Laguna Seca preview

(September 5, 2000) -- The battle to determine the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic champion heads into its home stretch this weekend, as the series moves to the scenic 2.238-mile road course at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, for Round 10 of the ...

(September 5, 2000) -- The battle to determine the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic champion heads into its home stretch this weekend, as the series moves to the scenic 2.238-mile road course at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, for Round 10 of the 12-event schedule. This weekend's competition is the Saturday feature race at the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300, and marks the 25th time the Atlantics have raced at Laguna Seca.

While the hunt for the championship is anything but over, Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a), extended his advantage to 22 points in Road America after posting his fifth win and second victory in a row, a little over two weeks ago. Rice, who has earned podium finishes in every single race he has completed this season, leads rookie Daniel Wheldon (PPI Motorsports/Jayhard Products/Swift 008.a) 141-119, and counts 38 points between himself and Andrew Bordin (PPI Motorsports/WorldCom/Team Player's/Swift 008.a), and rookie Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves/Swift 008.a), who are tied in third place with 103 points.

Wheldon, Bordin and Basso continue to be formidable adversaries for the veteran Rice, with each driver strategically earning points and minimizing any serious risks that would take them out of the championship race. All three have secured one race win apiece, and have collected 13 additional podium finishes between them. Wheldon, who remains in the lead for Rookie of the Year honors, won his first Atlantic race in Miami, and has earned thtwo second and two ird place finishes, recording three pole positions thalong the way.

Argentinean Basso, marked his first Atlantic podium appearance with a win on his first ever- oval track at Milwaukee, and has since logged two additional top-three finishes, as well as a record breaking qualifying performance at Road America.

Drivers on the fast track:

With the race for the championship strongly focusing on the series top four drivers, fifth place Rocky Moran Jr. (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Corp./Swift 008.a) continues to demonstrate strong potential, recording a sixth place finish at Road America and continuing his run as the only Atlantic driver this season to complete all race laps.

Alex Gurney (All American Racers/Swift 008.a) who earned his first career Atlantic podium a Trois Rivieres, moved ahead of William Langhorne (Active Motorsports/findthe.com/Swif 008.a) and is now eighth in the standings.

Newcomers / Returning Faces:

Twol new drivers will participate in this weekend's race at Laguna Seca.

Bakir Begovic will fill a third seat at Cobb Racing while Stan          
d'Oultremont will run the third car at Michael Shank Racing.            

Veteran Atlantic racer Case Montgomery teams up with Akihiro Asai at Chuck West's World Speed Motorsports. Montgomery, who has been working as driver coach and parts manager for West's Star Mazda program, was also the pole sitter and Atlantic race winner at Laguna Seca in 1995. In his 37 Atlantic appearances Case has recorded a total of nine podiums, including an additional win from pole at Long Beach in 1996.

Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports) 1st in points "This weekend is going to be a big race for us. We need another strong finish to keep our momentum up for the final swing of three races. Laguna Seca is the last natural road course we'll race on this season before we move on to the oval at Gateway and the finale in downtown Houston. It's also one of my favorite tracks and seems to suit my driving style quite well. You have to be aggressive and really hustle the car through some parts, yet very smooth and precise in other areas. It's a tough track to get right, but when you do, there's no place else quite like it. I think we'll have a good package at Laguna and all of us at DSTP really want to win this one."

Daniel Wheldon (PPI Motorsports/Jayhard Products) 2nd in points "There's no question about it. I'm going for it. I am so looking forward to this race. I have absolutely nothing to lose at this point and it's time to make a move. If I have to make a pass to win, I'll make it, it may even involve a lot risk. I'll be smart about it, I won't compromise safety, but you can be sure that I will do everything in my power to win this race. It (the season) is not over yet."

Alex Gurney -- 8th in points "Coming to Laguna Seca with top five finishes in the last two races, we're certainly aiming to win one. We know that we have a good, fast racecar and we'd like to take one win, and hopefully, all three! I really like this racetrack, road courses are certainly my strength. We know that we are not in the championship race at this point, so I think we can afford to take a few more chances that the top guys. It should be a great weekend."

<pre> TOP TEN Pos. Driver Pts 1 Buddy Rice 141 2 Daniel Wheldon (R) 119 3 Andrew Bordin 103 4 Martin Basso (R) 103 5 Rocky Moran Jr. 83 6 David Rutledge 60 7 Hoover Orsi (R) 57 8 Alex Gurney 49 9 William Langhorne 48 10 Mike Conte 35

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday, September 8:

Practice 9:40 a.m. -- 10:10 a Qualifying 1:45 p.m. - 2:15 p .m.

Saturday, September 9:

Qualifying 9:10 a.m. -- 9:40 a.m RACE 4:00 p.m. (30 laps)

LAST YEAR AT LAGUNA SECA:

1999 -- Anthony Lazzaro clinched the Atlantic Championship with his fourth victory of the season. Starting on the pole, Lazzaro, who needed a fourth place finish or better to earn the championship, never waivered, leading all 30 laps, eventually beating second place finisher, Buddy Rice and Andrew Bordin, who finished third.

TRACK RECORDS (Modifications to track in 1996)

Qualifying Record Alex Barron 1 min, 18.755 s 102.302 mph 09/05/1997

Race Record (avg. speed) Alex Barron 37 min, 50.484 s 99.357 mph 09/06/1997

Fastest Race Lap Alex Barron 1 min, 19.355 s 101.528 mph 09/06/1997

Track Type: 2.238-mile road course

Past Winners 1976: Gilles Villeneuve (CDN), March 76B-Ford (G) 1976: Price Cobb (USA), March 76B-Ford (G) 1984: John David Briggs (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1985: John David Briggs (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1986: Ted Prappas (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1986: Tom Phillips, (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1987: Johnny O'Connell (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1987: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Ford (G) 1988: Mitch Thieman (USA), Swift DB-4-Ford (G) 1990: Mark Dismore (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1990: Mark Dismore (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1990: Mark Dismore (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1991: John Tanner (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1991: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1992: Mark Dismore (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1992: Mark Dismore (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1993: Jacques Villeneuve (CDN)** Ralt-RT-40-Toyota (Y) 1993: Jacques Villeneuve (CDN)** Ralt-RT-40-Toyota (Y) 1994: Richie Hearn (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1995: Case Montgomery (USA), Ralt RT-41-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: Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a -Toyota (Y)

Past Polesitters 1976: Johnny Gerber (MEX), Chevron B34-Ford (G)* Heat Races in 1976 for front row start Race #1 1976: Dan Marvin (USA), Lola T360-Ford (G)* Heat Races in 1976 for front row start Race #1 1976: Tom Gloy (USA), Tui BH2-Ford (G)* Heat Races in 1976 for front row start Race #2 1976: Bobby Rahal (USA), March 76B-Ford (G)* Heat Races in 1976 for front row start Race #2 1984: Jimmy Santos (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1985: John David Briggs (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1986: Ted Prappas (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1986: Tom Phillips, (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1987: Johnny O'Connell (USA), Ralt RT-4-Ford (G) 1987: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Ford (G) 1988: Dean Hall (USA), Swift DB-4-Ford (G) 1990: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1990: R.K. Smith (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1990: Mark Dismore (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1991: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1991: Jimmy Vasser (USA), Swift DB-4-Toyota (Y) 1992: Charles Nearburg (USA), Ralt RT-40-Toyota (Y) 1992: Charles Nearburg (USA), Ralt RT-40-Toyota (Y) 1993: Jacques Villeneuve (CDN)** Ralt-RT-40-Toyota (Y) 1993: Jacques Villeneuve (CDN)** Ralt-RT-40-Toyota (Y) 1994: Richie Hearn (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1995: Case Montgomery (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1996: Patrick Carpentier (CDN), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1997: Alex Barron (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y) 1998: Lee Bentham (CDN), Swift 008.a -Toyota (Y) 1999: Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a -Toyota (Y)

** Son of Gilles Villeneuve

TELEVISION COVERAGE

ESPN2 Sun., September 24, 10:00 Repeat Wed, September 27, 5:00 a.m.

ESPN Int'l Sun., September 24, 10:00 a.m.

RDS Sat., September 23, 8:30 a.m.

CTV Mon., September 18, 7:00 p.m. Ontario, East, West & Pacific Regions

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Alex Gurney , Mark Dismore , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Johnny O'Connell , Richie Hearn , Martin Basso , Hoover Orsi , David Rutledge , Rocky Moran Jr. , Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Gilles Villeneuve , Buddy Rice , Price Cobb , Andrew Bordin , Tom Gloy , Akihiro Asai , Michael Shank , Charles Nearburg , David John , Lee Bentham
Teams Michael Shank Racing