INDIANAPOLIS (December 20, 2002) - Newman/Haas Racing will begin its 21st season of CART competition in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in 2003, with the four-time CART championship winning operation set to field another two-car effort. Brazilian Bruno Junqueira made the move to Newman/Haas Racing in the off season, replacing 2002 CART champion and childhood friend Cristiano da Matta in one of the most prominent seats in racing. The team is now closer to naming a second driver after the recent testing this week at Sebring International Raceway's 1.65-mile road course.
Four top open-wheel pilots logged a total in excess of 1,000 miles were driven behind the wheel of two Newman/Haas Racing Champ Cars during the three-day test that began on Monday, December 16. American driver Jon Fogarty, 27, who starred as the CART Toyota Atlantic Champion in 2002, led the quartet of young guns who have their sights set on the challenging Champ Car series.
Fogarty initially developed his relationship with Newman/Haas Racing after participating in CART's mentor program at Vancouver in July. The mentor program was put in place in 2002 in order to give up-and-coming CART Ladder System drivers an opportunity to work directly with teams on the higher rungs of the CART ladder.
"Getting to know the Newman/Haas Racing team this season was definitely an advantage for me going in," said Fogarty. "Winning the Atlantic championship got me the test, but it never hurts when you can build a relationship with a team and its engineers. That was very important. Having the opportunity to test with a championship-caliber team was very exciting. This week was different from the mentor program in the fact that I got to show them what I was capable of behind the wheel of a Champ Car."
Fogarty won two races and drove to four poles in the top rung of CART's established Ladder System, and was joined in the test by 23-year-old 2002 FIA F3000 champion Sebastien Bourdais of France and 26-year-old 1997 F3000 Champion and former Formula One driver Ricardo Zonta of Brazil.
The three drivers shared the bulk of the testing duties while 20-year-old American Bryan Sellers also earned test time in the Newman/Haas machine by virtue of an agreement between Carl Haas Automobile Imports, Dynamic Suspensions and Newman/Haas Racing for winning the 2002 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec championship.
"All four of the drivers that we tested performed admirably under changing conditions at the Sebring track," said Brian Lisles, general manager of Newman/Haas Racing. "We were able to concentrate on each driver's skills during the three days and we believe all of the drivers showed that they're worthy of a position on our team. We've got a tough decision to make in terms of making a selection for a second driver to pair with Bruno this season."