Elkhart Lake, WI (August 20, 2000) - Buddy Rice and the Chardon, Ohio-based DSTP Atlantic team captured their fifth victory out of nine races thus far in the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship by virtue of winning today's race at Road America.
Elkhart Lake, WI (August 20, 2000) - Buddy Rice and the Chardon, Ohio-based DSTP Atlantic team captured their fifth victory out of nine races thus far in the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship by virtue of winning today's race at Road America. Rice led the most laps (8 out of 17), set the fastest lap of the race (2:04.458) and extended his lead in the drivers' championship standings (22 points) after winning his second consecutive race following a victory in Trois Rivieres just three weeks ago.
"We're real happy to win this one," said Rice, who started the race from seventh position and moved into the lead on the fifth lap. "We knew we were going to have our work cut out for us, but we also knew that we had a great car for the race. Our plan was to move up to the front as soon as possible without taking any major gambles. I wanted to get the maximum amount of points and knew that we had to lead the most laps as well as win. For the most part, it was a really clean race. Drafting was the key to passing, but once out front, our car was better in open air. Overall, it's been another great weekend for DSTP. We were able to extend on our championship points lead and we hope to have another strong finish in our next race at Laguna."
At the start of the 17-lap race, polesitter Martin Basso took the lead followed by David Rutledge and Andrew Bordin, with Rice up to sixth. Rice moved into third by lap three, then went around Rutledge and Basso to take the lead on the fifth lap. Following a three lap caution period to remove the stalled car of Frederic Gosparini, Rice continued to lead until a rock lodged itself under his car, and caused him to slide wide as Dan Wheldon and Basso slipped past. Another full course yellow to remove two cars appeared on lap ten for three laps. The race resumed with four laps remaining. Rice moved around Basso for second on lap 14, then around Wheldon on the following lap for the lead. The final yellow flag appeared on lap 16 as the race concluded under yellow with Rice out front followed by Wheldon, Basso, Bordin and Alex Gurney.
"This was a tough race for us," said Dede Rogers, team owner. "We knew that winning from seventh would be difficult, but this team came through and delivered another solid performance. Road America is one of the best tracks for passing and moving through the field, so we knew that if we had a strong car and could stay out of trouble, that we would be in good shape. It's great to extend our lead in the championship a bit, but with three races to go, the season is far from over."
Rice now leads Wheldon in the championship standings by 22 points (141 - 119), followed by Bordin with 108. Out of nine races this year, Rice has five wins, two second-place finishes, two DNFs (resulting from contact from other competitors while leading or in second position), seven podiums, two poles and five fastest race laps. He is the only repeat winner in Atlantic competition this year and has led more race laps than any other competitor (215 out of 299 completed).
The race will be televised via espn2 on Saturday, August 26, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT). Round ten of the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic season takes place on Saturday, September 9, at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.