T.E. McHALE: Thank you. Good afternoon to everybody. Thanks to all of you for being with us this afternoon. Our guest today is driver Buddy Rice of DSTP Motor Sports; the winner of the 2000 Toyota Atlantic Championship. ...
T.E. McHALE: Thank you. Good afternoon to everybody. Thanks to all of you for being with us this afternoon. Our guest today is driver Buddy Rice of DSTP Motor Sports; the winner of the 2000 Toyota Atlantic Championship. Good afternoon, Buddy, congratulations on the Championship and thanks for being with us today. BUDDY RICE: Thank you for having me on. T.E. McHALE: In his third season of Atlantic competition, in his first with DSTP Motor Sports, Buddy, the driver of the No. 27 Toyota Swift scored 185 points to finish 26 ahead of series rookie Daniel Wheldon who took runnerup honors with 159 points. Buddy built his Championship on five victories at Miami, Long Beach, Cleveland, Trois Rivieres and Road America, and two pole positions at Miami and Trois Rivieres. He finished 10 of 12 event and remarkably was on the podium at each event that he finished taking second at Miami, Toronto and St. Louis and third at Laguna Seca and Houston. Buddy recorded the fastest race lap at 6 of the 12 events and led an impressive 222 for 47 percent of the 471 race laps contested this season. With that, we will open it up to questions for Buddy.
Q. Buddy, just update anything new as far as what went on with Chip's team last week or anything in the future as far as CART related? BUDDY RICE: Right now my future is still up in the air. I am still talking with the Target/Chip Ganassi team. I am also talking with other teams and looking at other options, but as of right now nothing has changed too much. I am still in talks with people, but I haven't solidified anything yet.
Q. Buddy, did you think that with one year with DSTP racing you would be able to win the Championship at the beginning of the year? BUDDY RICE: Yes, I did. That was -- our whole goal was to go out and win the Championship. Even though it was a new team, there were mechanics on the team that I had been with for a couple of years and I knew very well. Also I was still with my same engineer. And I also -- we brought to the table with Housing (ph.) engines and also Penske Racing sharks (ph.) in with us and I knew we had a very solid chance winning the Championship being with my same engineer and those people were still on board with us. We had a very solid group of people and I mean, the biggest thing with Penske sharks (ph.) and my engineer and everybody kind of being together, I didn't think it was going to be a problem. That is what we basically came to do was to win the Championship.
Q. As the Toyota Atlantic Champion, is TRD Toyota race and development helping you in any way to secure a Champ Car right with the Toyota Power Champ Car team? BUDDY RICE: Yeah, I think Les Unger and the folks over at TRD are -- definitely they want to see somebody from their series move up to Champ Car, so I know that they have talked to some people for me. I know they have been putting my word out on trying to get me a champ car ride. Do I know specifically exactly who they are talking to or who they said anything to, no. But I know they have definitely tried to help me out as much as I can to help me solidified a ride for next year.
Q. I read somewhere about the possibilities of you possibly running in the F-3000 League. How true are those? BUDDY RICE: Really I guess it was -- you are referring back to the Petrobras F-3 ride?
Q. Yes. BUDDY RICE: I haven't talked with them, no. T.E. McHALE: Buddy, we are going to let you get to your meeting on time, I guess. BUDDY RICE: Well, thanks. T.E. McHALE: We do appreciate you taking the time to be with us this afternoon. Thanks to all of you who took the time to join us. Buddy, again, congratulations on your Championship and we look forward to seeing you -- seeing what your plans are for next season once they became a little bit more into focus. BUDDY RICE: Thank again for having me and you should be hearing something here shortly hopefully. T.E. McHALE: Thanks again to all of you who joined us this afternoon. We wish you a pleasant good afternoon. And we will talk to you next week.