HOUSTON, Tx., September 29, 2000 -- After clinching the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship two weeks ago, Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a) returned to form Friday, claiming the provisional pole for this Sunday's Atlantic finale which...
HOUSTON, Tx., September 29, 2000 -- After clinching the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship two weeks ago, Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a) returned to form Friday, claiming the provisional pole for this Sunday's Atlantic finale which is being held on the 1.527 mile temporary street circuit at the Texaco Havoline Grand Prix in Houston, Texas.
Rice set a new track record in Friday's first of two weekend qualifying periods, posting a 1:07.038 (82.001 mph) and bettering the 1:07.968 (80.879 mph) he recorded here a year ago. Five other drivers were also quicker than Rice's 1999 time, including David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Swift 008.a), who was second quickest at 1:07.101 (81.924 mph), and Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valve/Swift 008.a), who recorded a 1:07.206 (81.796 mph) for third.
"After this morning's session, we made a lot of changes and went back to our basic street course set up," said Rice. "It definitely put us in the right direction. With a little bit of fine-tuning we should be able to find more speed. But, it's great to be on provisional pole with a new track record."
West Vancouve British Columbia's Rutledge, was very satisfied with his performance in qualifying.
"We did some testing at a track here in Texas that we didn't think was very productive," said Rutledge, "but it turns out to be very relevant to this track. We've made progress every time we go out, and that's the key to a good weekend. We need to work on the setup just a bit more, but I think we have a really raceable car that can run at the front when it counts. The team has been working extremely hard, and it would be great to end the season with a good result."
Basso, who qualified third and trails current Rookie of the Year points leader, Daniel Wheldon by 18 points, was surprised by his times.
"It was a good run. We made a couple of changes between practice and qualifying. I'm really happy and very surprised, because there was a big difference---eight-tenths, I think---between us and the front guys in practice, and right now we're pretty close---just a little more than one-tenth. We just need to keep working for tomorrow."
Also qualifying under Rice's 1999 record are Alex Gurney (All American Racers/Swift 008.a) at 1:07.216 (81.784 mph), Andrew Bordin (PPI Motorsports/WorldCom/Team Player's/Swift 008.a) and Daniel Wheldon at 1:07.966 (80.882 mph).
"It was pretty frustrating out there," said Gurney. "I had a real hard time with traffic. I had very few clean laps. I kept running into people, but the car was running really well. I was hoping to get one more we went back out after the red flag, but I was the first one to get the checker. I just missed it. We're two tenths off, so I think we can get it tomorrow."
Saturday's Toyota Atlantic activities will begin with a 30-minute practice session at 8:15 a.m. CST followed by qualifying at 3:15. Sundays 43-lap sprint race is scheduled to begin at 9:40 a.m.
Houston, Texas -- The provisional qualifying positions for Sunday's 64.987 mile CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race number 12, at Houston Street Circuit, with starting position, driver and fast lap with speed.
<pre> 1. Buddy Rice, 1:07.038, 82.001. =09 2. David Rutledge, 1:07.101, 81.924. =09 3. Martin Basso (R), 1:07.206, 81.796. =09 4. Alex Gurney, 1:07.216, 81.784. =09 5. Andrew Bordin, 1:07.323, 81.654. =09 6. Daniel Wheldon (R), 1:07.966, 80.882. =09 7. T.J. Bell (R), 1:08.332, 80.448. =09 8. Mike Conte, 1:08.609, 80.124. =09 9. Hoover Orsi (R), 1:08.634, 80.094. =09 10. Bob Perona, 1:08.756, 79.952. =09 11. Andy Lally (R), 1:08.899, 79.786. =09 12. Masaoki Nagashima, 1:08.914, 79.769. =09 13. William Langhorne, 1:09.056, 79.605. =09 14. Frederic Gosparini (R), 1:09.062, 79.598. =09 15. Rocky Moran Jr., 1:09.337, 79.282. 16. Akihiro Asai (R), 1:09.688, 78.883. 17. Stephan C. Roy (R), 1:09.909, 78.634. 18. Christophe Beauvais, 1:09.957, 78.580. 19. David Cutler, 1:10.331, 78.162. 20. Eric Jensen, 1:10.353, 78.137.