MAY 14, 2005


Abbott, Festa Spot for IndyCar  Series Drivers

By Tim Harms

Saturday May 14, 2005

As the top ladder series for the IndyCar® Series, the Menards Infiniti Pro SeriesT is the proving ground for young open-wheel race car drivers. Running in conjunction with the IndyCar Series at 13 venues provides many opportunities to learn, but there is no better classroom than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all of the activities that surround the Indianapolis 500 in May.

In addition to competing on the famed 2.5-mile oval on the Friday before the 89th Indy 500, two Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers are using the time around the track this month to gain additional experience.

Mishael Abbott and Chris Festa are spotting for IndyCar Series drivers Jaques Lazier and Richie Hearn, respectively.

"Mike Colliver is my engineer, and he's also engineering Jaques' car," said Abbott, who will drive the No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson Motorsports entry in the Futaba Freedom 100. "He knew I was going to be here all month and he asked me if I wanted something to do, so I said sure."

A similar scenario unfolded for Festa, driver of the No. 19 entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, the same team which is fielding Hearn in the Indianapolis 500.

"Spotting has been a great experience," Abbott said. "I've been able to watch Jaques and all of the other drivers from Turn 3 and see how they track through the turns. I'm learning a lot about what lines they drive, and that should help me as I prepare for the Futaba Freedom 100. I'm also able to listen to the communication between Mike and Jaques, and that will benefit me as well."

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers will return to IMS on Thursday, May 26 for practice and qualifying for the third annual Futaba Freedom 100. The 100-mile race starts at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday, May 27.