If you compared the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship to a PGA Golf tournament, races four through six on the schedule are the equivalent of Friday's play on the tour. Players must get to a certain point behind the leader on Friday or risk being...
If you compared the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship to a PGA Golf tournament, races four through six on the schedule are the equivalent of Friday's play on the tour. Players must get to a certain point behind the leader on Friday or risk being "cut" or eliminated from the event. The same can be said for Joey Hand as he enters races at Laguna Seca, Portland, and Cleveland. The three race stretch will be pivotal for Hand to get back in contention or risk falling too far behind to challenge for the 2003 Championship.
But the stretch of races plays in Hand's favor, as well as the DSTP Motorsports team. Hand won his first career pole at Laguna Seca in the 2001 season finale while placing second in the race. Hand was not able to compete at Laguna Seca, Portland, or Cleveland last year due to his recovery from injuries sustained in a testing accident at the Milwaukee Mile. Although DSTP did run last year at the famous 2.238-mile track in Monterey, California with 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Champion, Buddy Rice, it will be Hand's first trip back to the circuit to race since the injury.
"We are not only looking forward to Laguna Seca, but to most of the other tracks that make up the rest of the season," said an optimistic Joey Hand. "We tested really well there and of all the tracks we race on, Laguna is the one that I have the most experience at. With the runs we had at Long Beach and Milwaukee, we are really looking forward to getting to tracks that we know and to make a charge at this Championship. DSTP has been working really hard the past couple of weeks to be sure that we are ready. Kent (Stacy) and all the guys are doing as good as they can to come up with a setup to get us out of the trailer as quick as we can be. Leading every session, including the race, is what we are going for."
DSTP was close to leading every session at the season opening event in Monterrey, Mexico before being edged out for the pole by Luis Diaz. Unfazed, Hand went to the lead early in the race only to have a mechanical problem end his day early while holding the top spot.
Solid runs at Laguna Seca and next week at Portland could launch DSTP right back in the thick of the Championship hunt heading into their home race in Cleveland over the July 4th weekend, where Hand finished second in 2001. After Cleveland, or the infamous "cut" in golfing terms, DSTP and Joey Hand hope to be in position to challenge for the 2003 Championship during the second half of the season. Through DSTP Motorsports, Dede Rogers has established herself as a true believer in promoting talented young American drivers into professional racing. Formed in 1994, DSTP first campaigned a team in the Dodge Shelby Pro Series before moving into the U.S. F2000 National Championship in 1995. Such notable drivers as Memo Gidley, Alex Barron, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Jerry Nadeau competed in cars fielded by DSTP before Buddy Rice swept to the Atlantic title during DSTP Motorsports first season in the series in 2000.