Team Rahal Atlantic Track Talk Miami - Patrick and Fogarty seeking success in 2003 season finale HILLIARD, OH . . . The 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship will conclude this weekend with the Argent Mortgage 100k on the streets of downtown Miami.
Team Rahal Atlantic Track Talk Miami - Patrick and Fogarty seeking success in 2003 season finale
HILLIARD, OH . . . The 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship will conclude this weekend with the Argent Mortgage 100k on the streets of downtown Miami. The 12th and final round of the 2003 season is part of the second annual Grand Prix Americas.
For Team Rahal drivers Danica Patrick and Jon Fogarty the season finale provides the final competition until next season. For Patrick, it will be the final stop of her rookie season and the year long learning process that has seen her solidify her status as one of the rising stars of the sport of open-wheel racing. For Fogarty, the 2002 series champion who is completing a two race stint with Team Rahal, it provides another opportunity for the Palo Alto, CA native to position himself for the annual find-a-ride-sweepstakes in the Champ Car World Series.
Patrick has piloted the #24 Argent Mortgage Company/Toyota/Swift through an impressive rookie season as she enters Miami. She posted a podium finish in her first Atlantic race and has posted nine top-ten results and compiled six top-six results en route to a seventh place standing in the championship. She enters Miami a mere five points behind series veteran Joey Hand and she is focused on claiming the sixth place spot in the final standings.
"It seems like we have been racing against Joey on track and we have been chasing him in the standings over the last couple of months," said Patrick. "The season has been a learning experience from the time we started testing through the last race in Denver. Being a rookie driver to the series on a rookie team has presented some problems, but I am pretty happy with how things have progressed. Bringing Jon on board for the last couple of races has been a huge help. His experience with these cars and with the series has given us insight and helped us work towards the optimal set-up a lot faster. I think we can have a strong weekend at Miami and finish the season the way we started, on the podium."
Patrick's teammate Jon Fogarty would also like to finish the season on the podium in the #1 Norwalk Furniture/Toyota Swift. Fogarty was impressive at Denver, finishing fourth in his first outing with Team Rahal after having not raced competitively for a year. The impressive weekend saw Fogarty shaking off the rust of not having been in a car and regaining the form which propelled him to the 2002 Atlantic championship.
"I was really impressed with how strong the Team Rahal Atlantic program is for a first year operation," said Fogarty. "There is a lot of depth in terms of quality personnel at the team and the car set-ups are right there. We have everything on the Atlantic truck we need to be successful so now it will be a case of fine tuning the car and qualifying well at Miami. Qualifying is always critical for a street race because passing opportunities are at a premium."
FOGARTY DENVER FINISH MATCHES TEAM RAHAL MARK
Fogarty's fourth place finish in the Norwalk Furniture car at Denver equaled Casey Mears and Michel Jourdain Jr. for the highest finish by a driver in their Team Rahal debut. What makes Fogarty's debut even more impressive is that fact that he finished fourth after having not run a race in a full calendar year. Fogarty won the 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship with a win at Denver on Labor Day weekend a year ago. Other than an aborted half-day test with Team Rahal in July, Fogarty had not been in an Atlantic car in 12-months.
Mears ran a single race with Team Rahal in the 2000 season finale at Fontana. Mears pulled a double shift running the Indy Lights race and the Champ Car 500-miler in the same weekend. Jourdain matched Mears mark with a fourth place finish at Monterrey, Mexico in the 2002 season opener.
PATRICK WRITING ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP 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.