DSTP TEST IN THE WEST Preseason Testing Places DSTP Motorsports Back in Championship Form Chandler, Ariz. (March 13, 2003) -- DSTP Motorsports kicked its Championship efforts into high gear this past week with test sessions at circuits located...
DSTP TEST IN THE WEST
Preseason Testing Places DSTP Motorsports Back in Championship Form
Chandler, Ariz. (March 13, 2003) -- DSTP Motorsports kicked its Championship efforts into high gear this past week with test sessions at
circuits located in California and Arizona; and from the results, the troubles of last year are a thing of the past.
The team spent one day last week testing at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California before heading to Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona for another two days of testing earlier this week. Capping if off was a final day of testing at Arizona Motorsports Park, before packing up and getting ready for the season opener in Monterrey, Mexico.
Short of taking out a Ouija board and having the team gather around for a seance to scare away the evil spirits, the DSTP crew has pulled out all the stops to find the gremlins that plagued the team during the 2002 season. The hard work has apparently paid off. Damage was found in their primary car over the winter while the team was rebuilding both of their Swift 014.a racing machines. The damage was sustained in a practice accident at the Round 4 Laguna Seca event last season. The hidden damage to the tub of the car left the team scratching their heads for the rest of 2002 trying to figure out just what was going on. With the problem cured, the demons of 2002 seem to be exorcised and hopes are once again high heading into another season.
"Our whole testing program has been pushed back because of the problem we found with the car over the winter, but the delay has paid off because the cars were very good as soon as we unloaded them at Buttonwillow," said Kent Stacy, DSTP Motorsports Engineer. "The cars tuned very well and all the adjustments we made to them worked as expected. It was our first test of the season and we were quite fast right out of the box and we continued to move forward and got faster and faster the whole time. We learned a lot from all the testing and feel pretty solid on where we stand heading to Mexico."
DSTP Motorsports entered the 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship as one of the favorites to take the title and showed they were a team to be dealt with in the season's first two races. Despite being shoved off track in both races, Hand put up good results with a podium finish in Monterrey, Mexico and a pole winning effort in Long Beach. The season was side tracked after a testing incident in Milwaukee knocked Hand out of the car for six races while he recovered from the injuries sustained in the accident. Even though DSTP Motorsports put 2000 Atlantic Champion, Buddy Rice, in the car for five races with Hand finishing out the final four, they never returned to the form that earned the team the Championship in 2000.
With the cars and driver once again in top shape, expectations are high for 2003.
"Everybody on the team was really excited heading into Buttonwillow to see if what we found over the winter was the root of most of our problems last year," said 2001 Rookie of the Year, Joey Hand. "We got the answers we were looking for because we ran the fastest we have ever run on that track. The car was a whole different beast, much more like what it should be. The moral of the team was high before we started to test and now, it is soaring.
The test at Firebird provided an opportunity to see just where they stood as they shared track time with fellow Championship contender, Michael Valiante who was there testing with Lynx Racing.
"Coming here to Firebird, we were really pumped because we got to run with Lynx Racing and try and size ourselves up," said Hand. "They were ahead of us on their testing schedule, so we were excited to find out how well we did. We didn't have them covered, but we sure had something for them," Hand said with a grin.
"I'm very anxious to get to Mexico. I love that circuit at Fundidora Park and we did really well down there last year. I think a lot of people are overlooking us right now based on what happened last year and I like that. I think that has motivated the whole team."
The beginning of the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is less than two weeks away and the entire DSTP Motorsports team feels that they have just as good a shot at winning the title as anybody. From top to bottom, there is an air of confidence that has been missing and has now returned to the levels that propelled the team to their first Championship in 2000. The Tecate Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey on March 23rd will be DSTP's first chance at vindication Through DSTP Motorsports, Dede Rogers has established herself as a true believer in promoting talented young American drivers into professional racing. Formed in 1994, DSTP first campaigned a team in the Dodge Shelby
Pro Series before moving into the U.S. F2000 National Championship in 1995. Such notable drivers as Memo Gidley, Alex Barron, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Jerry Nadeau competed in cars fielded by DSTP before Buddy Rice swept to the Atlantic title during DSTP Motorsports first season in the series in 2000.