The annals of Champ Car history are filled with names that made their way to the top of the sport by first starting in feeder series such as the CART Toyota Atlantic
Championship, and CART has taken steps to ensure that that legacy is kept alive by announcing testing rules for 2004 that offer incentives for both teams and drivers in the junior series.

The new inducements are designed to reward Atlantic teams that aspire to the Champ Car World Series, and also benefits existing Champ Car teams that give Atlantic drivers a chance to test the 750hp turbocharged machines of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

For 2004, Champ Car teams will have eight days of testing for veteran drivers and twelve for rookies. In addition, Atlantic teams moving up to the Champ Car series will get an extra pair of days, while existing Champ Car teams are eligible for two extra days of testing per car, provided that they use those days to test with a driver that finished in the top ten in the 2003 Toyota Atlantic standings.

"We are making a commitment to the next generation of Champ Car drivers and we expect our teams to embrace the chance to aid in their development," said
CART's senior VP of operations, John Lopes, "We are also creating incentives for our Atlantic teams to move up, which is equally important to our future."

Rules have also been put into place that will ensure that a number of different drivers get the opportunity to test the Champ Cars, as none of the drivers on the list can run more than four of the new test days. Series champion AJ Allmendinger heads the list of drivers that are eligible for the new programme, along with Ryan Dalziel, Michael Valiante, Jonathan Macri, Aaron Justus, Danica Patrick, Joey Hand, Luis Diaz, Alex Figge and Kyle Krisiloff.

Allmendinger is obviously high on several teams' shopping lists for 2004, but could graduate to Champ Cars with the RuSPORT outfit that took him to the Atlantic title in his rookie season. Valiante, too, appears to be spoken for, having signed a provisional agreement that could see him racing for Derrick Walker's eponymous team next season. Patrick has close ties with Bobby Rahal's team, while Diaz has run with both Fernandez Racing and Walker Racing in recent seasons.

CART is also looking at a Spring Training-type of pre-season test, which would include three days of on-track action, with dates and times to be announced in the near future.

 

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