Team conducts first 'bonus' test of 2007 at Milwaukee

For Chris Festa, there's no better place to be than Chip Ganassi Racing. The 21-year-old Atlanta native is in his first season with the team, driving the team's Indy Pro Series effort.

On May 3, he reaped the rewards of Ganassi's involvement in both the Indy Pro Series and the IndyCar Series by testing the IndyCar Series car at The Milwaukee Mile. The test is one of five bonus test days the team will earn in 2007 for running cars in both series.

"It's great," said Festa, who had run more laps in an IndyCar Series car by lunch (15) than he did all of last year (10) when he participated in a Firestone tire test at Kansas Speedway. "It's a lot of fun. I'm just trying to work up to it little by little and not get greedy. Thus far I'm having fun.

"Everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing is great. It's a great organization, great team. Great drivers have driven there in the past. There's so much knowledge there for me to learn from and getting into an Indy car for the first time with them is a great opportunity for me. I can really learn a lot from these guys."

Festa, who shared track time with 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara, was under the watchful eye of team managing director Mike Hull.

"One of the biggest benefits (to Target Chip Ganassi Racing) is Chris Festa," Hull said. "I know that we're granted some testing because we have an Indy Pro Series program, but actually what it does in a very firsthand, first-person manner, it allows us to look at young drivers – of which the first person in this program today is Chris Festa.

"We've been extremely excited about him, his ability. He's a 21-year-old future rising star for Indy car racing. He's already proven that he's able to drive an Indy car. That's a huge benefit for us. It's great to have young American talent in our race car. It doesn't matter where in the world the driver comes from, but we're happy that it's Chris Festa."

Festa, who tested his Indy Pro Series car at The Milwaukee Mile on May 2, returns to competition on May 25 in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He'll race at Milwaukee on June 3.