Back up to speed, hand muscles out fourth place at Trois-Rivieres Joey Hand ...
Back up to speed, hand muscles out fourth place at Trois-Rivieres
Joey Hand #27 DSTP Motorsports Toyota Swift 014.a
After Sunday morning's warm-up session where he had placed eighth on the time sheets and was over a second behind the leaders, Joey Hand was not too optimistic of his chances in today's 45-lap Round 8 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres. Despite the dark cloud that had been hanging onto the rear wing of the DSTP Swift all weekend, Hand battled his way up the standings and landed a fourth place finish in today's caution free race.
While on the pace laps before the green flag, Hand radioed into his crew and commented on how good the changes that were made following the warm-up session felt. Hand backed up his words as he moved past Luis Diaz for sixth on the opening lap. Hand would then turn his focus on fifth place which was being contested by Danica Patrick, Aaron Justus, and Michael Valiante.
Justus and Valiante had made their way past Patrick by the time Hand closed in which set-up some of the best action of the race. Patrick would keep a tight grasp on the fifth place position as Hand repeatedly tried to force Patrick into a mistake throughout the middle portions of the race. After trying for several laps, Hand seemed to have the pass made going into Turn 6, but Aaron Justus had spun into the tire wall at the exit of the corner and he had to back out of the pass. Finally, at the same turn many laps later, Patrick got into the turn to fast which allowed hand to duck inside exiting the corner. Hand and Patrick fought side by side for what was now fourth all the way up the straight towards Turn 8 where Hand would eventually wrestle the spot away.
By the time Hand was able to clear Patrick, A.J. Allmendinger had checked out with the lead by 25 seconds while the third place car of Michael Valiante was 14 seconds ahead. The race had moved into the final stages and Hand's only chance at the top three was a much needed yellow flag that never came. Hand posted the fourth fastest lap with a time of 59.849 seconds (91.490 mph) which was only 3/10ths of a second slower than Allmendinger's leading time. It was the fastest time Hand had posted all weekend as well as the closest in time to the top running cars.
Hand would settle for a hard earned fourth place finish which was his best showing since the runner-up podium spot at the Round 4 event in Portland.
The fourth place showing moved Hand up in the Championship past Alex Figge who dropped out of today's race early due to mechanical problems. Hand's total of 68 points now trails Allmendinger's leading total by 80 points heading into the final third of the season. Aaron Justus, who had trouble of his own today, holds the fifth place spot in the Championship only 15 points ahead of Hand.
If you missed today's LIVE telecast of the Round 8 Trois-Rivieres race, you can catch it Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EST.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship heads back to the United States next week for the Round 9 event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The event in central Ohio will be the first time since 1999 the Atlantic series has competed on the 2.258-mile permanent road course in Lexington, Ohio.
Hand on Sunday's Race:
"I can't thank DSTP enough. These guys stuck it out and worked really hard. Even when we were down after the warm-up, nobody missed a beat. I had a good race car there, but just didn't start close enough to the front to have a shot at the guys up front without any yellow flags. We threw a really big kitchen sink at the car for the race and it was the best it had been all weekend. Kent (Stacy), my engineer, did a really good job on a rough weekend."
"I never really like to get fourth, but I'm actually satisfied with this one because we were not very good this morning and this place is very difficult to pass at. I was able to make some moves and pressure some people out of the way. It was a great "racy" race from where I was."
"Again, I just can't thank Dede Rogers and DSTP enough. We'll go on to Mid-Ohio on maybe a little run."
Hand on the Key Pass for Fourth Place:
"I had Danica (Patrick) once going down into Turn 6. I had the pass on the inside and then saw yellow flags down in the corner, so I had to check up and let her go. I saw Justus was in the tire wall at the exit of the corner."
"Like I said, it is very hard to pass here with the aero situation so I really had to work to get past Patrick. I tried to stay as close as I could and keep one wing out of her air in the corners to make the car turn. Eventually, she made a mistake. I kept looking inside over and over and she finally over shot the corner in Turn 6 and I was able to get beside her exiting that corner. Then, it was a drag race down to Turn 8 and I was able to drive away after that."