CHAMPCAR/CART: Vasser signs with Team Rahal for 2002

MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA . . .CART FedEx Championship Series competitors Team Rahal today announced that Jimmy Vasser, the 1996 CART FedEx Championship Series champion, has signed with the team to pilot its Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola during the 2002 ...

MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA . . .CART FedEx Championship Series competitors Team Rahal today announced that Jimmy Vasser, the 1996 CART FedEx Championship Series champion, has signed with the team to pilot its Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola during the 2002 season. In a press conference held at the Laguna Seca Raceway, owner Bobby Rahal introduced the new driver along with Mike Iribarren, general manager of marketing for the Shell brand*.

In his ten-year Champ Car career, Vasser has posted nine wins, captured the 1996 CART championship, and won over $10 million in prize money. Vasser ranks third among active CART drivers in starts (165), fourth in wins (9) and sixth in poles (7) and laps led (770).

"I have been impressed with Jimmy's driving for many years as we competed wheel-to-wheel on numerous occasions," said Rahal. "In fact, I talked to Jimmy several years ago about joining Team Rahal but timing wasn't right back then. Now, everything has worked out and David (Letterman, Rahal's co-owner) and I are extremely happy to bring this top American driver on board. The Shell car has been a championship contender this year and I believe Jimmy will keep the Shell car in title contention in 2002."

"Bobby and I have talked about this for many years and now it has finally come together," said Vasser, who won the 1998 500-mile race in Fontana, Calif., that was Rahal's last race as a CART driver. "I am very happy to join the Shell team which has proven it is a championship caliber team that enjoys great sponsorship. I think we can be right in the battle for next year's championship."

"We are very pleased to have a champion like Jimmy Vasser joining Team Rahal to drive the Shell Ford Lola in 2002," said Michael Iribarren, general manager of marketing for the Shell brand. "Jimmy is one of the most versatile drivers in the world. He has shown the ability to win on ovals, super speedways and on road and street courses. With a champion like Jimmy and a championship team like Shell Team Rahal, we are looking forward to contending for the CART championship again next year."

An established veteran of the CART FedEx Championship Series, Vasser brings a stellar racing resume to Team Rahal. He has competed in 165 CART events dating back to his rookie season of 1992 when he was the top-qualifying rookie at the Indy 500 and he posted a top finish of seventh at Long Beach.

He joined Chip Ganassi Racing in 1995 and since then Vasser has finished in the top-ten in the final CART standings each season including his championship year of 1996 when he won four races, captured four poles and posted 14 top-ten results and amazingly finished every race.

He followed his championship year by finishing third in the points in 1997, second in 1998, ninth in 1999 and sixth in 2000.

Vasser's versatility has been proven as he had posted victories on all four CART disciplines - streets, road courses, short ovals and super speedways - including Homestead, Australia, Long Beach and U.S. 500 (Michigan) in 1996; Laguna Seca in 1997; Nazareth, Milwaukee and California 500 (Fontana) in 1998 and Houston in 2000.

Vasser's past racing history includes three national quarter-midget titles, the North American Formula Ford championship, SCCA National Formula Ford title and runner-up for the Toyota Atlantic crown.

"The challenge for our team is to continue to build on the success and the momentum that Team Rahal has had during the 2001 season," said Team Rahal co-owner David Letterman. "The addition of a former champion and an established veteran in Jimmy gives us the opportunity to continue to build on the success we have enjoyed here already."

In 2002, Shell will enter its seventh season as a primary sponsor on one of Team Rahal's Champ Cars. Shell first partnered with Team Rahal in 1993 as an associate sponsor. Over the last six seasons the Shell car has accounted for six victories, 12 pole positions and 19 podium appearances in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Team Rahal is a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Headquartered in suburban Columbus, Ohio, the team owned by three-time PPG Cup Champion Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman currently fields a pair of Championship Cars for Max Papis and Kenny Brack in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The 90-member team enjoys primary sponsorship from Shell Oil Products Company and Miller Brewing Company. (10/12/01)

-TR-

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Series INDYCAR