Team Rahal's two car Atlantic effort debuts this week HILLIARD, OH . . . After ten races as a single car entry in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, Team Rahal will expand this week to a two car program. Rising open-wheel star Danica Patrick...
Team Rahal's two car Atlantic effort debuts this week
HILLIARD, OH . . . After ten races as a single car entry in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, Team Rahal will expand this week to a two car program. Rising open-wheel star Danica Patrick will continue to pilot the #24 Argent Mortgage/Toyota/Swift, but joining her this week is a familiar face to the Atlantic series, 2002 champion Jon Fogarty.
Fogarty will pilot the #1 Norwalk Furniture/Toyota/Swift in the first of a two-race deal to finish the 2003 season.
"Looking back we probably should have been a two-car Atlantic team this season," said Bobby Rahal, Team Rahal owner. "There is an advantage to multiple cars and that is why you see so many two-car teams. Danica has done a great job, but she has done so without the benefit of experience that a second car could have brought. That is why the addition of Jon should benefit the entire Atlantic program. Jon has a wealth of experience and he is a champion in this series. He can provide additional data and input as we try to finish the season and lay the ground work for next season."
Patrick is excited about working with Fogarty. "We are going to two tracks that I have never run so any input Jon can give me will be a big help," said Patrick. "The mere presence of a second car will help us because we have more data and we in essence double our track time so we can accomplish twice as much in working towards the set-up."
Fogarty has watch Danica develop as a driver this season and knows what the 21-year-old native of Roscoe, Illinois is capable of. "Danica has great drive and determination and she doesn't lack in the aggressiveness on the track," said Fogarty. "Where I think I can help the most is in the technical aspects by helping the team find the right set-up for the cars."
Patrick acknowledges there is one other advantage to having a teammate. "The first person you always want to beat is your teammate," said the competitive Patrick. "You can't help it the first person you look for on the timing sheets after yourself is your teammate. I know Jon will be fast and competitive so I have added incentive over the next couple of races."
PATRICK MAKING SERIES HISTORY
Danica Patrick's third place result in the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico was the first time in the 30-year history of the Toyota Atlantic Championship that a female had finished on the podium. Coupled with the fact that Patrick is the first female to run a full season program, and she is writing Atlantic series history each time she drives the #24 Argent Mortgage/Toyota/Swift.
RETURN OF THE CHAMPION
Jon Fogarty will return to the Toyota Atlantic Championship in the same spot he exited the series a year ago, Denver. "It has been almost a year to the day since I raced," said Fogarty who won the Atlantic season finale at Denver last season. "I haven't been in the car with the exception of the Mid-Ohio test with Team Rahal, so I am concerned I might be a bit rusty. That said I am in better shape than I was a year ago and I have been around the track and in the atmosphere so I think things will come back pretty quickly."
Fogarty won the 2002 championship by winning a pair of races (Monterrey and Denver) and capturing four pole positions. Fogarty has served as a driver coach for Dorricott Racing this season after a ride in Champ Car failed to materialize. "I've missed being in the car and when the opportunity with Team Rahal came up I decided it was time to get back into the car," said Fogarty. "Bobby approached me about testing the car and those discussions evolved into running a couple of races. Not only will I get a chance to help the Team Rahal program with my experience, but I will have a chance to get myself back into the mix as teams are making plans for next year. I am grateful to Bobby and to Norwalk Furniture for this opportunity."
PATRICK LOOKING FORWARD TO DENVER
Argent Mortgage driver Danica Patrick had the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the track at the Pepsi Center two weeks ago when she came to town for an advanced media day. "Qualifying will be important this week as it always is on street courses," said Patrick. "I got to drive most of the track and there are a couple of spots where there appears to be a good passing opportunities. I have heard a lot about how rough and bumpy the circuit was last year, but it appears that they have done a lot of work to smooth out the track. I think having Jon as a teammate this weekend will be a real advantage. He won this race last year so his experience at this track will be a big help to us in finding the optimum set-up for this week."