of the biggest names in racing will once again be paired together on one team with ...
AL UNSER III RETURNS TO ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP, JOINING MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING TO CREATE UNSER/RAHAL REUNION
INDIANAPOLIS (March 31, 2006) -- Two of the biggest names in racing will once again be paired together on one team with today's announcement that Al Unser III will return to the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in 2006. Unser III, the grandson of racing icon Al Unser and the son of former Champ Car champion Al Unser Jr., will join the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic team this season.
After finishing seventh in the Atlantic championship standings last season, the 23-year-old Unser returns to the series in '06 with the first-year Mi-Jack Conquest squad. There, he'll team with another driver who was born into racing royalty -- Atlantic rookie Graham Rahal, the 17-year-old son of three-time Champ Car title-winner and former Atlantic stalwart Bobby Rahal.
"I'm definitely excited about the upcoming season, joining Mi-Jack Conquest Racing, and I think the Atlantic series is going to be so competitive and fun to watch," said Unser III, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I want to thank (team co-owner) Eric Bachelart for giving me this chance and it's going to be great to work with Graham, especially considering that his dad and my dad were teammates in the early 90s."
Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Rahal teamed up at Galles-Kraco Racing in both 1990 and '91 with Unser Jr. claiming the Champ Car (formerly CART) title in '90. This season, Unser Jr. plans to attend as many Atlantic events as possible to support his son's blossoming career, beginning with next week's season-opening race at Long Beach.
"I'm very happy for Al and very proud of him because he really enjoys racing in the Atlantic series," said Unser Jr., himself a former Atlantic graduate who went on to win 31 Champ Car races in his distinguished career. "Bobby (Rahal) and I have always gotten along really well and he helped me win my first championship in 1990. Now our boys are on the same team and hopefully they can help enhance each other's careers."
Unser III finished among the top seven in each of his 10 Atlantic starts last season for Brooks Associates Racing. He claimed four top-five finishes as he secured seventh place in the series championship. He will test for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team early next week before joining the rest of the talented Atlantic field at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9, on the streets of Long Beach where his father won six times in his career.
Next week Unser III will also participate in the season-opening pre-event media luncheon, Wednesday, April 5 beginning at 11:30 a.m. PT at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation at the Long Beach Airport.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. Beginning its 33rd season in 2006, the championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. Competing in newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, 2006 competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion's bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.