It has been a long three weeks since the disappointing results in Monterrey, Mexico for DSTP Motorsports and their driver, Joey Hand and even a longer year since winning the pole in last year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. In both cases, the...
It has been a long three weeks since the disappointing results in Monterrey, Mexico for DSTP Motorsports and their driver, Joey Hand and even a longer year since winning the pole in last year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. In both cases, the DSTP team came away from the race knowing they were the car to beat, but were unable to post the results to show it.
Even though the mechanical failure in Mexico was a tough pill to swallow, the team remains upbeat and focused on getting back on track for the Championship this weekend. They know they have a team that can win races if they can keep lady luck from mucking things up. Hand had been one of the fastest cars all weekend in Mexico and while leading the fifth lap of the race, a mechanical failure brought a pre-mature end to what should have been a celebration in victory lane.
Good news is that this weekend's event is on the 1.968-mile temporary street course in Long Beach where DSTP has been one of the strongest teams. Buddy Rice won with DSTP in Long Beach in 2000 while Joey Hand put the DSTP car on the podium in 2001, his first ever race with team. The good run looked to continue last year with Hand winning the pole, but on the first lap of the race, he was forced off the track and was never in contention again. Despite last year's showing, Hand knows he will be one of the cars to beat this weekend.
"As far as I'm concerned, I would rather be fast and break than be slow and finish," said Hand. "I think everybody on the team actually feels good about what happened in Mexico. Obviously, we were not happy that we broke while leading the race, but we did what we thought we were going to do which was come in swinging and that's what we did. We led the first three sessions and placed in the top three in the others. That is pretty tough to do in Toyota Atlantic so we feel pretty confident going into Long Beach."
The problems in Mexico have put Hand back in 15th in the Championship with a total of two points. Hand faces and up hill battle to catch points leader, Michael Valiante, who won the 2002 Long Beach race, but confidence is still high that driver and team are up to the task.
"I just want to prove to everybody that this team is as good as everybody thought it was at the beginning of last year and that means lead practice sessions, lead qualifying, and winning races," said Hand. "I'm going for the clean sweep every weekend.
"It is disappointing to start out the way we did which makes it tough to come back," said Hand. "Michael (Valiante) finished every lap last year so we can't really afford more bad luck like we had in Mexico, but if we start piecing together a run of good finishes, the points will take care of themselves."
Round 2 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can be seen LIVE on Speed Channel on Sunday, April 13th at 1:30 p.m. est, 10:30 a.m. pst. Following the Long Beach event, the series take another long break before returning to action at the Milwaukee Mile in late May.
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.