CART FedEx Championship teams increase involvement in ladder system; Hunter-Reay picks up second Toyota Atlantic win of the season; Allmendinger and Breuers are mentored by Atlantic teams. INDIANAPOLIS (July 1, 2002) - CART FedEx Championship...
CART FedEx Championship teams increase involvement in ladder system; Hunter-Reay picks up second Toyota Atlantic win of the season; Allmendinger and Breuers are mentored by Atlantic teams.
INDIANAPOLIS (July 1, 2002) - CART FedEx Championship competitors Team Rahal and Patrick Racing both announced over the weekend their further involvement in the CART Driver Development Ladder System. Team Rahal, which had previously signed Danica Patrick, announced that the female driver would be starting her CART career this weekend in the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Molson Indy Toronto. Patrick Racing announced Sunday that it would be supporting Kyle Krisiloff as he begins his Toyota Atlantic career, also at Toronto.
Patrick, 20, had originally signed on to contest the final three races of the Pro Series schedule at Mid-Ohio, Road America and Montreal. A scheduling conflict will prevent her from racing at Road America. However, following a very successful test session last week at Sebring, she and team owner Bobby Rahal decided to also compete at Toronto, Cleveland and Vancouver. In 2003, she will compete in the Toyota Atlantic Championship with Team Rahal.
Rahal sees great results and potential in his new protégée.
"Danica has worked very hard to get to this point," said Rahal. "I have had the chance to help a number of young drivers over the years and it is rare to come across a driver that has her determination and abilities. I feel she has the talent to get to Champ Car racing and she has proven again and again that she is just plain fast."
Krisiloff, a native of Indianapolis, will compete in the remainder of the Atlantic Championship with 21st Century Technology. In addition to Patrick Racing, sponsorship support will come from the United States Grand Prix. Krisiloff recently competed in the National Formula Atlantic Series and was the 2001 SCCA Valvoline Runoffs Champion in the Formula Ford category. Kyle is the son of Steve, a former Champ Car driver himself.
RHR PICKING UP STEAM IN TOYOTA ATLANTICS
After announcing a new sponsor, Autobytel, former Barber Dodge Pro Series standout Ryan Hunter-Reay captured his second CART Toyota Atlantic Championship win of the season and placed himself back in the title hunt with half of the season still remaining. Hunter-Reay, who crashed during the Saturday morning practice period, moved up quickly from his 6th place starting position to take the lead by Lap 14 and never looked back, capturing the checkered flag by 9.067 seconds over 2nd place, Hylton teammate Roger Yasukawa. Michael Valiante, who led early, finished in 3rd place, completing a podium comprised solely of Barber Dodge Pro Series alumni.
Hunter-Reay was able to advance despite a rash of early caution flag periods, including one on the opening lap involving Alex Garcia, Carl Russo and Nicolas Rondet. Russo would continue, but Garcia and Rondet would be done for the day.
Pole sitter Jon Fogarty led the first ten laps before relinquishing the point to Valiante. He would hold the lead for three laps before being passed by Hunter-Reay. Yasukawa would pass Valiante on Lap 34 to take over 2nd place. Fogarty would come home in 4th place, with Scuadra Fortia driver Waldemar Coronas finished in 5th place.
"I just want to thank everyone at Hylton Motorsports," commented the 22-year old from Boca Raton, Fla. "Both Roger's crew and mine helped with getting the car back together after the accident, which took a lot of work. Since we only got ten minutes of practice before qualifying, we used Roger's setup."
"The guys really deserved this victory," continued Hunter-Reay. "It was tough start to the weekend but the result is incredibly satisfying. We've had some rough times this year but I think we are on track now."
Luis Diaz finished in 6th place for Dorricott Racing. Jonathon Macri continued a strong season with a 7th place finish, while Rocky Moran Jr. ended up in 8th place. Rodolfo Lavin and Alex Gurney rounded out the top ten at Chicago.
The tight point battle between Fogarty and Valiante continues following Chicago. By virtue of his pole position and the point earned for it, Fogarty keeps his lead over Valiante by one point, 74-73. Yasukawa, despite missing the season opening race at Monterrey, Mexico is in 3rd place, just seven points back of Fogarty with 67 points. Portland winner Luis Diaz is fourth with 60 points, while Hunter-Reay rounds out the top five with 59 points.
FIRST MENTOR PROGRAM DEEMED A SUCCESS
Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers AJ Allmendinger and Marc Breuers took part in the first CART Mentor Program this past weekend during activities surrounding the CART Grand Prix of Chicago. Allmendinger and Breuers shadowed top Atlantic teams Hylton Motorsports and Lynx Racing, respectively. As part of the program, they were included in all debriefing and engineering sessions, press conferences and were in pit lane during all practice and qualifying sessions as well as the race. Essentially, they became full members of the team for the weekend.
Allmendinger was selected due to being the current Pro Series point leader. Breuers was selected by a distinguished panel of judges following Round 4 at Portland.
"The Mentor Program was great," said Allmendinger. "I was able to see just about everything that goes into being an Atlantic driver and also the inner workings of an Atlantic team. To be able to sit in on the engineering and debriefing sessions was an excellent experience. Without a doubt, this opportunity took a lot of the mystery out of the process. My thanks to Hylton Motorsports and CART for making this happen."
For Breuers, the experience illustrated the differences and the similarities between the Pro Series and the next level.
"The experience was outstanding," commented Breuers. "I want to thank everyone at Lynx Racing, especially Steve Cameron, for taking the time to answer my questions and bring me along the learning curve. While I learned quite a bit, the most important piece of knowledge that I gained is that I can make it as an Atlantic driver."
While there was no direct connection, the teams participating in the Mentor Program enjoyed quite a bit of success. Hylton Motorsports scored a 1-2 finish with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Roger Yasukawa. Lynx Racing and driver Michael Valiante rounded out the podium with 3rd place.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series resumes its 2002 schedule this weekend with Round 5 of 10 at the Molson Indy Toronto. The next Mentor Program will be for top Toyota Atlantic drivers as they travel to Vancouver and spend the race weekend with selected Champ Car teams. Those participants will be announced this week.
Round 7 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto, July 5th-6th.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series returns to action this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto, July 5th-7th.
The Formula Dodge National Championship will return to action with Rounds 9 and 10 at Mont Tremblant, Quebec on August 2nd-4th.