Fogarty and Diaz visit podium at Cleveland. Gurney remains key contender in Atlantic Championship. CLEVELAND, Ohio (July 15, 2002) - - Dorricott Racing regained a proverbial "good taste in its mouth" Sunday, July 14, at the Marconi Grand Prix of...
Fogarty and Diaz visit podium at Cleveland.
Gurney remains key contender in Atlantic Championship.
CLEVELAND, Ohio (July 15, 2002) - - Dorricott Racing regained a proverbial "good taste in its mouth" Sunday, July 14, at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland when Jon Fogarty and Luis Diaz captured second and third place, respectively, in the eighth round of the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, of Boca Raton, Fla., led from start to finish but the key for Dorricott Racing was to have its drivers score points and finish the race. It achieved this by its two podium finishers and a eighth place showing by Alex Gurney, of Newport Beach, Calif.
Hunter-Reay jumped to an early lead from his number one starting spot after winning his third pole position of the season, and continued to a 7.015-second margin of victory over Fogarty. The average race speed of 104.987 mph was an all-time Atlantic record.
At the drop of the green flag, Hunter-Reay moved to the inside to guard the line entering the treacherous right hand Turn 1 at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport 11-2.106-mile, 11-turn temporary street course. Fogarty tucked in behind the leader from his outside front row starting spot and the pair remained in those positions for the remainder of the race.
"It was tough to keep pace with Ryan's car," said Fogarty. "Nonetheless, the weekend's objective was to make a dent in Valiante's lead in the point championship and we accomplished that. I knew Ryan was going to be tough and he was close in points but I'm sure his objectives were similar to ours. The team gave me a good car. I was watching my mirrors much of the race and rooting for Luis to pass Michael. I'm very glad he did. This makes a little up for last week at Toronto. It's where we should be and I'm happy to be here."
Hunter-Reay assumed the "next-to-the-top" spot that was held by Fogarty and closed the gap on points leader, Canadian Michael Valiante. As the season enters into its final third of the schedule, Hunter-Reay has moved to within eight points of Valiante with a total of 93. Fogarty, who captured his fourth podium of the season, is only one point back of Hunter-Reay with 92 points and nine points behind of Valiante.
Diaz battled with Valiante for third place throughout the race with Diaz taking the position for good on Lap 20. Diaz completed the podium which was his second of the year after winning earlier this season at Portland. It was also the third time this season that Dorricott Racing has placed two of their three drivers on podium. Fogarty and Gurney finished on podium at Long Beach with Fogarty and Diaz in the top three at Portland.
"Cleveland was a bumpy track so it made for a tough race especially with such a high average race speed this time," said Diaz. "I'm happy with this result since I had an incident at Toronto that cost a good finish. This result is great for me. This puts me back in the championship fight. I hope to make a repeat visit to the podium at the next race."
Valiante continued to a fourth place finish including running the race's fastest lap at 1:06.235 = 114.465 mph. Much like final qualifying where 15 drivers beat the existing track qualifying record, a total of 15 topped the race lap record as well.
The race saw its only yellow flag early when Alex Figge made contact with the rear of the car of Roger Yasukawa on the entry to Turn 1. Figge's car went airborne over Yasukawa and then collected the machine of Sepp Koster. Both Figge and Koster were eliminated from the race while Yasukawa lost many laps in the pits while making repairs.
Gurney, meanwhile, finished in ninth place but the fact he scored another top-10 finish kept him in the title chase. Following Cleveland, the Atlantic Championship remains one of the tightest in recent memory. Twenty nine points separate the top six drivers.
Gurney is in fourth place overall with 75 points, while Diaz is one point behind in fifth place with 74 points. Fogarty relinquished his lead for Atlantic Rookie-of-the-Year to Hunter-Reay by one point.
After racing in six of the past seven weekends, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will take a much needed break before returning to action in three weeks at the historic Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres on August 4th.