CHAMPCAR/CART: Casey Mears to drive third Rahal car at Fontana

HILLIARD, OHIO . . . Three-time Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) champion and Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal announced today that Indy Lights driver Casey Mears will have the opportunity to drive a third Team Rahal entry for the 2000 CART...

HILLIARD, OHIO . . . Three-time Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) champion and Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal announced today that Indy Lights driver Casey Mears will have the opportunity to drive a third Team Rahal entry for the 2000 CART finale, the Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway. Mears will have the opportunity to pilot the Team Rahal test car with financial backing from longtime Champ Car supporter WorldCom which has been a supporter of Mears' Indy Lights career.

Mears, a 22-year old driver from Bakersfield, CA, is the son of former Champ Car driver Roger Mears and his wife Carol, and the nephew of three-time CART Champion Rick Mears. He currently drives for Dorricott Racing in the Indy Lights Series and is third in the point standings just five points from the lead entering the final race at Fontana. Mears captured his first Indy Lights victory two weeks ago at the Grand Prix of Houston with a dominating flag-to-flag win from the pole.

"I promised Casey he could have a chance to test one of Team Rahal's cars this season and Casey helped us out by testing at Fontana last month," said Rahal. "He certainly proved he is at home in a Champ Car during the test, and through his own dedication and hard work he has assembled the necessary resources with WorldCom for a ride in our test car at Fontana. We are thrilled to help him launch his Champ Car career near his home in California and I am confident that Casey will be a fixture in CART for years to come. He has developed his skills in the CART ladder system and now he is ready to take the step to racing in the world's fastest most powerful cars." The engineering and pit crew for the third entry will be comprised entirely of Team Rahal's test team. Veteran race engineer Ray Leto, Team Rahal's technical coordinator, will guide Mears through his first Champ Car experience.

"It is important that the normal operation of the team goes uninterrupted," said Rahal. "We are fortunate to have the resources at Team Rahal to undertake this opportunity and not effect the efforts of Max or Kenny in their quest for the CART Championship."

"When Bobby promised me the opportunity to test a Team Rahal car during the 2000 season I was thrilled, but honestly it just fueled my desire to race a Champ Car even more," said Mears. "It has taken a lot of hard work both on and off the track to get to this point and I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people for helping me get here."

"We have been pleased with Casey's performances in the Indy Lights Series where we have supported him for the last couple of years," said Andy Deas, WorldCom Director of Sports Marketing. "WorldCom is delighted to be able to help Casey move into the next level of CART's driver ladder system."

"We are proud of our record of graduating drivers from the Dayton Indy Lights Series to the FedEx Championship Series, but a key issue we have faced is getting solid opportunities for our alumni," said Roger Bailey, President and CEO of Indy Lights. "The fact that Casey Mears will be debuting in the season finale at Fontana with a top level Champ Car team in Team Rahal is further proof that CART teams look at Indy Lights for the next generation of drivers. Casey is a great young man and I know he will be successful as he moves into the next phase of his driving career. Mears will join other distinguished Indy Lights alumni in CART that include Paul Tracy (1990 champion), Bryan Herta (1993 champion), the late Greg Moore (1995 champion), Tony Kanaan (1997 champion), Cristiano da Matta (1998 champion) and Oriol Servia (1999 champion). Other notable alumni include Adrian Fernandez (1992 Rookie of the Year) and Helio Castroneves (1997 runner-up).

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Casey Mears , Helio Castroneves , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Bryan Herta , Rick Mears , Roger Bailey , Roger Mears , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta