Chardon, Ohio (September 26, 2000) - After clinching the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title just over a week ago at Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis, Missouri, Buddy Rice and DSTP Atlantic are determined to cap the season...
Chardon, Ohio (September 26, 2000) - After clinching the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title just over a week ago at Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis, Missouri, Buddy Rice and DSTP Atlantic are determined to cap the season with a win this Sunday on the streets of Houston, Texas, for the final event of the 12-race Atlantic series, part of the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston CART FedEx Championship weekend.
"I feel like we have some unfinished business to take care of in Houston," said Rice, 24, who drove for Lynx Racing the previous two seasons. "I missed my first year here because I had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, then last year I started on pole, only to have the shift lever break off in my hand just as we were coming up for the green flag. We went on to set the fasted lap of the race, but finished several laps down. This year, with the DSTP Atlantic team, we're expecting some very good things in Houston. With the championship race behind us, the only thing on our mind is winning this weekend. We've been able to run up front in every street race this year and I don't see any reason why we won't be able to do the same in Houston."
Rice wrapped-up this year's championship with five wins, three second-place finishes, one third, two pole positions and six fastest race laps in DSTP Atlantic's first season of Atlantic competition. He relinquished the championship lead only once since taking over at round two in Homestead, Florida, and has led the most laps in seven of this year's races (222 out of 379 completed).
"Winning in Houston and my home state would be the perfect way to cap-off a terrific season," said team owner Dede Rogers, who hails from El Paso. "It is such an incredible feeling to take the championship, especially in our first year in the series. Everyone on the team has done an exceptional job and now we're all focused on having a winning performance in front of our friends, family and Texas fans who will be joining us this weekend."
Instrumental to DSTP's success this season is Jim Griffith, who serves as the team's vice president of operations as well as Rice's chief engineer. Previously, Griffith served as Lynx Racing's engineer for the past five seasons. His Atlantic record includes two championship titles (1996 and 1997, with Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron), two Engineer-of-the-Year awards (1997 and 1999, Barron and Rice), and one Mechanic-of-the-Year award (1996, Carpentier).
Rice rejoined DSTP this year after driving for the team in the 1997 U.S. F2000 National Championship. He moved on to Lynx Racing's Atlantic team for 1998 and 1999 finishing seventh and fifth, respectively, in the series championships. His Atlantic record includes six wins (1998 - Nazareth; 2000 - Homestead #2, Long Beach, Cleveland, Trois Rivieres, Road America), 23 top fives, 17 podiums, five poles and 10 fastest race laps.