AMERICAN RACING TALENT CLEARLY ON DISPLAY IN CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP SAN JOSE, California (July 28, 2006) -- As the motorsports community prepares for the unveiling of the future of open-wheel racing this evening with the long-awaited ...
AMERICAN RACING TALENT CLEARLY ON DISPLAY IN CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
SAN JOSE, California (July 28, 2006) -- As the motorsports community prepares for the unveiling of the future of open-wheel racing this evening with the long-awaited debut of the made-in-America 2007 Panoz DP 01 Champ Car in San Jose, the rising American stars of the sport will also shine brightly this weekend.
The Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, North America's premier open-wheel development series, will feature 12 American drivers in action this weekend at the Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose Presented by Taylor Woodrow. With nearly half of the 25-car field hailing from the U.S.A., the Atlantic Championship continues to prove that there's a wealth of homegrown American talent in racing and some of these exciting young stars could soon be racing in the Champ Car World Series. After all, America's top Champ Car racer -- AJ Allmendinger -- is a proud Atlantic graduate and the 2003 Atlantic series champion.
With the new 2006 Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama arriving on the scene to rave reviews and the $2 million champion's Champ Car incentive bonus introduced this year, the Champ Car Atlantic series has seen its level of participation and competition skyrocket in 2006. The series has reached new heights in international appeal with 12 countries represented in series racing so far this season. But no country has featured more talented racers in Atlantic action than the U.S.
Two Americans have already visited Victory Circle in '06 with Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and New Albany, Ohio leading series competitors with three wins on the season. Currently ranked third in the series standings with four races remaining, the 17-year-old son of three-time Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal became the youngest winner in the 33-year history of Atlantics this season. He also has three poles to lead the series, emerging as the top American driver over the first eight rounds of racing.
Robbie Pecorari (#28 Western Union/USA Today/Gelles Racing) of Gelles Racing has also earned a win this season. The 19-year-old native of Aston, Pennsylvania took the lead on Lap 1 in Toronto and went wire-to-wire for his maiden Atlantic victory.
Right behind Rahal in the Atlantic standings is Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Intervision/NetApp/Juniper Networks/Miracle Sealants) of Monterey, California. Ranked fourth in the title chase entering this weekend, Bomarito has been one of the most consistent finishers on the year and he's scored two podium finishes for PR1 Motorsports. He leads an impressive list of eight California drivers that will be racing on the streets of San Jose this weekend.
In 2005, Alan Sciuto (#12 Sealy/PKV Racing/The RoomStore of Phoenix) of Orange, California became the youngest-ever polewinner in series history at age 17. This season, he's matured as a driver and he continues to produce for Polestar Racing Group. His teammate, Alex Barron (#21 The RoomStore of Phoenix) of Menifee, California, is the 1997 Atlantic series champion and he's helped raise the bar for series racers and aided Sciuto is his development this season.
Though born in Brazil, Leonardo Maia (#7 Layer 7/INDECK) grew up in Oakland, California and now lives in Miami, Florida. The 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series champion joined the Forsythe Championship Racing four-car super team in the off-season and he's established himself as one of the most reliable point producers throughout '06.
Bright, young talented drivers like Newman Wachs Racing teammates Joe D'Agostino (#34 Newman Wachs Racing) of Plantation, Florida and Steve Ott (#35 Newman Wachs Racing) of Thornton, Colorado have also shown great promise at the front of the pack this season. After proving himself in Europe as a top American Formula One hopeful, Colin Fleming (#14 Esoles/King Taco) returned to the U.S. to compete in Atlantics earlier this month. The North Hills, California native is preparing for just his second series race, but he already cracked the top 10 in first Atlantic start last weekend.
Justin Sofio (#26 Mathiasen Motorsports/RLM Investments), the 2005 Atlantic C2 class champion and Arleta, California racer, is competing in his second full season of series action for Mathiasen Motorsports. Veteran Brian McAtee (#19 Cosby Oil/Union 76) of McAtee Motorsports is also in his second season and will compete this weekend. Another promising American-born driver, Phil Giebler (#42 Jos. J Albanese Concrete Construction) of Oxnard, California, has joined Gelles Racing and he'll make his second Atlantic series start at San Jose.
While the American Atlantic contingent is certainly a formidable one, the series also boasts a host of fast and determined drivers from across the globe. Top-shelf talent from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand has also competed in Atlantics this season. Canada's James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK), David Martinez (#4 Speedway Motors/Days Inn/Spinnakers), Carlos Mastretta (#8 Tecnoidea/Radiante Digital/Signotech) of Mexico, Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks), Danilo Dirani (#1 Canary Fund/Funcional Card/Sala Design/Perkons) and Alex Sperafico (#10 Mnyx.com/Sperafico Agroindustrial) of Brazil, Venezuela's Ricardo Vassmer (#22 Zoom/Meridiano Television), Ryan Lewis (#30 Insport Sports Management) and Tim Bridgman (#2 Epson) of England, series leader Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne) and Richard Philippe (#33 INDECK/Layer 7) of France, Germany's Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Layer 7/Wirth Solar) and Australia's James Davison (#5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards) will also push the limits of their Atlantic machines at San Jose this weekend.
With such a large talent pool to choose from, it's clear that the Atlantic Championship is poised to continue training and graduating the next generation of open-wheel racing stars.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. In 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. 2006 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger, Katherine Legge, Tonis Kasemets and 2005 Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman are 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 series and to view this season's races on demand, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.