Danica Patrick set to ascend CART ladder

Barber Dodge Pro Series racer Danica Patrick is ready to step up and contest the full Toyota Atlantic Championship season with Team Rahal. The 20-year-old driver from Roscoe, Ill., who made a big impression with her performance in the Pro Series...

Barber Dodge Pro Series racer Danica Patrick is ready to step up and contest the full Toyota Atlantic Championship season with Team Rahal. The 20-year-old driver from Roscoe, Ill., who made a big impression with her performance in the Pro Series this year, was on the fast track to racing stardom at age 18. After a stint in Europe, Patrick returned to the U.S. and, after winning the Pro Division of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at Long Beach in last April, she was signed by Team Rahal to climb the CART Ladder System. After five races in the Pro Series, her best result a fourth place in Vancouver, Patrick is prepared to jump to the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2003.

"We have put together a good team for Danica in Toyota Atlantic," says team owner Bobby Rahal. "We believe in Danica and she has the talent to make it to Champ Cars. Now we're beginning the preparation for the upcoming season."

"In testing, we have had Danica going against some of the top teams from last year's Toyota Atlantic Championship, and she has run times right with the fast guys like [fellow Pro Series alum] Michael Valiente and Joey Hand," said Rahal. "Of course, she is learning about the cars, engines, tires and the engineering aspect of a downforce car. But that is what testing is for. We want her to work on gaining experience with these cars."

"It's been very exciting to work with a strong team and I am learning a lot of things," said the 5-foot-1, 100-pound Patrick, who recently appeared on the CBS-TV Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn. "The Toyota Atlantic Championship is a very competitive series and I'm looking forward to the racing in 2003. This is an opportunity that I have been waiting for in my racing career. Now I want to show that I belong with a strong team like Team Rahal."

-cart/barber-

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About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Joey Hand , Danica Patrick