Festa Earns Pole for Sunday's IRL Indy Pro Series Race With Sixth-Place Finish Today; Bussell Comes Home Fourth

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Saturday, April 1, 2006)
Cheever Racing's Nick Bussell and Chris Festa finished fourth and sixth in today's first of two IRL Indy Pro Series races here this weekend as part of the annual Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Festa, the 20-year-old out of Atlanta, started eighth in the #51 Formtek Cheever Racing Dallara and picked up two spots by race¹s end and, more importantly, will start on the pole tomorrow by virtue of his sixth-place finish. This weekend's unique doubleheader format sets the starting grid for Sunday's race based on today's finishing positions with today's top-six finishers inverted. Bussell will start Sunday¹s race from the inside of the second row, right behind the polesitting Festa.

Bussell, the 23-year-old out of Grand Rapids, Mich., started from the seventh position in the #52 Cheever Racing Dallara and ran a steady race while picking up three positions before the checkered flag. He held of the hard-charging Jonathan Klein in the closing laps to nail down the fourth-place finishing position.

A 10-minute warm-up session is set for 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday, with race time for Sunday's 40-lap event set for 11:30 a.m. EDT. ESPN2 will air coverage of both of this weekend's races next Friday (April 7) at 4 p.m. EDT.


"Well, the good news is that we're starting on the pole tomorrow with this inverted grid format. There's more good news in that I know exactly what we have to do to make the car better for tomorrow's race. I think everybody was wanting to find more grip out there today. I also had some balance issues where I could get a good run on a few cars, but I just couldn't work my way around them in the corners. As the race was winding down, the team told me on the radio that we were running sixth, and there was nobody threatening us from behind, so I just held onto the spot and am glad tomorrow's pole comes with it."


"It was a pretty decent day for us. We picked up a few spots before race¹s end and got ourselves an inside-second-row starting spot for tomorrow¹s race. We definitely need to find some more grip for tomorrow. That was the problem today. The balance of the car is definitely something we can work with. But the grip is what we need the most. We¹ll make some changes tonight and see how things work out in the morning warmup. After that, we'll go racing and try to better today¹s result."