Yasukawa scores maiden Toyota Atlantic win at historic Milwaukee Mile; BDPS points leader Allmendinger wins Stars of Tomorrow National event at Primm; Barber CART scholarship drivers to convene at Laguna Seca.
INDIANAPOLIS (June 3, 2002) - Roger Yasukawa outlasted Hylton Motorsports teammate and polesitter Ryan Hunter-Reay as well as the rest of a strong field at the Milwaukee Mile on Sunday to earn his first CART Toyota Atlantic victory in only his second career start, placing himself squarely in the Championship battle. Yasukawa, who started 2nd, battled a dominant Hunter-Reay for the first half of the race, taking the lead on Lap 12 before relinquishing it back to his teammate on Lap 14 as the two negotiated lapped traffic. Hunter-Reay, who lost an engine in the morning warm-up, built a 5.4 second lead before again suffering an engine malfunction on Lap 44 that led to his retirement from the race.
From that point, Yasukawa would show the way for the remainder of the race and lead Mexico's Rodolfo Lavin to the finish by 2.733 seconds. Canadian Jonathon Macri brought his car home a season-best 3rd place, just two-tenths of a second behind Lavin. Alex Gurney led the Dorricott Racing contingent in 4th place, with teammate Jon Fogarty scoring his third consecutive Top Five finish in 5th place.
Lavin, Macri and Gurney brought the fans at the Milwaukee Mile to their feet with their stirring late race battle for 2nd place. Gurney held the spot until Lap 67 when Lavin took the inside lane as the pair headed into Turn 3. Gurney tried to battle back on the outside but could not retake the spot, leaving him vulnerable to Macri, who had now moved himself in position directly behind Gurney. Macri slipped by Gurney on the front stretch on Lap 68 and then set his sights on Lavin. With only two laps remaining, Macri looked for an opening but ran out of time as the checkered flag fell.
"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, who spent three years in the Barber Dodge Pro Series before gaining his first victory at Vancouver in September, 2001. "They did a fantastic job again this weekend, I had a perfect car. I feel bad for Ryan. He was extremely quick and I really wanted to continue our battle. This has been a terrific weekend and I am very happy."
For second place finisher Lavin, the race result belied a tough weekend for Michael Shank Racing.
"It definitely was a very tough, tough race," commented Lavin, who scored a career best finish after starting in 7th place. "I was behind Gurney but it was difficult to pass him. The team gave me a good racecar, but we were struggling the whole weekend. Finally, we got a good finish and now I am looking forward to more podiums this season."
Alex Figge, driving for World Speed Motorsports, overcame a poor qualifying result after being quick all weekend during practice to come home in 6th place. Long Beach race winner Michael Valiante progressed all the way up from his 17th place starting position to finish in 7th place. Waldemar Coronas, racing with the Scuadra Fortia team, finished in 8th place. Luis Diaz, driving the third Dorricott Racing car, finished in 9th place. Lavin's teammate at Michael Shank Racing, Ryan Dalziel, rounded out the Top Ten.
For Hunter-Reay - who finished 19th - the blown engine was obviously dejecting to his spirits but he knows good results are on the horizon.
"We dominated the race and I had an excellent car," said the 21-year old former Barber Dodge Pro Series standout. "This is an unbelievable shame. My team did such an awesome job this weekend and this result does not reflect our work and dedication. However, we did pick up some points this weekend and we'll look to build on this next week at Laguna Seca."
In scoring the victory, Yasukawa moved up to 4th in the point standings. Fogarty still leads the season battle with 46 points, followed by Valiante (41 points), Lavin (30 points), Yasukawa (29 points) and Gurney (29 points).
After having almost two months between events at Long Beach and Milwaukee, Toyota Atlantic competitors have a quick turn-around as they travel across the United States to race this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Round 4 of 12 will take place on Saturday afternoon.
GREAT DAY FOR AJ and PT
While Paul Tracy was capturing his first CART FedEx Championship Series win in almost two years, his karting team and driver AJ Allmendinger were taking home the $5000 first prize for winning the ICC 125 class at the Stars of Tomorrow National event at Primm, Nev.
Allmendinger, the current points leader in the Barber Dodge Pro Series after consecutive victories at Sebring and Lime Rock, held off Kyle Martin by less than a second to take home the victory for Paul Tracy Karting.
Allmendinger, starting on the outside pole, took advantage of polesitter Phil Carlson's slipping clutch and subsequent slow start to take the lead on the opening corner. He would hold the lead for the opening laps until Martin grabbed the lead with a late braking move as the pair headed into Turn One. Allmendinger was not content to sit in 2nd place and copied Martin's move one lap later as they again headed into Turn One.
Despite Allmendinger and Martin battling each other for the lead, they were still able to pull away from the other competitors. As they encountered the final turn on the last lap, Martin was left with only an outside pass attempt as Allmendinger placed his kart on the inside line. Despite the great effort, Martin would come up short as they came to the checkered flag. Ron White, Jake Pierson and Lorenzo Mandarino made up the rest of the Top Five.
"It was awesome," exclaimed Allmendinger. "I got a great start, got the lead and tried to set a good pace to keep my tires in good shape. I was happy to see that Kyle and I were pulling away from everyone else, because I'd rather battle with just him and not a whole flock of guys."
"This team has worked so hard," continued Allmendinger. "It's a perfect result. Chassis, motor, strategy - we had it all today."
Allmendinger will return to the Pro Series and his 19 point lead in the championship this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
*Parts of this race report were gathered from www.ekartingnews.com.
THE GREAT EIGHT
For the first time ever, all eight Barber CART Scholarship drivers will be together as they convene this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a photo shoot, press conference and participation in Sunday's pre-race ceremonies. Scholarship drivers Rafael Sperafico, Julio Campos and Leo Maia will be competing in Round 3 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Scholarship drivers Colin Fleming, Craig Baltzer, Scott Poirier, Ward Imrie and Charlie Kimball - who all participate in the Formula Dodge National Championship - will be there for the festivities and to meet Pro Series personnel.
The Barber CART Scholarship drivers will be part of a press conference, scheduled for 12:40pm PT on Saturday at the track's Media Center Conference Tent. The Scholarship drivers will be joined by CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, Skip Barber, current CART FedEx Championship Series and former Barber Dodge Pro Series driver Townsend Bell and CART Toyota Atlantic Championship driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, a former Scholarship driver himself.
On Sunday, the Scholarship drivers will take part in the pre-race ceremonies for the Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Bridgestone 300. They will be introduced to the crowd and ride in the driver parade with the stars of the CART FedEx Championship Series.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is back in action this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, June 7th-8th. The Toyota Atlantic race will be at 3:30pm PT on Saturday, June 8th.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series takes a week off before joining the CART FedEx Championship Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on June 7th-9th. The Barber Dodge race will at 10:45am on Sunday, June 9th.
Rounds 7 and 8 of the Formula Dodge National Championship will be contested June 14-16 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Barber CART Scholarship drivers Colin Fleming, Craig Baltzer, Scott Poirier, Ward Imrie and Charlie Kimball look to gain ground on current points leader Scott Speed.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. CART also sanctions the Barber Dodge Pro Series as part of a marketing partnership with Skip Barber, LLC. For more information about the CART Ladder System, log onto www.cart.com and click on the links to the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series, Formula Dodge National Championship and Stars of Tomorrow.