Top Toyota Atlantic Championship Drivers To Receive Champ Car Tests, Atlantic Champion To Earn Champ Car Ride in 2005 INDIANAPOLIS (December 20, 2004) -- Recognizing the wealth of talent in recent years from the Toyota Atlantic Championship...
Top Toyota Atlantic Championship Drivers To Receive Champ Car Tests, Atlantic Champion To Earn Champ Car Ride in 2005
INDIANAPOLIS (December 20, 2004) -- Recognizing the wealth of talent in recent years from the Toyota Atlantic Championship and the value of promoting within its own driver development system, officials from the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford today announced initiatives that will further open doors for Atlantic series competitors to graduate into Champ Car.
Recent Toyota Atlantic graduates have proven to be very competitive when given the opportunity in the Champ Car World Series. 2003 Atlantic champion A.J. Allmendinger earned Champ Car Rookie of the Year honors after recording five top-five finishes last season and Atlantic grads Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Tagliani also earned Champ Car wins in 2004. Those are just three recent examples of Atlantic success stories and today's announcement will help ensure that next season's top Atlantic drivers will also get opportunities to shine at the next level.
The driver development initiatives announced today call for some of the top competitors from the 2005 Toyota Atlantic series each to receive a test with a Champ Car team following completion of the '05 Champ Car season. These tests will be by invitation only and the details and format of the testing will be announced during the course of the upcoming season.
In addition, the driver that wins the Toyota Atlantic Championship next season will also have the opportunity to compete in the November 6 Champ Car season finale at Mexico City -- literally earning a one-race Champ Car ride -- to close out their championship campaign.
"Champ Car certainly recognizes the talented drivers that compete year-in and year-out in the Toyota Atlantic Championship and we need to reward that talent and give some of the top young drivers coming up through the system an opportunity to grow and succeed in the Champ Car World Series," said John Lopes, Champ Car Executive Vice President of Operations. "By making sure that the top Atlantic drivers get a chance to showcase their skills in a Champ Car we are continuing to show our commitment to developing the rising stars of our sport within the Champ Car system."
Several Toyota Atlantic graduates have already shined in post-season Champ Car testing in the last several weeks as they endeavor to reach the Champ Car World Series next season. Two-time Atlantic series runner-up Ryan Dalziel was very impressive in a test with PKV Racing in mid November and both 2004 Atlantic Rookie of the Year Andrew Ranger and 2002 Atlantic series runner-up Michael Valiante led the way among six drivers that tested recently at Sebring International Raceway. In all, six Toyota Atlantic competitors have earned Champ Car tests this offseason and several more could continue to test in the coming weeks.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve.