BUTTONWILLOW, Calif., October 26, 2000 - Newly-crowned USFF2000 champion Aaron Justus had an impressive first test in a CART Toyota Atlantic Championship car yesterday at the 1.4-mile Buttonwillow Raceway near Bakersfield, California. Justus,...
BUTTONWILLOW, Calif., October 26, 2000 - Newly-crowned USFF2000 champion Aaron Justus had an impressive first test in a CART Toyota Atlantic Championship car yesterday at the 1.4-mile Buttonwillow Raceway near Bakersfield, California.
Justus, 27, of Crestline, California, earned the full-day, 150-mile test session in an Atlantic car by capturing the 2000 USFF2000 Championship title. He dominated the 2000 season in the USFF2000 Championship Series, where he scored 293 points towards his first championship by 49 points over Ian Lacy. Justus scored five wins in 13 starts, and 4 podium finishes. He obtained eight poles on the season, tying the single season record. The 2000 campaign was Justus' first full season in the USFF2000 Series, as Jerry Forsythe (owner of the Player's/Forsythe CART FedEx team) helped him compete for the Series' title.
Justus said he thought the session went well and he was visibly impressed with his first drive in an Atlantic car. "It's a race car that does what it's supposed to do," he said. "It's got great power, more brakes, more tire, more wing, more of everything! It's twice the race car I'm used to, but by the end of the day I felt very comfortable in the car and working with the Lynx team. My plans for next year are not quite firmed up yet, but I came away from this test knowing that I can be competitive at this level. Running with a team the caliber of Lynx Racing was a great experience and I'd like to thank everyone who helped make it possible."
Under warm sunny skies, with temperatures in the mid-70's, the young American driver showed what he could do in an Atlantic car, turning lap times just half a second off the baseline time set the previous day by Lynx Racing driver David Rutledge.
"Based on what Aaron achieved in the F2000 series this season we expected him to do well in an Atlantic car, and he did," said Lynx Racing team manager Steve Cameron. "He ran the test without making a single mistake, and he was very consistent, at one point running five consecutive laps within 5/100ths of a second of each other. And his feedback was so good we even let him try some development parts that we didn't have time to evaluate before the test. Aaron is definitely ready for Atlantic and its obvious he has the talent to make it all the way to CART."
This is the sixth year in a row that the CART Toyota Atlantic series has provided a test for the USFF2000 champion, most of whom have gone on to race in the Atlantic series. This includes such drivers as Dan Wheldon (the 2000 Atlantic 'Rookie of the Year'), David Besnard (1998), Zak Morioka (1997), Steve Knapp (1996), and Jeret Schroeder (1995).
Last year's test was awarded to Dan Wheldon who went on to do a full season with PPI Motorsports and won this year's Atlantic "Rookie of the Year" award, and finished second in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is a key rung on CART's "ladder system" and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Talgiani, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve.
Lynx Racing, now in it's 10th year of producing some of the hottest young drivers in open-wheel racing, is the only championship-winning racing team/driver development program owned by women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. Graduates of the Lynx Racing program include Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley.