Anthony Lazzaro Re-signs with PPI

MCI TOYOTA ATLANTIC TEAM RE-SIGNS DRIVER ANTHONY LAZZARO FOR 1999 SEASON RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. (October 9, 1998) - Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI) announced today it has re-signed Anthony Lazzaro, who finished fourth in the 1998 ...

MCI TOYOTA ATLANTIC TEAM RE-SIGNS DRIVER ANTHONY LAZZARO FOR 1999 SEASON

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. (October 9, 1998) - Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI) announced today it has re-signed Anthony Lazzaro, who finished fourth in the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship standings.

"I am pleased Anthony has chosen to remain with, what I believe, will be a real force in Atlantic racing next season," said Cal Wells III, team owner. "The stability Anthony brought to our once-floundering Atlantic program is evidenced in the tremendous results as well as camaraderie, team spirit and dedication; this will allow us to make a true championship run for next season."

"Anthony has played a key role in helping us build our team and achieve so many goals this year," said Harvey. "We knew, when he first drove a PPI car, that his speed and technical savvy were second to none, but he brings much more than that. He is both a complete race car driver and a great friend to our organization. With the momentum we built at the end of the 1998, season no one will disagree that Anthony will be the man to beat next year."

"To return to the same team for a second consecutive year is great, and it's the first time in my career that's happened," said Lazzaro. "It means we'll be able to maintain continuity, working with the same engineers, and seeing all the familiar faces that were a big part of our success this year. It gives us an edge going into next year, both mentally and realistically. I'm also proud to continue my association with Cal Wells III, Toyota, MCI and PPI; and not just with the Atlantic team but all of the PPI teams."

The signing comes two days after Lazzaro claimed his third victory of the year in the Atlantic season finale in Houston, Texas, Sunday, October 4. The MCI/PPI Toyota Atlantic team was twice honored later that night at the season-ending awards banquet. Lazzaro won the Jovy Marcelo Sportsmanship Award, which is named in honor of one of the Toyota Atlantic Championship's finest champions, a young man from the Philippines, a true sportsman, family man and racer. This award is given to the driver whose sportsmanship exemplifies this past champion. With the advent of technology and the sophistication of car set-up, the driver's engineer has become one of the vital ingredients to a successful season. Team Engineer Gerald Tyler was honored in this category with the Engineer of the Year award.

"This year has been a great year," said Lazzaro. "The MCI/PPI team proved that it was not only a contender to win races, but championships in the future. We knew that once we got the first win under our belts, the rest would follow; that proved true when we won three of the last four. The MCI/PPI team is only a second-year team but we've had a lot of success. Our strong finish also helps us carry momentum into next year."

Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., began his Atlantic career in 1996. He earned victories in Milwaukee in 1996, and Homestead in 1997, before joining the MCI/PPI team in 1998. This year he claimed victories at Road America, Laguna Seca and Houston, and won poles at Gateway and Road America. He posted fastest race laps at Gateway and Mid-Ohio. Lazzaro is competing October 8 - 11, 1998 in the Petit Le Mans SportsCar race at Road Atlanta.

PPI entered Atlantic competition in 1997 to establish an in-house development program for drivers and team members. In its first year, the MCI Toyota Atlantic Team scored three top-five finishes ranking ninth in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. In its second season, the team claimed three victories, three poles, seven top-five finishes and eight top-ten finishes, finishing fourth in the championship. The series, which just completed its 25th year, is the longest-running open-wheel development series in North America, with 12 races in the United States and Canada.

PPI, started by Cal Wells III in 1979, specializes in building winning off-road racing trucks. PPI has won 23 off-road championships and now features a work force of almost 150 employees at its facilities in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Wells expanded his winning team and company into other racing venues, partnering with veteran CART team owner Frank Arciero Sr. in 1995 to form Arciero-Wells. In 1998, the team is campaigning driver Max Papis in the MCI-sponsored entry. Hiro Matsushita began the year in a Panasonic Duskin/MCI sponsored entry, and then retired as announced after the race at the Nelson Piquet International Raceway in Rio de Janeiro. Robby Gordon made his 1998 CART debut at the Nazareth Speedway in April but did not compete at the Rio event. Gordon resumed full-time driving duties at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. in May, piloting the MCI/Panasonic Duskin-sponsored entry. The drivers use a 1998 Reynard chassis with Firestone Tires powered by Toyota.

PPI will continue its off-road racing team with Ivan "Ironman" Stewart at the wheel of an MCI-sponsored, V8- powered Toyota truck in the Trophy Truck Class of the SCORE Off-Road Series. For the second year in a row, the team entered multiple drivers in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship series; Anthony Lazzaro, Masaoki Nagashima and Jeff Shafer. Lazzaro raced the MCI/PPI Swift, Nagashima in the Panasonic Duskin/PPI Swift and Shafer in the Derek Daly Academy Swift. The team fielded no more than two Atlantic entries at any given race.

LAZZARO CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI)/MCI Toyota, Swift/Toyota/Yokohama.

Finished fourth in final driver's championship standings, won from the pole at Elkhart Lake, won Laguna Seca and Houston, won the pole at Gateway. Posted fastest race laps at Gateway and Mid-Ohio. Finished with six top-five finishes, and three top-ten finishes. Received the Jovy Marcelo Sportsmanship Award. The team won the Engineer of the Year award.

1997 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, Platinum Sound/Team Platinum, Ralt/Toyota/Yokohama. Finished eighth in the final standings, won Homestead and finished second at Long Beach.

Sportscar Speedvision Cup. Raced a limited season of six races, three wins, six top-ten finishes, three fastest laps and one pole.

International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) World SportsCar. Finished fifth in GTS3 in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

IMSA World SportsCar. Raced in GTS3 in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

1996 Player's/Toyota Atlantic Championship. Won Milwaukee, won Rookie of the Year and the Jovy Marcelo Sportsmanship Award.

IMSA World SportsCar. Finished second in Oldsmobile at Texas World Speedway.

IMSA World SportsCar, JOB Racing. Finished fifth in GTS3 in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

IMSA World SportsCar, JOB Racing. Raced in GTS3 in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

1995 Hooter's Formula Ford 2000 (FF2000) Cup Championship. Won FF2000 Championship. Six wins and nine poles in 14 races. Named one of North America's top five young drivers by On Track magazine. Received the Human Performance International Scholarship.

IMSA World SportsCar. Raced in GTS2 in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

1994 Hooter's FF2000 Cup Championship. Won FF2000 Championship. Four wins and three poles in ten races.

USAC Night Before the 500 FF2000. Won race.

IMSA World SportsCar. Raced in GTS2 in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

1993 North American Oldsmobile Pro Series. Won Rookie of the Year title, three wins and one pole.

Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Valvoline Run-Offs. Formula Ford National Champion with one win and one pole.

SCCA Formula Ford 2000. Three wins and two poles in four races.

SCCA Formula Ford 1600. Two wins and three poles in three races.

IMSA World SportsCar. Finished second in GTU in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

IMSA World SportsCar. Raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

1992 World Karting Association. Won National Championship.

1992 Continued Russian Friendship Challenge. U.S. representative for the national karting team.

1991 World SuperKart Championship. Won World Championship.

World Karting Association. Won National Championship.

1989 World SuperKart Championship. Won World Championship.

World Karting Association. Won National Championship.

1988 World SuperKart Championship. Won World Championship.

World Karting Association. Won National Championship.

1987 World Karting Association. Won National Championship.

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Robby Gordon , Max Papis , Anthony Lazzaro , Nelson Piquet , Masaoki Nagashima , Derek Daly , Jeff Shafer