IRL: Team Rahal signs Yasukawa for two races

Roger Yasukawa to drive Team Rahal's Honda car at Japan and Indy 500 in 2004 IRL Indycar Series. HILLIARD, Ohio (Jan. 20, 2004) - Team Rahal announced today that it reached an agreement to field a Honda-powered Panoz G-Force/Firestone car in two...

Roger Yasukawa to drive Team Rahal's Honda car at Japan and Indy 500 in 2004 IRL Indycar Series.

HILLIARD, Ohio (Jan. 20, 2004) - Team Rahal announced today that it reached an agreement to field a Honda-powered Panoz G-Force/Firestone car in two races for 2003 Rookie of the Year runner-up Roger Yasukawa in this year's IRL IndyCar Series.

Yasukawa, 26, from West Hollywood, Calif., will drive in the IndyCar Series events at Twin Ring Motegi on April 17 for the Indy Japan 300 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 30 for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

Yasukawa competed in all 16 races in the 2003 IndyCar Series for the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing team and finished twelve of the 16 races. He placed second to Dan Wheldon in the final Rookie of the Year standings. Yasukawa's best 2003 finish was seventh at Kansas City, Kan., and Fontana, Calif.

Yasukawa, who placed in the Top Ten on seven times in 2004, will be the second driver for Team Rahal at Japan and Indy along with young American driver Buddy Rice, who is replacing the injured Kenny Brack prior to the former IRL and Indy 500 champion's return to the seat of the Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Honda G-Force. Team Rahal plans to announce sponsorship of Yasukawa's car at a future date.

"I am thrilled to be able to join Team Rahal," said Yasukawa, who placed 12th in last year's final IndyCar Series points. "Being able to run the Indy Japan and Indy 500 with Team Rahal is a fantastic opportunity for me and I really want to thank Honda for helping me put the deal together. Last year was a learning year for me. Now this year I must challenge to win races. Team Rahal and Honda will have a strong package for me. I was very impressed with the team after my first visit last week. Obviously Team Rahal has a first class operation and I am hoping to learn a lot from Bobby's (Rahal) experience as a former Indy 500 winner. I am looking forward to working with Buddy as a teammate. At the same time, I wish Kenny a speedy recovery and I am looking forward to seeing him at the track very soon."

"Adding Roger to our lineup for Motegi and Indy is a tremendous asset for Team Rahal," said Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 champion. "Roger showed plenty of potential last year in his rookie season in the IRL and his working with Buddy and Kenny will help him and our team overall for two of the most important races for us this year. Kenny previously won at Motegi and Indy and he has a great knowledge of those tracks that can assist both Roger and Buddy. Roger brings a strong professionalism and enthusiasm to our organization. His working with Honda adds to our preparation for those events. We believe the new Honda G-Force car will be a strong package this year."

"We are pleased that Roger and Team Rahal were able to put this program together, giving us the opportunity to continue our relationship with Roger," said Robert Clarke, Vice President and General Manager of Honda Performance Development. It was a pleasure to watch Roger's progress during his rookie IndyCar season last year. He is an intelligent, talented driver, and we believe his association with Team Rahal will be a productive one for him, the team and Honda."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Robert Clark