The IRL IndyCar Series heads to Gateway International Raceway this weekend for the Emerson Indy 250. Round 11 of the 16-race schedule will kick-off a string of three back-to-back events in a pivotal point of the season as the 2003 championship battle winds down. The 1.25-mile oval, located five minutes from downtown St. Louis in Madison, Illinois, is in its third year of hosting IndyCar Series competition.
Rookie points leader Roger Yasukawa will be chasing his fifth top-10 finish of the season and targeting his first top-five result when Sunday's 200-lap/250-mile race gets underway. A productive test on July 21 has both Yasukawa and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing carrying momentum into the two-day event. With an eighth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway two weeks ago, Yasukawa has moved to 11th in the point standings and will be looking to break into the top 10 this weekend.
Roger Yasukawa, Driver - #55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
* Will be making his 11th IRL IndyCar Series start
* Has a 44-point lead in the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings
* Sits 11th in the championship standings with 177 points
* Best IRL career finish was seventh in Kansas City on July 6
* Best IRL career start was 10th at Homestead and Phoenix
"We had a pretty good test a few weeks ago at Gateway. It is a different track than where we have been recently with a long straight and tight corners in Turns One and Two. It also requires braking and downshifting which we have not done since Motegi. It is a fun track. We were able to get the car to handle well during the test, and I am confident that we will be fast right out of the box. My confidence builds after each race and it is a matter of making less mistakes as a driver and as a team to improve our finishing position. We are working really hard on that. A top-five finish is not too far off 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.