Dorricott Racing braces for down-to-the-wire stretch in the Toyota Atlantic Championship ... Road America is next. BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Aug. 13, 2002) - The proverbial "put up or shut up" stage of the 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship has...
Dorricott Racing braces for down-to-the-wire stretch in the Toyota Atlantic Championship ... Road America is next.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Aug. 13, 2002) - The proverbial "put up or shut up" stage of the 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship has arrived and Dorricott Racing's Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney, and Luis Diaz all know that this weekend's Atlantic race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., could be the "make or break" event of their seasons.
The 17-lap (68.816 mile) Atlantic sprint around the 4.048-mile, 14-turn picturesque road course is scheduled to drop the green flag at 11:15 a.m. CT, Sunday, Aug. 18. It is the featured support event for the Grand Prix of Road America and the Motorola 220 CART FedEx Championship Race later that day.
The situation in Atlantic is fairly simple. It is one of the closest driver championships in recent history. However, series leader Michael Valiante, of Canada, could use Road America to either blow the lid off his competition or backslide into a pack of equally talented and eager drivers dominated by Dorricott Racing.
With three races remaining including Road America, Dorricott drivers must close the gap. Valiante currently holds a 19-point advantage over second place Fogarty, 123-104. Ryan Hunter-Reay is nearby in third place at 102 points. Fogarty, however, leads Hunter-Reay for Atlantic Rookie of the Year honors.
Gurney, of Newport Beach, Calif., is fourth overall with 92 points. Diaz, of Mexico City, is in sixth place with 84 points. Only 33 points separate the top five contenders. Twenty-three points are available to any driver who can lead both qualifying sessions, lead the most laps of the race, and win the race. Simply stated, Valiante has as much on the line at Road America to finish well as his Dorricott Racing counterparts have to beat him.
Gurney could arguably be one of the "hotter" Dorricott pilots. After starting his Behr/Castrol Swift 014a on the outside pole at Trois-Rivieres in round nine, he finished second place with a masterful performance and equally strong car. Gurney is not a stranger to Road America either. He proved during his last race at Road America in the 2000 Atlantic Championship that he is more than capable of running in the front. He qualified 21st but finished an eye-opening fifth place.
Gurney has remained a title contender through consistent high finishes including a fifth place showing in his first Canadian visit of this season at Toronto. He finished second place finish at Long Beach, and has qualified six times in the first two rows as well as being a leading contender in nearly every race. Gurney earned championship bonus points at Toronto and Trois-Rivieres for winning the provisional poles, and has started in row two in four races.
Fogarty comes to Road America off a powerful showing at Trois-Rivieres where he started and finished fourth place. When considering his qualifying fourth at Laguna Seca in round four, and finishing third place at Portland in round five, Fogarty has shown that his prowess on permanent road courses is considerable. Besides seeking to win the Atlantic Championship in his rookie Atlantic season, he is also attempting to become the first driver to win the season opening race (Monterrey, Mexico) and continue to win a Championship since Mark Dismore did it in 1990.
Bonus points are affecting the Atlantic Championship and Dorricott Racing has a clear advantage to date. It has ruled Atlantic qualifying by capturing four of nine pole positions. Diaz earned poles at Monterrey, Mexico, and Portland, while Fogarty led qualifying at Chicago and Toronto.
Fogarty has started eight of nine races in the first two rows. Outside poles at Portland and Cleveland were complemented by second row grid spots at Monterrey, Long Beach, Laguna Seca, and Trois-Rivieres (4th). His worst starting position has been sixth at Milwaukee.
Diaz started eighth and finished sixth at Trois-Rivieres. His finish doesn't tell his entire story as he fell behind early in the race before climbing back toward the front with an impressive driving display. Diaz's third place finish at Cleveland in round eight lifted him back into championship contention.
"It's going to be my first time at Elkhart Lake but I feel that these types of fast tracks are better for me," said Diaz. "I have better results on them. It's a great idea to have additional practice time on Thursday. It will give me time to learn the learn the track. I hope this will improve my chances of winning or getting to the podium this weekend. I need a good finish to stay afloat in the championship. It's also very important because ending strong sets the tone for the next year as well as the off-season."
Speed Channel will provide a SAME DAY DELAYED telecast of the Toyota Atlantic Championship race from Road America beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET (10:30 a.m. PT), Sunday, Aug. 18.
Dorricott Racing is a year-round professional motorsports organization with its race shop located in Bakersfield, Calif. Detailed race results, team, and sponsor information are available on Dorricott Racing's official web site, www.dorricottracing.com.