FACT SHEET THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP Round 3, Miller Light 225 June 1-2, 2001, The Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Event Round 3 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be held on the 1.032-mile Milwaukee...
THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 3, Miller Light 225
June 1-2, 2001, The Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Event Round 3 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be held on the 1.032-mile Milwaukee Mile oval, as the weekend's opening event at the Miller Lite 225. Saturday's race will mark the ninth time since 1993, the Atlantic series has competed on the historic track in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Race Series The CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic Championship is a key rung on CART's "Ladder System", and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART Champ car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve. <pre> Atlantic Milaukee schedule Thursday, May 31: Testing 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Testing 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Friday, June 1: Practice 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Practice 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. Qualifying 4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Saturday, May 5: Warm-Up 8:55 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. RACE 3:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (65 laps/67.08 miles)
Despite the fact that he is still searching for his first career Atlantic win, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) comes into the Milwaukee race with the early season points lead. Two strong runner-up finishes at Long Beach and Nazareth, have allowed Orsi to take a narrow one-point lead with 32 points. "I'm gonna try as hard as possible to win the race, but if I'm not able to do it, I will try to get as many points as possible," said Orsi. The second-year Brazilian driver continues to put up favorable stats on oval tracks including a third place finish in Milwaukee last year. Orsi might have had the strongest car in Nazareth, but could never put a serious charge on series veteran, Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) who went on to win the race from the pole. Ave's win allowed him to move to second place in the points just one shy of Orsi. In 1997, Ave finished fourth in Milwaukee after starting the race on the outside of the front row.
Long Beach winner, David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) currently stands in third place in Championship points with 28, four points behind Orsi. The team has had their problems trying to find speed on the ovals in the past and that continued in Nazareth earlier this month with a seventh place finish. The good news for Rutledge is that only 1/4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is run on ovals this season. The Grand Prix of Montreal lays ahead on the schedule next where Rutledge won his first career Atlantic race last year. He has shown that he is a force on road courses; and if he can hold his own in Milwaukee, the favor of the championship could fall back in his court.
"Nazareth was certainly not what we hoped for as a follow-up to our victory at Long Beach, but we now believe we know what happened to keep the car from performing properly and we'll be working to confirm that during the Thursday test day at Milwaukee," said Vancouver's David Rutledge. "Our difficulties at Nazareth, taken along with the problems that many top teams and drivers had during qualifying for the Indy 500, send a clear message that going fast on an oval is not nearly as easy as it looks from the grandstands."
Defending race champion, Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) will be trying to repeat his win from last year, thus getting back into the championship mix. Expectations were high for Basso and his team but they have struggled to find the necessary speed to keep up in the first two races and currently find themselves in seventh place in Championship points. Although the Argentine driver came away with points at Long Beach and Nazareth, the 6th and 8th place finishes were short of where the team had expected to run. If Basso can repeat his trend from last year, he should be able to get back into the championship hunt. Following a 21st place DNF during Round 3 at Long Beach, Basso clicked off eight straight top-5 finishes including the win at Milwaukee.
"I think it's really hard to win the Atlantic championship because there are so many good teams and talented drivers, but I think we can do it," quoted Basso. "We didn't have very good finishes in the first two races, but there are still 10 more races to fight for the championship. Our next race is at Milwaukee and we won there last year, so we feel pretty good about going there. After that we go to Montreal, which is a very nice race track that is interesting and I like a lot, so I'm looking forward to racing there again and hopefully being on the podium."
Basso's teammate, Mexican rookie, Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) is coming off his first podium finish of his Atlantic career at Nazareth. Lavin finds himself fourth in points and leading the rookie of the year standings. Although Lavin is a rookie in the series, he is no stranger to the Milwaukee Mile, running it four times with the Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
"Right now we are fourth in the standings with 20 points, so I'm feeling very, very happy," said a pumped up Lavin. "The car feels really good and I'm extremely pleased with the Shank team, which works very professionally all the time. Obviously, after doing so well at Nazareth we're looking forward to having a good result in Milwaukee. I ran there four times in Indy Lights and I like the track. It's a flat oval and if you have a good car you can pass at the end of each straight. I think we have a very good set-up for the ovals and Martin won at Milwaukee last year, so we're going to try and do the same thing."
Two more rookies will be trying to continue their early season success. Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) and Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) currently sit fifth and sixth in points respectively. Hand started out the season strong at Long Beach leading five laps before finishing third in his debut event. Macri turned in a solid run at Nazareth finishing fourth.
Rocky Moran Jr. (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) continues to add to a very impressive streak dating back to the start of the 2000 season. After finishing on the lead lap two weeks ago in Nazareth, Rocky has now completed every lap turned in 14 straight races for a total of 568 laps. Not only is this a true testament of Moran's skill as a driver, but also to the durability of the Toyota 4A-GE engine that is used by every competitor in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Moran hopes to add 65 more laps to the total this weekend in Milwaukee. Moran currently stands 9th in the championship standings with 11 points.
Stephan C Roy (P-1 Racing/Momo Swift), is coming off his career best Atlantic finish at Nazareth, and hopes to continue the oval success he found. Roy's fifth place finish gave P-1 Racing three spots in the top-5 at Nazareth. The finish at Nazareth turned the season around for the Quebec driver after a mechanical failure dropped him out of the season opening race at Long Beach.
Two other drivers were trying to turn their fortunes at Nazareth after disappointing starts at Long Beach but things did not work out for them as it did for Roy. T.J. Bell (Cobb Racing Swift) was knocked out of both races by incidents not of his doing. Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) was one of the fastest drivers in both events during practice and qualifying. Ryley's gearbox broke before the race started at Long Beach, and an accident on the tricky turn 2 bumps at Nazareth got the season off to the wrong start.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will move back to a series of road course races for Rounds 4-6 before running the final oval of the season in Chicago in late July. Round 4 will have the Atlantic teams going north of the border, running in Montreal, followed by races in Cleveland and Toronto.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has raced at The Milwaukee Mile 8 times, dating back to the 1993 season. The previous Atlantic winners at Milwaukee were: Claude Bourbonnais (1993), Greg Ray (1994), David Empringham (1995), Anthony Lazzaro (1996), Alex Barron (1997), Memo Gidley (1998), Lee Bentham (1999), and Martin Basso (2000).
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 3 race from Milwaukee on Sunday, June 10, at 6:00 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, June 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the East and Ontario time zones, 9:00 p.m. in the Pacific and West Zones. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Wednesday, June 13, 3:00 p.m., ONTARIO, Wednesday, June 13, 5:00 p.m., Saturday, June 16, 7:00 p.m., Monday, June 18, 2:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Friday, June 15, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, June 16, 3:00 p.m., and WEST, June 17, 10:00 a.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Tuesday, June 12, at 3:30 a.m. ET.
Next Race The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues with Round 4 on Saturday, June 9, at the Air Canada Grand Prix in Montreal, Quebec.