Team Rahal signs FF2000 and kart driver Chris Festa

Chris Festa signs as second Team Rahal Atlantic Driver. HILLIARD, Oh. - Team Rahal, one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America, announced today the signing of 18-year-old Chris Festa as the second driver for the team's 2004...

Chris Festa signs as second Team Rahal Atlantic Driver.

HILLIARD, Oh. - Team Rahal, one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America, announced today the signing of 18-year-old Chris Festa as the second driver for the team's 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship program. Festa will join 2003 rookie sensation Danica Patrick to comprise Team Rahal's two-car full-season entry in the historic Atlantic series.

Festa, a native of Atlanta, Ga., has extensive karting experience, having run over 250 events and having collected 60 victories. Since 2001 Festa has run as a factory driver for Paul Tracy Karting, the same karting team that launched the career of 2003 Toyota Atlantic Rookie of the Year and champion A.J. Allmendinger. Festa and Allmendinger were both involved in the inaugural season of the Stars of Tomorrow competition in 2000. Festa further diversified his driving experience by competing in the 2003 Fran Am 2000 Winter Series and by running the US Formula Ford Zetec Championship for PR1 Motorsports the championship winning team in 2003.

The second Team Rahal entry will be sponsored by Mestek, Inc. of Westfield, Mass and CareCentric an Atlanta, Ga. based company that sponsored Festa in his Formula 2000 program last season. Mestek is a family of 35 manufacturing companies providing heating and air conditioning systems components to the major manufacturers and distributors in the worldwide HVAC industry. CareCentric has been providing software and processing solutions for over 30 years to the home medical care markets and is a pioneer in automation of clinical and medical processing services.

The Team Rahal Atlantic car to be driven by Danica Patrick will once again be sponsored by the Argent Mortgage Company.

"We spent the majority of the 2003 season as a single car team, and we saw the competitive advantage of being a two car team," said Bobby Rahal, Team Rahal co-owner. "To add a second car is important, but you need to add a quality driver, and I think we have done both with the addition of Chris. The quality personnel that we have in place with our Atlantic program and the opportunity to work with a driver of Danica's caliber makes this an ideal situation for a young driver like Chris."

"The opportunity to drive for Bobby Rahal in the Toyota Atlantic Championship will lay the foundation for the rest of my career," said Festa. "To join a front running team with the experience and talent of Team Rahal is a dream come true for a young driver."

Vicki O'Connor, President of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship was thrilled by the news. "I've watched Chris' career for a number of years, and I know that he is ready to step into the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. I'm pleased that Bobby and Team Rahal are giving Chris an opportunity to team with Danica next year, and I expect them to be a formidable team throughout the 2004 season."

As the final step of the Champ Car driver development ladder system, the Toyota Atlantic Championship has graduated nearly 70 drivers to the highest levels of open-wheel racing in the 30-year history of the series. Among the graduates are former Champ Car champions Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser and Michael Andretti.

Team Rahal's Toyota Atlantic Championship program debuted in 2003 as a single car effort piloted by Danica Patrick and sponsored by the Argent Mortgage Company. A second car driven by 2002 series champion Jon Fogarty was added by Norwalk Furniture Company for the final two races. Patrick finished sixth in the championship and scored a pair of podium results, including a second place finish in the season finale at Miami, while Fogarty claimed a pair of top-four results in his two races.

Team Rahal is now in its second decade as one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America. Based in Hilliard, Ohio, the team is co-owned by three-time CART champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman. Currently the team campaigns cars in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series, the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, and the Toyota Atlantic Championship.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , A.J. Allmendinger , Chris Festa , Danica Patrick