Even on a weekend where he seemed to be struggling, Joey Hand proved again that he is one of craftiest drivers in open wheeled racing once the green flag falls. For the second straight race, Hand earned a fourth place finish when it appeared that...
Even on a weekend where he seemed to be struggling, Joey Hand proved again that he is one of craftiest drivers in open wheeled racing once the green flag falls. For the second straight race, Hand earned a fourth place finish when it appeared that a top five might be out of reach.
After moving from his seventh place starting spot to finish fourth last week in Trois-Rivieres, Hand had the same task ahead of him again when the green flag dropped for the Round 9 CART Toyota Atlantic Race at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This time around though, Hand not only earned the fourth place finish, but was in contention for a podium or win throughout the entire 30-lap race.
Unlike most courses where the Atlantic Championship competes, the starting line at Mid-Ohio places the cars heading into Turn 4, or the "Esses" portion of the track, as their opening turn. Hand had a plan for the start of the race and when Michael Valiante and A.J. Allmendinger tangled in Turn 5 of the opening lap, Hand found himself alone on the outside of the turn while his competitors checked up on the inside. The results saw Allmendinger spinning off the course and out of the race, while Hand snatched fourth place before getting to the next turn.
For the remaining laps of the race, Hand hounded the top three trying to earn his first podium since Portland, but could not muster the clean air to make a run at the spots. Valiante continued on after the contact with Allmendinger to win the event, but was followed closely the entire race by Ryan Dalziel, Aaron Justus, and Hand. Jonathan Macri rounded out the top five. Hand nearly placed the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:16.484 seconds (106.281 mph) which was just shy of Macri's time of 1:16.405 seconds (106.391 mph).
After today's race, Hand remains sixth in the Championship standings with 80 points and trails fifth place, Aaron Justus by 17 points with three races remaining. However, today's result was not good enough to keep Hand mathematically in the Championship hunt which is still being led my Allmendinger, but will allow for the DSTP team to go all out to take wins in the final quarter of the season.
Those that missed Speed Channel broadcast of today's race from Mid-Ohio can catch it again on tomorrow, (Monday) at 3:00 p.m. EST.
After a week off, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship returns to action at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on August 22nd and 23rd, followed by the Round 11 race on the streets of Denver, Colorado. The Championship caps off its 30th year of racing in late September on the warm streets of Miami, Florida.
Hand on Sunday's Race:
"My plan worked out good for the start. I told my guys I was just going to hang out through the first turn and then go outside in the following turn and it worked out perfect. I wanted to go outside there and when everybody bottled up inside, it worked bitchin'. I got past several guys there and I don't think they expected to find me in front of them all of the sudden."
"It worked out really well and then at the end, I had a great race car, but we had to pack a lot of wing to get through the corners and that kind of hurt us in traffic. I could not get real close the guys ahead of me, but it looks like everybody was having that problem. Dalziel and Justus got held up together there at the end and I tried to stuff it in there, but I wanted to bring this team home a finish again and keep it the top five in these final races. Hopefully, that will translate to some podiums and wins in the remaining races."
"My engineer, Kent Stacy, did a great job this weekend. He always says to be an optimist and I tell him I'm a realist. I thought we would come in here and have a real difficult time and he told me that it was going to go to the front and it did. The car was probably the best we have had all year since Mexico."
"We keep saying that we are going to make a run for this thing and try to get some wins and I think we are much closer now than we have ever been. We learned a lot of things here this weekend and I can't say enough about the DSTP team and the effort they put in. They worked their butts off for every single session and whether it was right or wrong, they put out the same effort. Also have to say thanks again to Dede (Rogers) for having me."
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.