Montreal: Rahal Letterman Racing race notes

Patrick pilots damaged car to fourth at Montreal MONTREAL - Rahal Letterman Racing's Toyota Atlantic duo of Danica Patrick and Chris Festa posted a pair of strong results Sunday in the third annual Molson Indy Montreal. Patrick started third...

Patrick pilots damaged car to fourth at Montreal

MONTREAL - Rahal Letterman Racing's Toyota Atlantic duo of Danica Patrick and Chris Festa posted a pair of strong results Sunday in the third annual Molson Indy Montreal.

Patrick started third and was involved in a first turn incident which left the right front suspension and wing damaged on the #24 Argent Mortgage Toyota Swift. Without a full-course yellow, Patrick had no choice, but to keep driving. The damaged right front made turning left difficult and required several adjustments on the car. After initially losing a couple of positions, Patrick rebound to finish the race strong and to provide some of the race highlights in a 15 lap wheel-to-wheel duel with Quebec's own Andrew Ranger.

"I thought I had a good feel for when Jon [pole sitter Fogarty] was going to go on the start, but I was just a split second off and he got the jump on me and I lost a shot at [second place] Dalziel," said Patrick. "Figge came over and we clipped going through the first turn and that damaged the car enough to where I had a really hard time turning left. I worked the bars and adapted my own driving style and the car improved over the course of the race. It was a good battle with Ranger at the end and I am glad we could get fourth. It feels like the hundredth time we have finished fourth [actually fifth time in ten races]. Those are podiums we lost because of one thing or another. Today if we can avoid contact in the first turn, we might have been on the podium. Fourth is better than fifth, but there are three spots I'd rather be than fourth."

The fourth place finish did not generate enough points to keep Patrick alive in the championship race. Mathematically she was eliminated heading into the final event at Laguna Seca.

Chris Festa drove one of his strongest races of the season and brought home a seventh place effort as a result. Festa started eighth and was also involved in a first lap incident. Fest was punted by rookie Josh Hunt in the final chicane and forced to run drive through the run off. The chief steward ordered Festa to relinquish a position and despite the protests of Rahal Letterman Racing the stewards stood firm. However, justice prevailed when Hunt crashed just as the Steward's decision was communicated to Festa.

Festa's SpacePak/CareCentric car steadily improved over the course of the 25 lap race. He was able to post his fast lap of the race, sixth fastest overall, on lap 23. He showcased his own highlight reel material with a brilliant pass on lap 22 to take seventh from Ronnie Bremer. Festa was closing on sixth, but simply ran out of race.

"This was a strong finish to a good weekend," said Festa. "Hopefully we can take this momentum to Laguna and finish the season on a high note. Danica was able to carry momentum over to this year after a strong finish last season. I am trying to do the same thing and set the table for next year."

Jon Fogarty led all 25 laps and claimed his fifth win of the season and took a five point lead over second place finisher Ryan Dalziel in the championship. With one race to go the championship is still in play between the two drivers who have won nine of the 11 races this season.

The 2004 finale, the Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, is in two weeks.

-rlr-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Andrew Ranger , Chris Festa