Montreal: Team Rahal preview

Patrick ready for run at historic Montreal HILLIARD, OH . . . Team Rahal's Argent Mortgage Company driver Danica Patrick heads to Montreal this weekend for the third and final Toyota Atlantic Championship race in Canada. This time it is the ...

Patrick ready for run at historic Montreal

HILLIARD, OH . . . Team Rahal's Argent Mortgage Company driver Danica Patrick heads to Montreal this weekend for the third and final Toyota Atlantic Championship race in Canada. This time it is the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that awaits the 21-year-old rising star. Patrick raced her final Barber Dodge Pro Series event in 2002 at the 2.709 mile course, so the first-year Atlantic stand-out knows what to expect. "Having raced or tested on a circuit before is always an advantage in preparing for an event," said Patrick. "Unfortunately there is a significant amount of difference between the Atlantic car and the Barber Dodge car so I will still spend the first laps just getting familiar with the track and the feel in the Argent car.

It has been a thrill for me to race on some of the great and historic tracks of North America this year. I can't let myself get to caught up in the emotion of running a legendary track, because I have a job to do. Still someday I know I am going to look back and have some great memories of running at places like Long Beach, Laguna Seca and here at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve." Patrick comes to Montreal off a frustrating weekend at Mid-Ohio. Patrick enjoyed one of her strongest races of the year at Trois-Rivieres in early August, but the race on Team Rahal's home track seemed to be a bump in the proverbial rookie highway through the Atlantic Championship.

"It was a long weekend and at times it was downright frustrating," said Patrick. "The key for the Argent Team is to not get sidetracked by some of the ups and downs we will face. We made big strides at the test just prior to Trois-Rivieres and we carried that momentum into the race weekend. We stepped back after Mid-Ohio and did an evaluation of what went right and what didn't go right. We had a few curveballs thrown our way with some weather difficulties, but the bottom line is we did improve the car over the weekend and I have said all along that is my goal every weekend, to show improvement." Team Rahal owner and three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal is encouraged by what he sees in Patrick.

"She came into the Atlantic Championship with a lot of attention focused on her, and sometimes that is the biggest burden for a young driver," said Rahal. "She has done an admirable job of dealing with the off track demands and balancing the demands of this competitive series. What is easy to forget is just how young she is, how raw a talent she is and that she is racing against a field that has a lot of experience. I said from the start that we were going to take this slow and gradually build on her experience before we move to the next level. I think Danica has a bright future ahead of her and it is simply a process of grooming her for the next step."

PATRICK MAKING SERIES HISTORY

Danica Patrick's third place result 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.

TEAM RAHAL STILL LOOKING FOR FIRST CANADIAN WIN

Team Rahal was founded in 1992 as Rahal/Hogan Racing and in the team's 26 previous trips to Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Trois Rivieres), the team has never won. Five times Team Rahal has finished second in a Canadian race, most recently when Michel Jourdain Jr. was the runner-up at Toronto in early July. Team owner and founder Bobby Rahal holds the other four runner-up results for Team Rahal. Rahal twice finished second at Toronto ('92 & '95) and twice finished second at Vancouver ('93 & '96). The best Team Rahal finish at Montreal was Jimmy Vasser's fifth place finish in 2002. When the Toyota Atlantic program ran in Trois Rivieres last month, Danica Patrick started a season best fourth and finished fifth on the 1.52 mile street course. In the only other Canadian event for the Atlantic program, Patrick finished tenth at Toronto.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Gilles Villeneuve , Danica Patrick , Michel Jourdain