FACT SHEET THE KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 12 - Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 Sept. 11-12, 1998, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, Calif. THE EVENT: Round 12 of the 13-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic ...
THE KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 12 - Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 Sept. 11-12, 1998, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, Calif.
THE EVENT: Round 12 of the 13-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, held on the 2.238-mile permanent road course at Laguna Seca Raceway, as the Saturday feature race to Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300.
THE SERIES: The CART-sanctioned $1.35 million KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship is the richest open-wheel development series in North America and one of CART's key rungs on its ladder system, noted for its long history of graduating its stars directly into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART stars Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
ATLANTIC SCHEDULE: Friday, Sept. 11: Practice 8:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Qualifying 1:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12: Qualifying 12 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. RACE 3:30 p.m. 28 laps, 62.66 miles
CHAMPIONSHIP HEADING TO WIRE: Heading into the penultimate round of the 13-race Atlantic season, Player's-Forsythe driver Lee Bentham, of Richmond Hill, Ont., holds a 131-123 points lead over second-place Memo Gidley of Lynx Racing in the driver's championship. Andrew Bordin, in third place just 13 points behind the leader, still has a legitimate shot at the championship, driving for B.D.J.S. Matt Sielsky, in fourth with 102 points, two-time race-winner Alex Tagliani, in fifth with 101, Buddy Rice, in sixth with 97, and Anthony Lazzaro, in seventh with 92 points, also all have a mathematical shot at the title. But it appears to be a three-horse race between Bentham, Gidley and Bordin with two to go.
1998 RACE WINNERS: Rnd 1, Long Beach - Memo Gidley Rnd 7, Toronto - Alex Tagliani Rnd 2, Nazareth - Buddy Rice Rnd 8, Trois-Rivieres, Alex Tagliani Rnd 3, Gateway - Memo Gidley Rnd 9, Mid-Ohio - Lee Bentham Rnd 4, Milwaukee - Memo Gidley Rnd 10, Road America - Rnd 5, Montreal - Lee Bentham Anthony Lazzaro Rnd 6, Cleveland - Kenny Wilden Rnd 11, Vancouver - Andrew Bordin
Note: Seven different drivers have won Atlantic races in 1998. KOOL ROOKIE CHALLENGE: The battle for the KOOL Rookie of the Year has boiled down to a three-way fight between Bordin (118 pts.), Sielsky (102) and Rice (97). Bordin's victory last weekend at Vancouver not only put him back into the championship hunt, but provided some distance between Bordin and his fellow rookies in the battle for this prestigious honor.
ATLANTIC HISTORY AT LAGUNA SECA: The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship has raced at Laguna Seca 22 times heading into Saturday's race, going back to 1976. Previous Atlantic race winners at Laguna Seca were: Gilles Villeneuve (1976), Price Cobb (1976), John David Briggs (1984), John David Briggs (1985), Ted Prappas (1986), Tom Phillips (1986), Johnny O'Connell (1987), Jim Vasser (1987), Mitch Thieman (1988), Mark Dismore (1990), Mark Dismore (1990), Mark Dismore (1990), John Tanner (1991), Jim Vasser (1991), Mark Dismore (1992), Mark Dismore (1992), Jacques Villeneuve (1993), Jacques Villeneuve (1993), Richie Hearn (1994), Case Montgomery (1995), Patrick Carpentier (1996), and Alex Barron (1997).
LAST YEAR AT LAGUNA SECA: Lynx Racing teammates Alex Barron and Memo Gidley both were vying for the 1997 Atlantic championship heading into the finale, but Barron's pole position and subsequent victory at Laguna Seca wrapped up the title, which ultimately resulted in a step up to CART in 1998. David Pook, driving for B.D.J.S, finished with an Atlantic career-best second place, followed by Player's-Forsythe driver Alex Tagliani in third.
TELEVISION BROADCASTS: ESPN2 will televise Saturday's Round 12 at the Laguna Seca on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m., with repeat broadcasts onTuesday, Sept. 22, at 3 a.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 5 a.m., on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 5 a.m., and on Monday, Nov. 30, at 5 a.m. ESPN International will telecast the race on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. CTV will air it in Canada on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m., while French Canadian network RDS will broadcast the race on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.