Festa, Bussell Salvage Top-10 Finishes in Indy Pro Series Race #2 At Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sunday, April 2, 2006) ­
The IRL Indy Pro Series' first-ever doubleheader race weekend came to an eventful end for the Cheever Racing duo of Chris Festa and Nick Bussell, who salvaged top-10 finishes in this weekend's second IPS race despite on-track mishaps on the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg temporary street course.

Festa and his #51 Formtek/Cheever Racing Dallara started from the pole today after a sixth-place finish in yesterday's opening race. He led the field to the first turn as the race went green, but ended up locking his brakes heading into the hard right-hand corner, and was subsequently tapped from behind and spun. He lost 13 spots in the mishap and found himself playing catch-up the rest of the day, ultimately coming home in the eighth position.

The 20-year-old Festa, of Atlanta, also was involved in a Lap-24 incident with Brett Van Blankers that also collected Bussell in the #52 Cheever Racing Dallara. All three cars were momentarily stopped on course with Festa the first to get away. Van Blankers and Bussell lost a lap before they were able to continue.

Bussell started third today by virtue of his fourth-place finish in Saturday's race. He, too, lost several positions at the start while trying to avoid Festa's spin in Turn 1. Bussell fell back to ninth as a result of that first-turn incident and never was able to make up ground.

Next up for the IPS competitors is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This weekend's races will be broadcast by ESPN2 next Friday (April 7) at 4 p.m. EDT.


"The day was over just as quickly as it started. I got a really good start down the front straight but then locked my brakes heading into Turn 1, got tapped from behind, and that was it. From then on it was all about finishing and getting as many points as I could. It's definitely frustrating because I think the car was really good, mechanically. I was so happy with the balance. I was almost flat through the chicane almost. That's something we can build upon in the weeks leading up to Indianapolis."


"I'm not sure where we would've ended up if we would¹ve stayed clean all day. My car was still in need of grip, which was the case yesterday. Balance-wise, it was okay, but (the lack of) grip was still the thing that held us back. I knew Chris was going to try and get a good jump at the start but I just couldn't get on the gas as quickly as he did. Probably a good thing or else I might have been taken out with him. It was frustrating getting blocked on the track and going a lap down (on Lap 24). But some things you just can't control. We'll take what we got here and move on."