Two in a row for Hylton at Milwaukee; bittersweet win for Yasukawa and Team. WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2002) -- All weekend long, Atlantic rookie, Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Medlock Ames Winery Autobytel U.S. Print Swift 014.a) was...
Two in a row for Hylton at Milwaukee; bittersweet win for Yasukawa and Team.
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2002) -- All weekend long, Atlantic rookie, Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Medlock Ames Winery Autobytel U.S. Print Swift 014.a) was the man to beat, but it was teammate and fellow rookie, Roger Yasukawa (Hylton Motorsports/Autobacs U.S. Print Swift 014.a) that stole the show in Round 3 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Hunter-Reay dominated the first two-thirds of the 70-lap event, but failed to cash in after a mechanical failure sidelined him on lap 44, enabling Yasukawa to take his first career Atlantic win.
"This is a terrific way to begin the Atlantic series and I am so happy to have been able to give Hylton Motorsports a repeat victory," said Yasukawa. "They did a great job all weekend and gave me an excellent car. I am sorry for Ryan. We were having a battle for the lead and he was very fast. I was really working to conserve my tires so I could fight for the win the whole way through. This has been a terrific weekend and I am very happy."
Despite the bad luck, Hunter-Reay set the fastest race lap earning the $1000 WorldCom "Fast Pace" Award for the second straight race. Hunter-Reay's lap of 24.609 seconds (150.969 mph), broke Grant Ryley's 2001 race record of 24.747 seconds (150.127 mph). Hunter-Reay also led the most laps earning another bonus Championship point, after winning his first of the weekend for winning the $1000 Toyota Pole Award in yesterday's qualifying. The five laps of yellow flag conditions for Hunter-Reay's problem, were the only laps run under caution. The lack of yellow flag laps made this year's Atlantic Championship at Milwaukee the fastest ever since 1993 when the series first raced here. The average race speed was 136.818 mph with the time of the race being 31:40.803.
For good reason, Hunter-Reay was pretty dejected following his disappointing exit from the race. "We dominated the race and I had an excellent car," said Hunter-Reay. "This is an unbelievable shame. We lost a brand new motor this morning and so we had to replace it with a motor that has a lot of miles on it. We knew there was an outside chance this could happen, but we had no choice. My team did such an awesome job this weekend. I feel I drove really well and this result does not reflect our work and dedication. We were able to pick up a couple of points this weekend, but we are not even close to where we should be in the Championship. We just need a little more luck I guess."
It was the second straight win at Milwaukee for Hylton Motorsports after 2001 Atlantic Champion, Hoover Orsi, gave the team its first career victory last year at the legendary one-mile oval. It was also the third straight win on ovals for the team dating back to last year's victories at Chicago and Milwaukee.
Mexico's Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Modelo Swift 014.a) passed American, Alex Gurney (Dorricott Racing/Behr Castrol Swift 014.a) with three laps remaining to take the runner-up spot this afternoon. It was Lavin's best career finish after earning his first podium last year at the oval in Nazareth Pennsylvania.
"It definitely was a very tough, tough race," said Lavin. "I was behind Gurney but it was very difficult to pass him. The Michael Shank Racing team gave me a good racecar, but we were struggling the whole weekend. Finally, we got a second place and I am now looking forward to more podiums this season."
After Lavin passed Gurney for second, Canada's Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Miller Genuine Draft Swift 014.a) followed suit the next lap. Macri edged out Gurney for third for his second career podium after earning his first in the 2001 event at Road America. Gurney went on to finish fourth with Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a) earning this third straight top five finish in fifth. Fogarty holds onto the Championship points lead with 46 points. Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a), who started the race in 17th rallied to finish the race in seventh to hold onto second in the points with 41.
Macri's podium moved him up to ninth in the points. "In the beginning of the race we seemed to have a really quick car," said Gormley, Ontario's Macri. "In the long run we slowly dropped off and picked up our understeer. I was able to make a few changes on the car and got a little faster. Macri dropped from second to fourth on the lap 48 restart, but battled back. "On the restart, I didn't get the best jump when the green waved, but I was able to catch back up a bit. The team really worked hard the whole weekend and they were able to get good results."
"The car was good. I had to make a few adjustments in the cockpit but nothing serious," said Fogarty, who won the season opening event in Monterrey, Mexico. "I turned some respectable lap times but I really struggled in traffic. It was tough to get by people. Naturally, one always wants to win but we struggled a little; not only this weekend but a couple of weeks ago while testing at The Mile. The weather wasn't on our side and it was one of those things where everything wasn't clicking. Regardless, we learned a lot this weekend that should help us at the next oval at Chicago." The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues a brutal stretch in its schedule next week when the series competes in Round 4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at The Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California. The following weekend, it's up the coast to Portland, Oregon for the Series first visit to the Portland International Raceway.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and the top rung on CART's "ladder system", as well as having $100,000 race purses and a one million dollar points fund. It is also 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, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.