Series: CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Round 11 of 12 The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will take to the streets of Denver, Colorado this weekend for the second time in its 30-year tradition rich history. Joey Hand will be looking to ...
Series: CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Round 11 of 12
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will take to the streets of Denver, Colorado this weekend for the second time in its 30-year tradition rich history. Joey Hand will be looking to duplicate his 2001 season ending street performance this weekend in Denver and return to the top of the victory podium.
Hand polished off his 2001 rookie season by taking wins on the temporary street circuits in Vancouver and Houston. Both victories came in the final quarter of the 2001 season which propelled the Sacramento, California native to the 2001 Rookie of the Year Award. It also landed Hand with a third place finish in the overall points Championship behind Hoover Orsi and David Rutledge. Hand only missed taking second place from Rutledge by two points.
Since the close of 2001 season, Hand and the DSTP Motorsports team have been struggling to return to the 2001 status. Although Hand started off 2002 with a podium and a pole in the season's first two races, a testing accident in Milwaukee sidelined Hand for five races and knocked him out of Championship contention. 2003 has seen its share of hardships as well, but the team seemed to turn the corner once the calendar hit August stringing together a run of top five finishes while being one of the fastest cars on the track in every race.
The biggest hurdle will now be for Hand and his team to put the DSTP Swift up closer to the front of the pack for the start of races. A lack of yellow flags to slow the leaders and the Atlantic Championship's quick sprint races have prevented Hand from contending for wins when starting in the middle of the field.
"We actually have pretty high hopes heading into Denver," stated Hand. "We had a good run in qualifying there last year and got held up on the final lap. We still started fifth and felt like we had a car that could win. The shift lever failed early in the race and that took us out. We know we can run well there and hopefully the car will hold up for the race this time around.
Hand started races in Trois-Rivieres, Mid-Ohio, and Montreal in seventh, seventh, and sixth respectively and parlayed all three of those starts into top-five finishes. For those results to turn into podiums, Hand knows that he has to start races closer to the front.
"That is one thing we have had in the past several events--.a good car for the race," said Hand. "We are just trying to figure out how to get the car qualified better so we can start up front. The car always wants to go up front and we just need to get it there before the race starts now. If we can accomplish that, I think we will have a real good shot. Street courses are always my cup of tea and Denver is a very rough track with a couple of slick sections, so it makes it difficult for a driver to figure out the car and the track. I can't ask the team to work any harder and I hope we can all be rewarded this weekend with at least a podium finish."
Speed Channel will televise the Round 11 event from Denver on same day delay on Sunday, August 31st, at 2:00 p.m. EST. For those that miss the race on Sunday, Speed Channel will re-broadcast the event on Friday, September 5th at 2:00 p.m. EST.
The Championship will take its longest break since the spring before concluding its 2003 season on the streets of Miami, Florida on September 28th. Although the chance for the Championship is long gone, Hand hopes that he can join the class of 2003 race winners before September comes to a close.