This weekend, Joey Hand and DSTP Motorsports return to the site of one of the most memorable last lap battles in the tradition rich CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's 30-year history. Unfortunately, Hand came out on the wrong side of that ...
This weekend, Joey Hand and DSTP Motorsports return to the site of one of the most memorable last lap battles in the tradition rich CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's 30-year history. Unfortunately, Hand came out on the wrong side of that remarkable 2001 duel with Hoover Orsi, but returns this weekend to try and cap off the win that got away.
"I'm anxious to get back to Cleveland because I didn't get to run there last year," said Hand. "The 2001 race was one of the greatest races ever in my memory and they say it was one of the greatest in the Toyota Atlantic's history, so we're ready to go out and put on a show in front of the home town. We were fast there in 2001; so I feel like we should be quick this year. I feel pretty good about our chances."
Hand missed last year's Cleveland race due to the injuries he sustained in a testing accident at the Milwaukee Mile, but returns for the 2003 version of the unique event that sees the racing action take place on a 2.106-mile temporary street course that serves as a regional airport throughout the rest of the year. Buddy Rice, who won the 2000 Championship and the 2000 Cleveland event with DSTP, filled in for the injured Hand at the Burke Lakefront Airport last year.
Confidence is also high entering this weekend's race after the team picked up their first podium finish of the season two weeks ago in Portland. The second place finish helped keep Hand in the Championship hunt moving him up to seventh in the standings with 40 points trailing leader, A.J. Allmendinger, who has 79. After coming so close to winning the Cleveland race in 2001, Hand feels that he has a great shot at taking the top spot on the podium this time around.
"It is definitely a good way to be coming into this race," remarked Hand, who is trying for his third career win. "We have been looking for some momentum all year long and now we finally got it. It was sort of like trying to get your first win. It is very difficult when you are trying so hard when what you should really be doing is trying to drive fast and take what you get. I'm pretty happy we got that podium now and I feel like we should stay that way from here on out. We'll just see how it goes."
Unlike the past two races in Laguna and Portland, the Atlantic drivers will get a full compliment of practice and qualifying sessions before taking the green flag for race on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. EST. Practice and qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday, along with a short warm-up session on Saturday, should give the teams ample time to be ready for the race. DSTP and the rest of the Atlantic field get started on Thursday afternoon for their first session at 2:15 p.m. EST. Speed Channel will air the Round 6 race from Cleveland on Sunday, July 6th at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Hand will be busy off the track, as well. Hand will take part in several activities including a 12:00 p.m. EST autograph session at the Galleria Mall in downtown Cleveland on Thursday, followed by the Media Luncheon which will be held at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame located near the track. With his second place finish in Portland, Hand earned the right to take part in the Champ Car Fan Appreciation autograph session which will be held in the paddock on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EST. As always, Hand will participate in the Toyota Atlantic all driver autograph session in the paddock on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. EST.
Through DSTP Motorsports, Dede Rogers has established herself as a true believer in promoting talented young American drivers into professional racing. Formed in 1994, DSTP first campaigned a team in the Dodge Shelby Pro Series before moving into the U.S. F2000 National Championship in 1995. Such notable drivers as Memo Gidley, Alex Barron, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Jerry Nadeau competed in cars fielded by DSTP before Buddy Rice swept to the Atlantic title during DSTP Motorsports first season in the series in 2000.