Chardon, Ohio (June 26, 2000) - Suburban Cleveland-based DSTP Atlantic is positioned for a front-running performance in this Sunday's CART Toyota Atlantic race at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by Firstar, part of the CART FedEx ...
Chardon, Ohio (June 26, 2000) - Suburban Cleveland-based DSTP Atlantic is positioned for a front-running performance in this Sunday's CART Toyota Atlantic race at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by Firstar, part of the CART FedEx Championship weekend at the Burke Lakefront Airport temporary road course.
Featuring Atlantic driving standout Buddy Rice, DSTP Atlantic has captured two victories out of five races thus far, in only its first season of CART Toyota Atlantic competition. Rice is currently third in the drivers' championship standings, by virtue of two wins, one second-place finish and one pole position. He also has led the most laps in each of four of this year's races.
"Cleveland is a special race for us," said long-time Chardon resident Jim Griffith, who serves as DSTP's vice president of operations as well as Rice's engineer. "While every race is important, we're hoping to do especially well in front of our friends and family members who will be joining us this weekend. Once the race activities start, it will be back to business as usual. Our game plan is to focus on our own strategy, not worry about what the other teams are doing, and concentrate on finishing on top."
That strategy has served Griffith well in the past. As CART's Toyota Atlantic 1999 Engineer-of-the-Year, he served as the Lynx Racing team's engineer for the past five seasons. His Atlantic record includes two championship titles (1996 and 1997, with Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron), two Engineer-of-the-Year awards (1997 and 1999, Barron and Rice), and one Mechanic-of-the-Year award (1996).
"Jim is recognized as one of the finest engineers in open wheel racing," said Dede Rogers, team owner. "He's built a reputation as a consistent winner, and we'll certainly be counting on his and Buddy's areas of expertise this weekend in Cleveland."
Rice, 24, is no stranger to Cleveland's challenging airport circuit. While the Atlantic series did not run at Cleveland last year, Rice scored his third Atlantic podium of 1998 at the Burke Lakefront Airport road course, finishing third after starting fifth while driving for Lynx Racing.
"Cleveland is one of the fastest and most exciting tracks we race on," said Rice, who moved from his Phoenix, Arizona, home to be close to DSTP's Chardon headquarters this winter. "The runways are so wide that we can make some pretty daring passes that we normally couldn't pull off at other tracks. It also can be a difficult track to set the car up for. The transitions from the runways to the taxiways make it more of a challenge than most tracks. I think we'll be in good shape for this weekend, and I look forward to another strong finish."
Rice rejoined DSTP this year after driving for the team in the 1997 U.S. F2000 National Championship. He moved on to Lynx Racing's Atlantic team for 1998 and 1999 finishing seventh and fifth, respectively, in the series championships. His Atlantic record includes three wins (Nazareth (1998), Homestead (2000), Long Beach (2000)), 17 top fives, 11 podiums, four poles and five fastest race laps.
Rice's racing career began in karts at age eleven, where he won multiple championships including two IKF Grand National and seven regional titles. He made his professional racing debut in 1996's US F2000 National Championship series with the help of friend and Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount. Lynx Racing then supported him at DSTP's F2000 team in 1997, where he responded by taking one win, two poles and five podiums en route to seventh overall in the series championship, before moving up to Lynx's Atlantic seat. Today, his sights are firmly set on the CART FedEx Championship, where he hopes to compete against the likes of Andretti, Tracy and Montoya, as well as his former Atlantic competitor Tagliani.
DSTP was formed by Rogers in 1994 and first fielded a team in the Dodge Shelby Pro Series. The team's initial season resulted in several podium finishes and pole positions leading up to second in the rookie championship. The following year, DSTP made the jump to the US F2000 National Championship pro series as well as selected Hooter's Cup Formula 2000 events with driver Memo Gidley. Although leading the Hooter's Cup series, DSTP elected to focus on the US F2000 National Championship, where Gidley went on to capture three wins and three poles on his way to second in the 1995 F2000 series championship, as well as the Rookie-of-the-Year, Oval Crown Champion and Oval Rookie-of-the-Year titles. Gidley recently campaigned a portion of last year's CART FedEx Championship for the Walker Racing and Payton-Coyne Champ Car teams, then again this year with the Player's/Forsythe team. Another former DSTP F2000 driver, Alex Barron (DSTP - 1996), captured the 1997 Atlantic title in his rookie season with Lynx Racing, then rose to the CART Champ Car ranks, driving in 1998 with Dan Gurney's All American Racers and in selected events last year for Marlboro Team Penske.
This weekend's CART Toyota Atlantic activities begin with practice and qualifying on Friday, June 30, followed by another practice and qualifying session on Saturday, July 1. The 32-lap, 67.392-mile race is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am (EDT) on Sunday, July 2, and is the featured support race to the CART FedEx Championship Series race later that day. It will be televised via espn2 on Saturday, July 8, at 3:00 pm (EDT) with an encore presentation on Thursday, July 13, at 4:30 am (EDT).
Further information is available on the team's new Web site at www.dstpmotorsports.com, or the Atlantic series site at www.toyotaatlantic.com.