Elkhart Lake: Race report

Dorricott breaks out the brooms; Diaz leads sweep of Road America podium. ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (August 18, 2002) -- It was a banner day for Dorricott Racing at Road America as the three member team swept the podium at Sunday's Round 10 CART...

Dorricott breaks out the brooms; Diaz leads sweep of Road America podium.

ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (August 18, 2002) -- It was a banner day for Dorricott Racing at Road America as the three member team swept the podium at Sunday's Round 10 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race. Luis Diaz (Dorricott Racing/Telmex Swift 014.a) wrestled the lead from Rocky Moran Jr. (Sigma Autosport/Sunoco/BG Products Swift 014.a) on the Lap 14 restart and continued on to a 1.910 second margin of victory.

After the fourth caution flag of the race, Diaz pulled to the inside of Moran Jr. heading into the sweeping right hand turn at the 4.048-mile Road America road course. As the two entered the turn, their wheels touched sending Moran Jr. spinning off into the gravel trap. Moran Jr. was uninjured in the incident, but his chances for his first win since last season's Laguna Seca race were over.

"It was a tight, tough race," said a thrilled Diaz who was competing at Road America for the first time this weekend. "I had an inside line on Rocky (Moran Jr.) and we entered Turn 1 close. Unfortunately, our tires made contact and Rocky ended up off the track, but my car somehow wasn't damaged. I thought I may have had a problem with my front suspension during the next couple of laps, but then my engineer, Gerald Tyler, told me I had run the fastest lap of the race. That was a relief. I couldn't be happier for my team, my teammates, and my sponsor, Telmex.

Diaz's fastest lap of 2:02.881 seconds (118.593 mph), which he turned on lap 12, held up through the final laps of the event earning him the $1,000 WorldCom "Fast Pace" Award. Dorricott took the other award of the weekend as well with Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a) winning the $1,000 Toyota "Pole Award".

"This is very disappointing," said Moran Jr., who is now mathematically eliminated from winning this year's Championship. "On the restart, I saw the green waving and went into Turn 1 battling with Diaz. I almost got around him when I felt his left front tire hit my right rear. The car then did a 180 degree turn and went in the air, putting me in the gravel and ending my day. It is just a shame."

It was the second win of the season for Diaz after posting his first career win this past June in Portland. With Jon Fogarty finishing second and Alex Gurney (Dorricott Racing/Behr/Castrol Swift 014.a) rounding out the podium, Dorricott swept the podium for the first time since the team did it in Indy Lights competition in St. Louis during the 2000 season. It was sweet redemption for the three member team after several incidents with each other several times earlier this season.

"It was a stop-and-go race," said Fogarty who has eight top-five finishes this year. "There were a lot of drivers tossing their cars off the track. That's really irritating when you're leading within a good car. It's happened a couple of times to me this year."

"It was pretty eventful," said Gurney. "First of all, it was an awesome weekend for Dorricott Racing. I got a little dodgy. I may have touched Michael (Valiante) once and Luis (Diaz) a little later. The re-starts were tough and they usually went to whoever came out the cleanest. I guess we managed to get the better of it so it worked out to be a good weekend."

The Dorricott trio along with Moran Jr. battled with current points leader, Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a) at the front of the pack throughout the 17-lap event. Valiante placed fourth behind the Dorricott cars to hold onto the Championship lead with two races remaining. Valiante entered the weekend with a 19 point lead on Fogarty, but will leave with only a 14 point lead heading into next weeks Molson Indy Montreal. Gurney and Diaz are 30 and 32 points behind respectively.

"The Lynx team actually gave me a very good car," said Canadian, Michael Valiante. "What determined the outcome of the race was having all three Dorricott cars around me. This track is all about drafting, and they triple teamed me all during the race. Whenever I got a draft, the guy would move over and break it, and they were protecting each other that way. I don't blame them. We would have done the same thing if we had the chance. But I brought it home in a points paying position and we go to the next race at Montreal where we've won from the pole in each of the last two years and still leading the points."

Pre-season Championship favorite, Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift 014.a), who is only making his second start after sustaining injuries in a May testing accident, rounded out the top five hounding the lead pack throughout the race.

Complicating Hand's effort to gain positions along with most of the rest of the field was the five caution flags that ate up seven green flag laps. The first yellow flew on Lap 1 when Alex Garcia (Transnet Racing/Dixien Swift 014.a) was bumped off course in Turn 1. The biggest incident came four laps later when Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Briggs & Stratton/Andor Capital Management/Medlock Ames Winery Swift 014.a) and Waldmar Coronas (Scuadra Fortia/Aviacsa/Royce/Maizoro/Millenio Swift 014.a) made contact in Turn 5 sending both cars off course. Coronas was able to continue, but Hunter-Reay was eliminated from the race and may have cost him a shot at the 2002 Championship. Hunter-Reay entered the weekend 21 points behind Valiante, but now is 34 points back.

The third incident took place in Turn 5 as well involving Coronas' teammate, Eduardo Figueroa Scuadra Fortia/Aviacsa/Royce/Maizoro/Millenio Swift 014.a) and Kyle Krisiloff (U.S. Grand Prix F1/Patrick Racing Swift 014.a). The contact knocked both drivers from the race.

While Moran Jr. was extending his lead, the yellow flew again when Coronas and Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Modelo Swift 014.a) made contact in Turn 12 sending Lavin into the gravel trap. Upon returning to green, the scrap between Moran Jr. and Diaz brought out the final yellow of the afternoon.

The Championship heads north for their final visit of the season to Canada for the Molson Indy Montreal next weekend. One week after that, the 2002 season comes to a close with the running of the Shell Grand Prix of Denver.

The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and the top rung on CART's "ladder system", as well as having $100,000 race purses and a one million dollar points fund. It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as jpformer series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.

-cart/atlantic-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Alex Gurney , Michael Andretti , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Rocky Moran Jr. , Kyle Krisiloff , Luis Diaz , Danny Sullivan , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Alex Garcia , Rodolfo Lavin , Eduardo Figueroa , Michael Shank
Teams HART , Michael Shank Racing