THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP Rounds 1 & 2, Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented By Toyota Homestead-Miami Speedway March 24-26, 2000, Homestead, Fla. EVENT: The season-opening race weekend, Rounds 1 and 2 of the 12-event CART ...
THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP Rounds 1 & 2, Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented By Toyota Homestead-Miami Speedway March 24-26, 2000, Homestead, Fla.
The season-opening race weekend, Rounds 1 and 2 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, held on the 1.4125-mile combination oval/road course at the Homestead-Miami Speedway during the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota weekend. The series kicks off its 27th season with a double-header event, Round 1 on Saturday and Round 2 on Sunday, prior to the FedEx Championship Series race.
The CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic Championship is a key rung on CART's "Ladder System" and is 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, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
<pre> ATLANTIC SCHEDULE AT HOMESTEAD: Friday, March 24: Practice 9:30 a.m. - 10:10 a.m. Qualifying (race 1) 12:50 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25: Practice 8:00 a.m. - 8:40 a.m. Qualifying (race 2) 12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. RACE #1 4:45 p.m. (50 laps/70.62 miles) Sunday, March 26: Warm-up 8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. RACE #2 11 a.m. (50 laps/70.62 miles) </pre> SEASON PREVIEW:
The "Millennium" class of the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is an interesting mix of 'seasoned' Atlantic veterans and heralded rookies, some of which are on the same team. PPI Motorsports' Andrew Bordin of Woodbridge, Ont., is the top returning Atlantic veteran, finishing third in the '99 points battle and second in '98 season, and is eyeing his first Atlantic title. His PPIM teammate last season, Anthony Lazzaro, captured the Atlantic title, and the California-based team is looking for two straight championships. Ironically, one of Bordin's top threats might be PPIM teammate Dan Wheldon, the 1999 US F2000 champion from England, who has been impressive in preseason testing.
Atlantic veterans Buddy Rice, now with the newly formed DSTP team, William Langhorne of Active Motorsports, David Rutledge of Lynx Racing, Alex Gurney of All American Racers, J.F. Veilleux of Michael Shank Racing, Mike Conte of Lynx Racing, and Rocky Moran, Jr., also are some of the top returning Atlantic veterans that could seriously challenge for the 2000 title. Aside from Wheldon, there are several top rookies entering the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2000, including Martin Basso and T.J. Bell of Michael Shank Racing and Pete Mercier of World Speed Motorsports.
ATLANTIC HISTORY AT HOMESTEAD:
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has competed twice previously at the Homestead Miami Speedway in 1996 and 1997, both years utilizing a similar combination oval/road course.
In 1996, Atlantic rookie Lee Bentham (who went on to win the '98 Atlantic title) took the pole, but it was fellow rookie Tony Ave who notched the victory. A year later, Chuck West (owner of Atlantic team World Speed Motorsports) stepped into a Ralt RT-40 he prepared and earned the pole position. Anthony Lazzaro (who went on to win the '99 Atlantic title), however, took the victory in the 1997 event.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship participated in the Miami Grand Prix (street-course) events in 1992 and 1995 as well.
NEW IN 2000:
The Swift 008.a chassis is the only chassis eligible for the 2000 season of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. There will be no C2 class this year.
Toyota Motor Sales USA returns for its 12th season as the series' primary sponsor. Yokohama Tire Corporation returns as the 'presenting' sponsor, with additional support from Toyota Racing Development, Inc. (TRD USA, Inc.) and MCI WorldCom.
Toyota once again will sponsor the $1,000 Toyota Pole Award at each event for the fastest qualifier. MCI WorldCom returns as sponsor of the $1,000 'Fast Pace' award for the race's fastest lap.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday's Round 1 race from Homestead on Saturday, April 1, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Monday, April 10, at 8 p.m. in each of the regional time zones. Sunday's Round 2 will be televised on ESPN2 on Saturday, April 8, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET, with CTV SportsNet airing the race on Monday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in each of the regional time zones.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues with Round 3 on Saturday, April 15, at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.