IRL: Fontana: SA Fernandez Racing preview

Yasukawa confident heading into hometown race The IRL IndyCar Series heads to California Speedway this weekend for the Toyota Indy 400, the second to last round of competition on the 16-race 2003 schedule. Located in Fontana, California, the ...

Yasukawa confident heading into hometown race

The IRL IndyCar Series heads to California Speedway this weekend for the Toyota Indy 400, the second to last round of competition on the 16-race 2003 schedule. Located in Fontana, California, the two-mile D-shaped oval will host a crucial race in the points battle with five drivers vying for top honors in the championship and rookie talents Roger Yasukawa and Dan Wheldon going down to the wire in the Bombardier Rookie of the Year challenge.

Born in Los Angeles, 50 miles west of Fontana, Yasukawa considers the Southern California circuit his hometown race. A pair of eighth-place runs in the past two events, highlighted by strong on-track performances including a battle for the lead with only five laps remaining at Chicagoland just over a week ago, has heightened the momentum within the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing team as well as Yasukawa's confidence.

An eighth-place result at Michigan International Speedway, the last two-mile oval circuit, was unrepresentative of the team's performance that day. Yasukawa was running in fifth position and looked poised to claim his career-best IndyCar Series finish to date. With only 22 laps to go, Yasukawa lost the draft of the lead group after developing an understeer problem. He is looking to pick up where he left off at Michigan this weekend in the 200-lap run to the Winner's Circle at California Speedway.

The Toyota Indy 400 will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 3:30 pm ET this Sunday.

Roger Yasukawa, Driver - #55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone:


* Will be making his 15th IRL IndyCar Series start
* Leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings
* Sits 11th in the championship with 255 points
* Best IRL career start to date was ninth at Gateway International Raceway
* Best IRL career finish to date was seventh at Kansas Speedway
* Started 12th and finished eighth in the last two-mile oval race at Michigan International Speedway

"After the exciting finish in Chicagoland, it is good to be back home for Fontana. I think we are going to have a similar race here. The track is wider and I think the race will be just like Michigan as well. In terms of our speed for the race, we have been quick throughout all of the speedway and superspeedway races recently so I am really confident going into my home race. I am going to have lots of friends and family there, so it should be an exciting one for us."

FAST FACTS: Twenty-five years old from Los Angeles-- began his career at the age of 12 in karts, competing in both the U.S. and Italy before moving up the racing ladder through Formula Vauxhall Junior and Formula Palmer Audi in England, and Formula Dodge competition in the United States-- entered the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the age of 21, earning Co-Rookie of the Year honors-- competed in the Atlantic series last year, claiming a win at Milwaukee and two additional podium finishes in a partial season of competition-- resides in West Hollywood, California.

NOTE: Roger Yasukawa will head to Dodger Stadium this afternoon for the Los Angeles Dodgers versus Arizona Diamondbacks game and a meet and greet with Dodger Pitcher Hideo Nomo. Yasukawa and Nomo share the same fitness trainer, Tatsuya Okawa. Nicknamed "The Tornado" for his distinctive pitching delivery, Nomo is from Osaka, Japan. Media interested in photos of Yasukawa and Nomo can contact Tamy Valkosky, Public Relations, at PR@fernandezracing.com.

-safr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Roger Yasukawa