Atlantic Drivers Test Well in Preparation For Daytona 24-Hour Race INDIANAPOLIS (January 11, 2005) -- Joining a number of talented road racers, including several stars from the Champ Car World Series, recent graduates of the Toyota Atlantic...
Atlantic Drivers Test Well in Preparation For Daytona 24-Hour Race
INDIANAPOLIS (January 11, 2005) -- Joining a number of talented road racers, including several stars from the Champ Car World Series, recent graduates of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama looked strong this past weekend during testing for next month's Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona.
A total of 14 drivers with Toyota Atlantic experience tested on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway over the weekend as the teams turned in their final preparations for the February 5-6 sports car race.
Two Atlantic series champions put their skills on display in testing as 2004 and 2002 Atlantic titlewinner Jon Fogarty competed for the California-based Flying Lizard Motorsports team while 2000 Atlantic champion and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice tested for the Krohn Racing/TRG team.
Several drivers who just missed claiming an Atlantic series championship also turned in good practice laps at Daytona. Canadian Michael Valiante, who finished as series runner-up in 2002 and earned a Champ Car ride with Walker Racing in the 2004 season finale at Mexico City, joined 1997 Atlantic silver-medalist Memo Gidley on the Ten Motorsports team. The squad will also feature one of last season's top Atlantic rookies, Jonathan Bomarito. Another series second-place finisher - Dan Wheldon, who was runner-up to Rice during the 2000 season, also tested over the weekend.
After finishing in the top 10 in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in both 2002 and '03, Mexico's Luis Diaz will compete in this year's 24-hour race and his squad actually posted the fourth-fastest time among all testing teams at Daytona with a top lap of 1:47.601.
Two Atlantic competitors from last season -- Chris Dyson and Tom Nastasi - also ran over the weekend along with Joey Hand, who finished third in the race for the Atlantic championship in 2001.
A pair of drivers with Atlantic experience and impressive Champ Car resumes also saw their teams record competitive lap times. Paul Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car champion, ran well along with two-time Champ Car race winner Bryan Herta.
Practice for the Rolex 24 will resume at Daytona on February 3 with the race scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. Eastern Time on February 5.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve.