Vasser wins for Team Rahal at Fontana. FONTANA, CALIFORNIA . . . Team Rahal's Shell Champ Car driver Jimmy Vasser dominated the California 500, leading 148 of the 250 laps en route to winning his tenth career Champ Car race. The 1996 CART ...
Vasser wins for Team Rahal at Fontana.
FONTANA, CALIFORNIA . . . Team Rahal's Shell Champ Car driver Jimmy Vasser dominated the California 500, leading 148 of the 250 laps en route to winning his tenth career Champ Car race. The 1996 CART champion collected his third podium result of the 2002 season and became the first two-time winner of the California 500 (1998 & 2002). The win was the third 500-mile triumph in Vasser's eleven-year CART career (US 500 at MIS in 1996, Fontana-twice).
"This is the perfect end to a great weekend for Team Rahal," said Vasser, whose Shell pit crew won the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge on Friday afternoon. "The crew guys really worked hard this week and gave me a great car. Considering we came back from Australia with three cars that were piles of junk after the accidents, this is truly amazing. You run these races to win and it has been a couple of years for me since I won a race. The car was fantastic and the Ford-Cosworth proved again that they are tough to beat on the super speedways. After all the hard work these guys put in this week I am just glad I could pay them back with a victory."
The win was the first of the season for Team Rahal and continued the team's streak of winning a Champ Car race every season since 1998. The win was the 14th in Team Rahal history and the first 500-mile race win in the team's history.
"Jimmy was the class of the field today," said Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal. "We have been so close in these races both here and at Michigan. It feels great to finally get a win. I raced against Jimmy and he is pretty savvy driver. He has won here before and he knew where he needed to be on that last lap. Once again Ford gave us a great engine for the speedways. The Ford engine has a lot of horsepower and they have always been fast on the high speed tracks like here and Michigan."
Vasser's teammate Michel Jourdain Jr. led ten-laps in his Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola and appeared to be headed for a podium result when his engine expired on lap 218. The DNF snapped Jourdain's team record point streak at 17 races and ended his consecutive running finish streak at 19 straight races.
Team Rahal is a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Headquartered in Hilliard, Ohio, the team owned by three-time CART Champion Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, currently fields a pair of Championship Cars for 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser and Michel Jourdain Jr. in the CART FedEx Championship Series as well as an entry for Vasser in the Indianapolis 500. The team recently signed rising open wheel star Danica Patrick to a multi-year driving contract. Patrick drove five races in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2002 and will graduate to the Toyota Atlantic Series in 2003 where she will pilot the Team Rahal entry. The 65-member team enjoys primary sponsorship from the Shell Oil Company and the Gigante Group in CART and the Miller Brewing Company for the Indy 500.