(August 15, 2000) - If the past eight CART Toyota Atlantic Championship races are any indication of things to come, this weekend's Round 9 event at Road America could quite realistically prompt yet another new entry in the Atlantic record books.
(August 15, 2000) - If the past eight CART Toyota Atlantic Championship races are any indication of things to come, this weekend's Round 9 event at Road America could quite realistically prompt yet another new entry in the Atlantic record books. Since the beginning of the season, five different Atlantic drivers have set new qualifying and race lap records, felling those set by their predecessors at each of the eight race venues on the 2000 schedule.
Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a) leads the swift and nimble with six new entries on the books, his latest coming in Trois Rivieres a little over two weeks ago where he set new track qualifying and race lap records on his way to earning his fourth victory of the season. Rice, who hopes to move up the CART ladder next year, now leads PPI Motorsports rookie Daniel Wheldon (Jayhard Products/Swift008.a) in this year's championship 120 - 103. Rice's win marked his sixth trip to the podium this season, one step up for each of the six races he has completed.
Wheldon continues to dominate this year's rookie pool after posting his fifth podium finish of the season in Quebec, finishing second to Rice. The young Brit leads Michael Shank Racing newcomer Martin Basso (3b Engine Valve/Swift 008.a) by 15 points in the quest for Rookie of the Year honors. Wheldon has also set several new Atlantic records, three of which he earned by establishing new qualifying records at Miami, Long Beach and Milwaukee.
Third in this year's championship is last year's Road America winner, Canadian Andrew Bordin (PPI Motorsports/WorldCom/Team Player's/Swift 008.a). Bordin finished a disappointing fifteenth in Trois Rivieres after leading the race through lap 13, when an unfortunate collision with a car he was lapping forced him to pit for front wing damage. The Torontonian who earned his first win of the season at home at the Molson Indy a month ago, has also set three new track records this season.
Drivers on the fast track:
Alex Gurney (All American Racers/Swift 008.a) was thrilled to earn his first career Atlantic podium at Trois Rivieres. The California native, who finished third, is currently ninth overall and the new qualifying record holder at Cleveland.
Rocky Moran Jr. (P-1 Racing/Swift 008.a) continues to impress and sits confidently in fifth place in the standings. Moran has finished six times in the top six, and is the only Atlantic driver to have completed all 331 race laps.
Andy Lally will fill the second seat at Chuck West's World Speed Motorsports this coming weekend.
Frederic Gosparini of France will return to Cobb Racing after competing for the team at Trois Rivieres. Gosparini finished ninth in the event.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports) 1st in points
"I've been looking forward to Road America. It's a big, fast track, and we did pretty well there last year. The key is getting down the straights as fast as you can and getting an open lap in qualifying. Any little mistake through a corner has a big impact on your lap time, since it tends to get magnified on the long straights. It's really a challenging track for us, especially since we don't get too many laps because of the length. Our goal for this weekend is to keep extending on our points lead, and the best way to do that is to win."
Daniel Wheldon (PPI Motorsports/Jayhard Products) 2nd in points
I've heard so much about Road America and understand that its quite similar to some of the tracks I've raced in Europe. We're into our last four races and I have the team's encouragement to really push myself going into these final weekends. I've also been out to the Skip Barber school at Laguna Seca to get ready for that race, the track surprised me and was actually much more undulating that I had expected. The good thing is I smashed the track record there. I am very excited about Road America and am anxious to get on the track.
Rocky Moran Jr. (P-1 Racing/ NTN Bearing Corp.) -- 5th in points
I'm looking forward to Elkhart Lake, it should be a good one. Hopefully we can keep our consistency going, it's amazing that we've managed to finish every lap. We'll be working on that. I'm really looking forward to it, it's my favorite track and I think we'll have a good weekend.
David Rutledge (Lynx Racing) 6th in points
Road America is a track in many ways similar to Montreal, where we won from the pole, so we'll be looking to duplicate that performance. We've been going through a bit of a rough patch with DNFs in each of the last three races, but one of the benefits of driving for a top team like Lynx is that they've seen it all, they know that every season has its ups and downs, and they just go on doing the same totally professional job no matter what happens. For myself, I need to work on looking at the big picture of a race rather than react to individual incidents, and once I'm able to do from start to finish, we'll start getting the kind of results this team isused to.
William Langhorne (Active Motorsports/findthe.com) 8th in points
Road America is an extremely challenging course. Drafting is extremely important as is carrying flow and speed. Qualifying can be difficult and it is important to get one good lap together considering we don't get to do that many qualifying laps on the track. I've raced here three times, twice in Barber Dodge and last year (in Atlantic) and it is definitely a great place to be. We're very excited at Active Motorsports, we're expecting a good result.
Mike Conte (Lynx Racing) 10th in points
Road America is one of the tracks I enjoy most on the circuit, both for its natural beauty and the challenge of some of the highest speeds we see on a road circuit. Like other tracks, you have to have your spring and shock package just right for Road America, but aerodynamics play almost as important a part here as they do on an oval. It's a balancing act between trimming the car out for top speed and still maintaining enough grip to get around the corners. And you need to qualify well because the fast group up ront usually takes off on its own and if you lose the draft, you've lost the race.
<pre> TOP TEN
Pos. Driver Pts 1 Buddy Rice 120 2 Daniel Wheldon (R) 103 3 Andrew Bordin 91 4 Martin Basso (R) 88 5 Rocky Moran Jr. 75 6 David Rutledge 60 7 Hoover Orsi (R) 52 8 William Langhorne 48 9 Alex Gurney 39 10 Mike Conte 29
Friday, August 18:
Practice 9:30 a.m. -- 10:10 a.m. Qualifying 1:40 p.m. - 2:10 p.m.
Saturday, August 19:
Practice 9:10 a.m. -- 9:40 a.m. Qualifying 12:55 p.m. - 1:25 p.m.
Sunday, August 20:
Warm Up 8:00 a.m. -- 8:15 a.m RACE 10:30 a.m. (17 laps)
LAST YEAR AT ROAD AMERICA:
1999 -- Andrew Bordin showed patience at the beginning and precision driving at the end to collect his second career Atlantic victory. Buddy Rice made a bold moved on the race's opening turn, passing polesitter Alex Tagliani and Bordin to take the lead, holding it for eight laps. But Bordin sized up Rice several times on lap seven at eight, temporarily passing Rice on lap eight, and eventually made his move for the lead at Canada Corner on lap nine. Bordin raced flawlessly from there and earned the win. Rice finished second, while Alex Tagliani finished third.
TRACK RECORDS (New track measurement in 1997)
Qualifying Record Alexandre Tagliani 2 min, 03.553s 117.947 mph 07/10/1999
Race Record (avg. speed) Andrew Bordin 35 min, 37.944s 115.877 mph 07/11/1999
Fastest Race Lap Buddy Rice 2 min, 03.614s 117.889 mph 07/11/1999
Track Type: 4.048-mile road course
Past Winners 1974: Tom Klausler (USA) Lola T360-Ford (G) 1978: Howdy Holmes (USA), March 78B-Ford (G) 1979: Bob Earl (USA), Ralt RT-1-Ford (G) 1980: Bob Earl (USA), Ralt RT-1-Ford (G) 1981: Whitney Ganz (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1982: John David Briggs (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1983: Roberto Moreno (BR) Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1986: Scott Goodyear (CDN) Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1987: Ted Prappas (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1988: Colin Trueman (USA), Swift DB-4-Ford (G) 1989: Claude Bourbonnais (CDN) Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1990: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1996: Patrick Carpentier (CDN), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1997: Alex Barron (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1998: Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y) 1999: Andrew Bordin (CDN), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y)
Past Polesitters 1974: Tom Klausler (USA) Lola T360-Ford (G) 1978: Bobby Rahal (USA), Ralt RT-1-Ford (G) 1979: Kevin Cogan (USA), Ralt RT-1-Ford (G) 1980: Jacques Villeneuve* (CDN), March 80A-Ford (G) 1981: Jacques Villeneuve* (CDN), March 81A-Ford (G) 1982: Tim Coconis (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1983: Michael Andretti (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1986: Scott Goodyear (CDN) Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1987: Ted Prappas (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1988: Colin Trueman (USA), Swift DB-4-Ford (G) 1989: Jacques Villeneuve* (CDN), Swift DB-4-Ford (Y) 1990: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1996: Patrick Carpentier (CDN), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1997: Chuck West (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1998: Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y) 1999: Alexandre Tagliani (CDN), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y)
* Brother of Gilles Villeneuve ** Son of Gilles Villeneuve
ESPN2 Sat., Aug 26, 4:00 p.m. Repeat: Thurs., Aug 31, 5:00 a.m.
ESPN Int'l Sat., Aug 26, 4:00 p.m.
RDS Sat., Aug 26, 8:30 a.m.
CTV Mon., Aug 28, 7:00 p.m. Ontario, East, West & Pacific Regions