CICERO, Ill (July 29, 2001) -- For the fifth time this season, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship points lead has changed hands. Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) grabbed the lead from the drop of the green flag and went on to...
CICERO, Ill (July 29, 2001) -- For the fifth time this season, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship points lead has changed hands. Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) grabbed the lead from the drop of the green flag and went on to his third victory of the season.
The Brazilian driver had been one of the fastest cars all weekend along with Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift). From the drop of the green flag, Ave seemed to be the only car that had a chance to stay with Orsi. Ave set the fastest race lap late in the race winning the $1000 WorldCom Fast Pace Award but it was not enough to chase down Orsi who went on to win the race by 3.454 seconds. Orsi collected 22 points this weekend with his win, most laps led, and the $1000 Toyota Pole Award.
"My car was awesome, especially in traffic," said the new CTAC points leader. "I knew Tony (Ave) was tough on ovals and was right there, so I pushed the whole race really hard to keep ahead of him. But when you have a good car on ovals, it's very easy to drive, so I was able to stay ahead. I got a lot of points today, but there are still five races to go and they are all on road and street courses, so it's going to be tough because David (Rutledge) is so good on those tracks. We'll have to improve more on road and street courses to stay ahead of him."
This was Ave's best finish since winning at Nazareth, where Orsi finished runner-up. "We just didn't have it from him (Orsi) today," said Ave. "The guy that led right away was going to have the advantage. We kind of guessed wrong on the set-up and we were tight in bad air going through traffic. I could stay with Hoover, but just seemed to lose ground when we caught traffic. On the re-start, I really tried hard to get a jump and got outside of Hoover down the front straight and tried to pass on the outside in turn 1. I was wide open, but had to lift as soon as it started to push up the track, and that was it."
The re-start was caused after David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/The Keg Steakhouse Swift) and T.J. Bell (Cobb Racing Swift) touched wheels on the third lap of the race sending Bell spinning toward the wall, and subsequently, bringing out the only yellow flag of the race. Bell did a fantastic job of getting the car pointed the right direction and avoided contact with the turn 4 wall. Bell lost many laps in the pits making repairs, finishing the race in 14th. Rutledge replaced the front nose on his Swift and kept the car on the lead lap, but finished the race two laps down in 12th place, picking up one Championship point.
Orsi took a 17 point lead over Rutledge in the Championship points chase with five races to go. Working in Rutledge's favor is that those five races are all on road and temporary street courses; circuits that Rutledge has not lost on yet in dry weather conditions. Orsi won in Cleveland running on a wet track.
Heading into next weeks race in his hometown, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec's Stephan C. Roy (P-1 Racing/Playstation 2 Momo Swift) earned his first podium of his Atlantic career. Roy charged from sixth place on lap 45 up to third by lap 54 giving P-1 Racing two spots on the podium. The timing of his best career finish was pleasing to the second year driver.
"This is just unbelievable," said Roy. "To get my first career podium before going home to race in my home town next week is hard to express in words. I am just that excited. We were not doing so well at the beginning of the race. I was just driving the car too smooth. My driving coach (Richard Spenard) came over the radio and told me to get more aggressive with the car and I really picked up the pace. The car had a huge push at the start but it kept getting better as the race went on. This along with my getting more aggressive allowed me to move up quickly toward the end of the race. I just can't ask for any better of a team. They gave me one great car all weekend long."
Roy battled with his teammate, Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) who ran in third for most of the race but faded to sixth by the end of the race. Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) and Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) finished fourth and fifth respectively after a close fight with the P-1 Racing tandem of Roy and Macri for most of the race.
Ave holds onto third place in the Championship with a total of 69 points, 43 behind Orsi who stands at 112 points. Basso stays in fourth with 61 points and rookie, Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) remains in fifth place with 48 points. Hand finished tenth today in Chicago, but held on to the Rookie of the Year lead over Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) who stands tied with Macri at 43 points.
Round 8 of the 12 event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held next week at the historic Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 7 race from Chicago on Saturday, August 4, at 5:30 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, August 7, at 7:00 p.m. in the EAST, ONTARIO and WEST time zones, and Monday, August 6, at 8:00 p.m. in the PACIFIC zone. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Wednesday, August 8, 2:30 p.m., ONTARIO, Tuesday, August 14, 2:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Monday, August 13, 4:00 p.m., and WEST, no repeat date. ESPN2 will replay the race on Monday, August 13, at 5:00 a.m. ET.