Allmendinger captures second consecutive Barber Dodge Pro Series victory at Lime Rock; Rice rejoins DSTP for remainder of Atlantic season; Dorricott Racing returns to action for the first time since owner's passing. INDIANAPOLIS (May 29, 2002) -...
Allmendinger captures second consecutive Barber Dodge Pro Series victory at Lime Rock; Rice rejoins DSTP for remainder of Atlantic season; Dorricott Racing returns to action for the first time since owner's passing.
INDIANAPOLIS (May 29, 2002) - American AJ Allmendinger followed up his maiden victory in the Barber Dodge Pro Series at Sebring in March with a dominating performance on the 1.54-mile Lime Rock Park, Conn. circuit, capturing his second career win as well as both pole qualifying bonus points. The 20-year old Hollister, Calif resident took home the Memorial Day race by leading every lap and survived a late race restart after a caution to hold off Marc Breuers of Philadelphia, Penn. by 1.561 seconds. Rafael Sperafico of Toledo Parana, Brazil, Nilton Rossoni and Julio Campos - both of Curitiba, Brazil rounded out the top five for Round 2 of 10 of the 2002 Pro Series season.
Allmendinger took advantage of his pole position and grabbed the lead on the green flag, with Breuers, Sperafico, Davy Cook of Tallahassee, Fla. and Rossoni following behind.
"I knew the start was going to be critical, as it always is," commented Allmendinger. "Fortunately, I got a good jump and Marc and I didn't go through Turn One side-by-side. From that point, the first laps were just about getting settled in and making sure the car was online. Once my car came in around Lap 4, I really began to feel comfortable and looked to pull out. I could see the battles behind me early (and throughout) and was really glad I wasn't back there in the middle of it."
While Allmendinger was never really challenged beyond the initial green flag and restart, positions 2-5 were constantly under attack for the entire 40-lap event. Breuers - who had spun on the Pace Lap at Sebring - held 2nd place the entire race but battled both Sperafico and Rossoni to hold the position.
Sperafico, Rossoni and Cook had a spirited battle most of the race for 3rd-5th place. The most exciting moment came on Lap 22 as Sperafico and Cook went wheel-to-wheel through the Turn 3, 4 & 5 complex at Lime Rock. As both gave the other room to race, they had to lift off the throttle, giving 5th place Rossoni a chance to take the battle three-wide. After a breathtaking moment of indecision by all three drivers, Rossoni prevailed with 3rd place.
Rossoni would then move up to challenge Breuers on Lap 25 as the two cars got alongside lapped traffic and went three-wide through Turn 4. While the three-wide tactic worked before for Rossoni, he was not able to complete the pass as Breuers held onto the 2nd place.
From there, Rossoni fell back from Breuers and Sperafico began to reel him in. On Lap 31, Sperafico completed his hunt for Rossoni and passed him for 3rd place on the backside of the racetrack.
With just under 10 laps remaining, Allmendinger had utilized lapped traffic and position battles behind him to build a 5.5 second lead. However, his lead evaporated when Chris Baker of Houston, Texas, Mike Richardson of Kelowna, British Columbia and German Quiroga of Mexico City, Mexico got together coming onto the front stretch bringing out the only yellow flag of the day. Quiroga was able to get back on track and finish the race. Baker and Richardson were unable to continue but uninjured.
Once the clean up was complete, the field saw the green flag with just three laps to go. Allmendinger timed his restart perfectly and Breuers had no opportunity to make a move heading into Turn One. Again, Allmendinger would pull away to leave the battles behind him and lead the pack to the checkered flag.
"With about 10 laps to go, I thought to myself we might actually stay green for the entire race," said Allmendinger. "That must have been the jinx, because a few laps later the yellow came out for the accident on the Downhill. I knew the fight was back on again.
"I knew I needed to break away at least two car lengths on the restart to break the draft," continued Allmendinger. "I was able to do it and never really looked back after that. I really want to thank (BDPS Head Driver Coach) Barry Waddell for talking to me before the race about effective restarts - that proved to be crucial."
"Once I saw AJ was not going to leave the door open for me in (Turn) One, I just became very protective of second place and the points," said Breuers, who drives the #94 Sunoco Race Fuels Reynard Dodge. "All day we were in a position to take advantage of a mistake by AJ but it never came. However, after our spin at the start of the Sebring race, I am very happy with today's performance."
Cook had positioned himself for another top five finish when his throttle stuck open heading to Turn 3, sending him straight off the track into the wide open grass area in front of the stadium crowd. Instead of securing his 2nd place position in the point standings with a strong finish, he would finish in 20th place and fall out of the top five in the BDPS Championship.
"I had a little warning before it totally stuck open, so I was prepared," said Cook. "The nice thing about where it happened was that I had plenty of runoff room to slow the car down. I really appreciate everyone in the crowd running over to make sure I was okay. I am disappointed but we'll just look to come back at Laguna and get back on-track, literally and figuratively!"
Making up positions 6-10 were Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, Canada, Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico, Josh Beaulieu of Langley, British Columbia, Carlos Lievano of Neiva, Columbia and Josh Rehm of Plymouth, Mass.
With his second victory this season, Allmendinger tightened his grasp on the Barber Dodge Pro Series point standings with 44 points. Campos and Rossoni are tied for second place, 19 points behind Allmendinger. Breuers helped his Championship hopes with a 2nd Place finish to move up to 4th in the standings with 23 points. Beaulieu is 5th with 17 points.
BACK HOME AGAIN...AT DSTP
2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Champion Buddy Rice will return to the cockpit of owner Dede Rogers' DSTP Atlantic ride at the upcoming race weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will most likely drive the remainder of the season. Rice will be subbing for driver Joey Hand, injured in a recent testing accident at Milwaukee. Hand is expected to be out for the rest of the Atlantic racing season.
"We're delighted to have Buddy back in the car," said Rogers, whose team won the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic title in its rookie Atlantic season with Rice. "He's one of the best drivers in the country and an integral part of the DSTP family. We felt that this was the best decision for the team, and for Joey. He and Joey work very well together, and we feel that Buddy's expertise will be invaluable to continuing with the development of the new Swift. We're hopeful to get Joey back in the car as soon as possible but, until then, we know that Buddy will give his all to keep DSTP up front."
"I'm pleasantly surprised that the team turned to me to fill-in for Joey," said Rice, who won the 2000 Atlantic title with five wins, 10 podiums and six fastest race laps out of 12 races while driving for DSTP. "I've always said that I would do whatever was in the best interests of Dede and the team, so when they asked, I felt it was the right decision. Joey's put a lot of work into developing this car, so it's important to keep this information in-house and to keep working closely with him over the next several races until he's ready to jump back in. In the meantime, it's going to be great to be back in the cockpit of an Atlantic car, and I can't thank Dede and the team enough for what should be some pretty exciting races ahead."
Since winning the 2000 Atlantic title, Rice was under contract as a driver with Team Rahal of the CART FedEx Championship Series for the 2001 season and tested with fellow FedEx Championship Series team Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Rice has served as a team advisor to DSTP on car set-up and race strategy since last year.
DSTP will not compete this weekend at Milwaukee.
EMPTY SPOT ON PIT WALL
Longtime Dayton Indy Lights and current Toyota Atlantic competitors Dorricott Racing will race this weekend at Milwaukee for the first time ever without owner and founder Bob Dorricott Sr., who passed away on April 26th after battling cancer. He was 65.
While the team will miss Mr. Dorricott, they are in the hunt for the championship and are looking to continue the strong beginning to their 2002 season. As the team heads into Milwaukee, Dorricott team drivers Jon Fogarty, Luis Diaz and Alex Gurney all occupy positions in the top five in the Atlantic point standings. Fogarty is leading the Championship, while Diaz and Gurney round out the top five in 4th and 5th place, respectively.
Despite the loss of Dorricott, Gurney believes the team will continue its winning ways at Milwaukee and beyond.
"Milwaukee will be our first race knowing that Bob is no longer with us so we'll all be there with heavy hearts," said Gurney, looking to follow up on his 2nd place finish at Long Beach. "We struggled a little at the recent Milwaukee test but we learned a lot and it should be sorted out come race time. We'll do everything we can to earn a top finish and continue our fight for the championship."
<pre> CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES
Toyota Atlantic Championship (Through Round 2 of 12) Days Inn West Allis
1. Jon Fogarty Palo Alto, Calif. 35points 2. Michael Valiante Burmaby, BC 32points 3. Rocky Moran, Jr. Coto de Caza, Calif. 21 points 4. Luis Diaz Mexico City, Mexico 19 points 5. Alex Gurney Newport Beach, Calif. 17 points
Barber Dodge Pro Series (Through Round 2 of 10)
1. AJ Allmendinger Hollister, Calif. 44 points 2. Julio Campos Curitiba, Brazil 25 points 3. Nilton Rossoni Curitiba, Brazil 25 points 4. Marc Breuers Philadelphia, Penn. 23 points 5. Josh Beaulieu Langley, British Columbia 17 points
Formula Dodge National Championship (Through Round 6 of 13)
1. Scott Speed Matneca, Calif. 84 points 2. Grant Maiman New London, Wisc. 76 points 3. Burt Frisselle Kihei, Hawaii 75 points 4. Scott Poirier Deerfield Beach, Fla. 67 points 5. Al Unser Corrales, New Mexico 57 points
</pre> UP NEXT
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship prepares for its next action May 31-June 2 during the Miller Lite 250 at the historic Milwaukee Mile. Milwaukee will mark the first action for the Toyota Atlantic competitors since Round 2 at Long Beach in April.
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 competition should be even tougher than usual as AJ Allmendinger, Christian Szymczak, Leonardo Maia and Tom Fogarty are all Northern California natives who consider Laguna Seca their home track.
Rounds 7 and 8 of the Formula Dodge National Championship will be contested June 14-16 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Scott Speed and Grant Maiman are the only competitors to have won more than one race this season, with each having scored two victories.
The Stars of Tomorrow Karting Championship holds its first National event this weekend at Buffalo Bill's Resort and Casino in Primm, Nev. A first prize of $5000 will be awarded to the winner of the 125 ICC Shifter Class.
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.
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