CART Toyota Atlantic - Wheldon Test Session

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif., November 30, 1999 - Dan Wheldon's successful race season in 1999 continued with an 'impressive' full-day test-run in a PPI Motorsports-prepared Atlantic car at Buttonwillow Raceway, according to Nick Harvey, the PPI...

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif., November 30, 1999 - Dan Wheldon's successful race season in 1999 continued with an 'impressive' full-day test-run in a PPI Motorsports-prepared Atlantic car at Buttonwillow Raceway, according to Nick Harvey, the PPI Motorsports Atlantic program manager. By winning the U.S. F2000 Championship this past season in his rookie year, Wheldon was granted an Atlantic-series' sponsored test in the same PPI car Anthony Lazzaro drove to the 1999 Atlantic Championship. Wheldon, of Emberton, England, is looking to step up to the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2000, Harvey said his 110 miles of testing on the 1.41-mile test course proved he's ready to make the jump. "Dan's got a lot of promise," said Harvey, who also oversaw last year's test session of 1998 U.S. F2000 champ David Besnard. "His feedback was solid. He's quite impressive. He brings a calm, sensible approach to driving and he thinks both in and out of the car. He's got a lot of ability." After testing on the cool morning track and the warm afternoon circuit, Wheldon said the experience was similar to what he envisioned and clearly understood the importance of his time in an Atlantic car. "The Atlantic car accelerates very, very quickly," Wheldon said, noting that his experience in the U.S. F2000 gave him a good grounding going into the test. "You can brake very late, but not too late. You're constantly changing gears because it accelerates so quickly. When you get into a test like this, you have to hold yourself back a little and judge it perfectly. Not only is it a test, but you're also trying to impress this team, so there's some added pressure. This was a fantastic opportunity with one of the best Atlantic teams. It's like being a kid at Christmas. I have a big 'thank you' for the U.S. F2000 series and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. My goal is to run a Champ Car, so the Toyota Atlantic series and the PPI team definitely would help me get there." Wheldon said he's planning on testing with at least one more Atlantic team but said he was confident he'd find himself competing in an Atlantic car in 2000. "Dan is certainly in the ballpark," said Harvey. "He could do well in these cars from what he showed during the test. He's smart enough has enough natural talent and has the ability to adapt. He could be really good in Atlantics." The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is an integral part of CART's development program, noted for graduating top open-wheel competitors into the upper echelons of racing. Among the racers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are FedEx Championship Series drivers Michael Andretti, Alex Barron, Patrick Carpentier, Memo Gidley, Richie Hearn, Alex Tagliani and Jimmy Vasser, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, and 1997 FIA Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve. For more information on the series, please visit its Web site at www.toyota-atlantic.com or www.toyota-motorsports.com.

-CART-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Dan Wheldon , Danny Sullivan , David Besnard