Dorricott Drivers overcome horrid Chicago weather to maintain championship positions. Jon Fogarty stays atop the Toyota Atlantic leader board. CHICAGO, Ill. (June 30, 2002) - - Six races complete ... six races to go ... the only certainty after...
Dorricott Drivers overcome horrid Chicago weather to maintain
Jon Fogarty stays atop the Toyota Atlantic leader board.
CHICAGO, Ill. (June 30, 2002) - - Six races complete ... six races to go ... the only certainty after round six of the 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is all three Dorricott Racing drivers are in the title chase but no driver has a clear advantage. The good news is Dorricott Racing leaves Chicago Motor Speedway with the Atlantic lead, and it survived memorably horrid weather conditions caused by temperatures hovering in the upper 90's and humidity reaching an unhealthy level.
Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., finished fourth to maintain a slim series lead of one point over Canadian Michael Valiante, 74-73. Race honors this time went to Ryan Hunter-Reay, of Boca Raton, Fla., as he scorched the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval for his second win of the season.
Fogarty led the field to the green flag after driving the Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a to his first $1,000 Toyota "Pole Award" on Saturday, and then stayed in front for the first 10 laps before losing the lead to Valiante on lap eleven of the 70-lap race. Valiante's place on top lasted only for a few laps before Hunter-Reay passed the Canadian in Turn 3 on Lap 14 and never looked back.
"Fourth place was a good result all things considered," said Fogarty. "It was frustrating to move backwards after starting from the pole. Had it not gone yellow so many times I think I would have been in a much better position. All three Dorricott cars were running quicker toward the end of the race. I was also close to catching Valiante near the end. I probably would have passed him had there been even one lap more to run. This race has taught me a lot. I had to adjust my driving style to the conditions of the track and other cars. That's always good for building the experience factor. At least I'm leaving Chicago with the Atlantic lead."
Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, had one of the race's most impressive performances albeit the results didn't depict the entire story. Diaz started seventh and finished sixth. However, a poor start from race runner-up Roger Yasukawa, of W. Hollywood, Calif., affected Diaz more than Yasukawa. Diaz was forced to let off the throttle at the race start so as not to pass a stammering Yasukawa at the start-finish line. By seeking to avoid a race-start penalty, Diaz dropped four positions to 11th. By lap 13, Diaz had slipped to 13th.
"I dropped spots at the race start but I don't think it was my fault," said Diaz. "My start was good. Yasukawa, who was in front of me, had a very bad start. I nearly passed him before the start-finish line and had to lift on the throttle to avoid getting a penalty. That cost me a lot because I lost speed and momentum. It distracted me. I had to regain my focus and pay close attention to my engineer's (Gerald Tyler) directions. I knew I had to pass those cars and more to catch up."
Diaz then propelled his Telmex Swift 014.a. through the 23-car field and passed a total of nine cars during the proceeding 57 laps to finish 6th place.
"This was a thinking man's race," said Diaz. "I had to not race the car too much but not be too slow. Considering I dropped to 13th at one point, I think finishing sixth place is pretty good. A key moment was in the middle of the race when I passed Jonathan Macri and Buddy Rice to move from 10th to eighth place. It was a matter of timing. Traffic upset their timing so it allowed me to catch and pass them."
Yasukawa moved into third place with 67 points but Diaz also improved to fourth place overall with 60 points. Hunter-Reay and Californian Rocky Moran Jr. are both 15 points behind Fogarty.
Alex Gurney, of Newport Beach, Calif., started 13th and finished in 10th place. Despite a rocky weekend where Gurney's car discovered a variety of minor mechanical gremlins, Gurney's steady hand behind the wheel of the Castrol/Behr Swift 014.a is the reason he remained in the thick of the Atlantic Championship hunt in seventh place with 55 points.
"I had a good start," said Gurney. "I was able to move up three positions which felt good. I had quite a bit of understeer in traffic and that was a tough deal. At one point I was stuck behind Buddy Rice for a long time and finally passed him when we got caught up in traffic. Afterwards, we ran down the car in front of us. It's always good when you get through these ovals with a complete race. I'm not too disappointed overall. My entire team including my mechanics worked unbelievably hard this weekend to get a hold of everything. I feel good about Toronto next week and the chance to get back into the title chase."
Round seven of the 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held at the Molson Indy Toronto this Saturday, July 6.