Valiante and Maiman score CART ladder victories in Quebec.
INDIANAPOLIS (August 5, 2002) - The Canadian province of Quebec played sole host to a slate of CART Driver Development Ladder System action this past weekend, with the Toyota Atlantic Championship contesting Round 9 at Trois-Rivieres and Rounds 9 and 10 of the Formula Dodge National Championship competing at Mont Tremblant.
In Atlantics, Canadian Michael Valiante scored his third victory of the season, defeating American Alex Gurney by just 0.742 seconds to lengthen his season championship point lead over Jon Fogarty, 123 -104. Marc DeVellis, also a native of Burnaby, B.C. like Valiante, finished an impressive third in his Toyota Atlantic debut. Fogarty, who lost the final podium spot to DeVellis on the penultimate lap, finished in fourth place. Rocky Moran Jr. continued his strong season by rounding out the top five in fifth place.
Valiante led all 45 laps from the pole but was never able to fully pull away from the field. An early caution flag nullified his lead of over six seconds and would keep him within reach of Gurney after the Lap 13 restart. Gurney would keep it close and actually take the lead, albeit for a brief moment in Turn 6 on Lap 36 as the two battled to lap Eduardo Figueroa and David Wieringa. Gurney missed a gear and coasted through the tight left hander, allowing Valiante to return to the lead. Valiante would build his lead up over the next few laps before once again encountering slower cars, allowing Gurney to close the gap to the eventual final margin.
"It was a great race all the way," commented Valiante. "I was able to pull out a gap after the start but it got taken away with the yellow flag. On the restart, I was able to stay in front of Alex. I really got held up by some lapped cars later, which allowed Alex to make an attempt on the lead. Thankfully, I was able to hold him off. Once I got past the lapped traffic, I focused on putting in the perfect lap. All along, I knew Alex was ready to pounce on me if I made any mistakes.
"We definitely had a great weekend," continued Valiante. "My thanks to everyone at Lynx Racing for the job they did this weekend. This gives us a little breathing room in the Championship but it is going to be a battle over the next three races."
In the National Championship, Grant Maiman won his third race of the season from the pole on Saturday at Mont Tremblant, narrowly beating Scott Speed to the checkered flag by 0.399 seconds. Colin Fleming, starting from sixth, moved up to third place for his second podium of the season. Landon Yee, making his first National Championship start in eight months, captured fourth place. Scott Poirier, the championship point leader coming into the weekend, finished in fifth place.
Maiman repeated his winning performance on Sunday, albeit by a different path than one day earlier. Polesitter Yee, who led most of the race, surrendered the lead to Maiman with just two laps to go. Speed continued a strong weekend by finishing on the podium in third place. Ward Imrie and Poirier rounded out the top five. Al Unser earned an impressive sixth place finish after starting 15th.
"This has been an awesome weekend," said Maiman, a 20-year old resident of New London, Wisc. "There still is quite a bit of racing left on the calendar but these kinds of results certainly help the cause. I certainly believe we can win the championship and that effort will get underway again in a few weeks at Carolina Motorsports Park."
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will take a one week break before resuming action for the final three events of the year, beginning with the Grand Prix at Road America featuring the Motorola 220, August 16th - 18th.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series returns to action with Round 8 this weekend at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, August 9th - 11th.
The Formula Dodge National Championship will take a two week break before returning to action with Rounds 11 and 12 at Carolina Motorsports Park on August 23rd - 25th.