HIGHLAND PARK, Ill., (December 17, 2001) -- President and CEO of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, Vicki O'Connor, announced today the members of the 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic All-Star team. The All-Star team was selected by 12 media representatives, the Atlantic drivers, and one celebrity voter. This year's celebrity voter was Robin Yount, Hall of Fame shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers, and co-owner of Atlantic team, P-1 Racing. The three Atlantic All-Stars join five All-Stars from the CART FedEx Championship Series to make up the eight-member team.
2000 Champion, Buddy Rice, who drove for DSTP Motorsports, made the inaugural Atlantic All-Star team along with Daniel Wheldon and Rocky Moran Jr. With the inclusion of Joey Hand, who won the 2001 Rookie of the Year award, DSTP Motorsports becomes the only team to place its driver on the All-Star team each year. Hand, 22, from Sacramento, California, finished third in the 2001 Championship with wins at Vancouver and Houston while also earning a pole at Laguna Seca.
"This is truly a great honor to be selected to the All-Star Team," said Hand, who is the only All-Star set to return for the 2002 Championship. "I'm really excited about it not only because of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic people who did the voting, but also because I hope to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest Atlantic drivers before me who were part of last year's All-Star team. While this is an honor for me, it's really a reflection of the hard work that everyone on the DSTP Atlantic team put in this year. We ended the season on a very high note, and we hope to keep it rolling into next year."
The team will be honored, as well as revealing the order of finish with voting totals for each All-Star, at the All-Star Celebration during the soon-to-be-announced CART FedEx Championship Series Sneak Preview 2002.
This year's champion, Brazil's Hoover Orsi, joins Hand on the team after a stellar 2001 season. Orsi's three-race win streak during the meat of the season, propelled himself and his team, Hylton Motorsports, to their first ever CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Orsi, 23, captured the Championship by scoring 187 points, 56 ahead of second place, David Rutledge. Orsi scored a total of five victories with wins coming at Milwaukee, Cleveland, Chicago, Trois-Rivieres, and Road America. When not achieving the top spot on the podium, Orsi was never far from it; as he finished in the top-three in eleven of the season's twelve events. Orsi also added four poles which came in succession at Chicago, Trois-Rivieres, Road America, and Vancouver.
"I'm really proud to have been voted onto the All-Star team," said Orsi. "This is a result of an almost perfect season. I'm also honored to be a part of the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) team. It's pretty nice to receive all of these awards, but the most important thing for me right now, is to find a ride in CART FedEx Championship next year."
Rounding out the 2001 All-Star team is Vancouver, Canada's David Rutledge. Rutledge, 23, edged out Joey Hand by two points for second place in the Championship. In his fourth full season with the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, Rutledge took the checkered flag first three times with wins coming at Long Beach, Montreal, and Toronto. Rutledge's three poles came at the same tracks, as well.
"I'm honored and happy to have been named to the CART All-Star Team along with such a talented group of current and future champ car drivers," quoted Rutledge. "A driver is just the most visible part of a team, and I'd like to thank Lynx Racing and all the people and sponsors who've helped along the way for making this possible. Three wins from the pole and three podium finishes in a series as competitive as Toyota Atlantic is a pretty good season, and the full effects of what we achieved are still revealing themselves. Hopefully this award will be another big step toward my goal of becoming a driver in the best open-wheel racing series in the world, the CART FedEx Championship."
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and the top rung on CART's "ladder system". It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Barron, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.