Palm Springs, Calif. (September 12, 2000) -- With only two races left in the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic season, World Speed Motorsports is seeking a solid finish this weekend on the Gateway International Raceway oval in Madison, Illinois, for round...
Palm Springs, Calif. (September 12, 2000) -- With only two races left in the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic season, World Speed Motorsports is seeking a solid finish this weekend on the Gateway International Raceway oval in Madison, Illinois, for round eleven of the 12-race CART Toyota Atlantic Championship series, part of the Motorola 300 CART FedEx Championship weekend. Atlantic veteran Case Montgomery, who just last weekend finished 9th at Laguna Seca, returns for another run with the World Speed team in the #14 World Speed Motorsports - Northwest SpeedWerx/ Walker Racing Swift.
"It'll be great to get back to an oval track. This will be the first oval I've run since Milwaukee in '98. I'll be behind the eight ball a bit since I have no oval testing, but I'm confident that the World Speed team will give me a great car, and I'm sure it'll be a pleasure working on an oval set-up with them," said Montgomery. Montgomery, who first started racing in the Toyota Atlantic series in 1995, will make his second Atlantic appearance at Gateway. In 1998 while driving for Condor Motorsports, he qualified 4th on the 1.27 -- mile oval, but rain prematurely ended the race placing Montgomery in 8th place, overall.
"Gateway is an enjoyable track because it lends itself to passing and lets us put on a good show for the fans. The last time I was there, we only got half the race in before the rains came, so I'm looking forward to starting up front and getting in a complete race with good results." Montgomery began his career in 1994 at the Jim Russell Driving School where he won the graduate run-offs during his first year at the school. In 1995, Montgomery turned his attention to an opportunity to run in the Toyota Atlantic series, coming into the series with great success. His first ever Atlantic race found Montgomery finishing 4th on the streets of Long Beach. Over the course of the next few years, he went on to collect nine podiums in his 37 Atlantic appearances.
Teammate Akihiro Asai, driver of the #15 World Speed Motorsports -- ProStaff/Walker Racing swift, will make his second appearance on an oval in the Atlantic series. Asai first joined the World Speed team back in June at the Milwaukee Mile where he finished 15th. "This will only be my second oval of my professional career and I am looking forward to it. The first time I raced on an oval my goal was to finish the race and learn more about ovals, but now, with more seattime behind me, I hope to finish in the top ten, at least," said Asai. "The ovals feel different, but we've been successful in testing and I know the World Speed guys will give me a great car."
A native of Tokyo, Japan, Asai began his career racing go-karts at age 15, when he raced in the Japanese National Kart Championship, winning at Sugo. After a few years in karts, Asai traveled to the states to attend a five-day course at the Skip Barber Formula Dodge racing school, where he became hooked on formula cars. "My first real formula car experience was at Skip Barber. It was a great feeling, the car felt so solid," said Asai.
It was at that time that he began racing professionally. In 1994, Asai participated in the ESSO/Formula Toyota Championship where he earned top honors as the highest-ranking rookie (eighth). From there Asai competed in the Japanese Formula 3 and Formula 4 Championships, scoring the victory from the pole while making his Formula 4 racing debut. Asai continued to break records and earn victories, winning two and claiming six of 12 wins and six pole positions in the Eastern Formula 4. He was also the first driver, in the Formula 4 to win on the Motegi road course, after the track opened in 1998.
Last year, Asai completed a full season in Australia with the Formula Holden Australian series, where he finished fifth in the championship. His most memorable moment in Australia was at the Adelaide Street Course where he finished fourth after starting 18th on the grid while setting the fastest lap.
World Speed Motorsports is considered one of America's most dynamic racing organizations, featuring entries in CART's Toyota Atlantic Championship, as well as the Star Mazda Pro Series. Founded in 1991 by West, World Speed initially focused on the Formula Mazda series where West finished third overall and won the Rookie-of-the-Year title in his first season as an owner/driver. 1992 resulted in the series championship by virtue of West's five wins, ten podiums and three track records.
Since then, World Speed has captured six Formula Mazda championship and five pro series Rookie-of-the-Year titles under West's guidance and Doyle's engineering expertise, featuring such drivers as Ben Massey, Pete Wise, Mike Conte, Mike Miller, Jeff Bucknum and Grant Ryley.
Last year in Atlantic, World Speed campaigned French-born Brazilian Nicolas Rondet, who averaged a top five running position at every race and captured a podium finish in Trois-Rivieres.
This weekend's CART Toyota Atlantic activities begin Friday, September 15, with Atlantic practice at 8:00 a.m., followed by a second practice session at 2:00 p.m. Single car qualifying will begin at 5:05 p.m. Friday afternoon to determine the starting grid for Saturday's race, which is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. All times are Central.
The race will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN International, Sunday, September 24 at 6:30 p.m. with a repeat broadcast on Thursday, September 28 at 6:30 p.m., and on RDS, Saturday October 7 at 10:30 a.m. All times are Eastern.
The final round, round twelve of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season takes place on the streets of Houston, Texas, Sunday, October 1, part of the Texas Grand Prix of Houston CART FedEx Championship weekend.