Luis Diaz scores hard earned sixth place at Long Beach Atlantic race. LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 13, 2003) - Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, fell victim to another's error for a second consecutive race but still defied odds to claim sixth place in...
Luis Diaz scores hard earned sixth place at Long Beach Atlantic race.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 13, 2003) - Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, fell victim to another's error for a second consecutive race but still defied odds to claim sixth place in round two of the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship on Sunday, April 13, at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Diaz, who suffered an opening lap incident in Atlantic's first race this season at Monterrey, Mexico, had his checkered flag ambitions sliced on lap seven of the 32-lap by others who mixed it up. Marc DeVellis rear-ended his Sierra Sierra Racing teammate, Ryan Dalziel, on lap seven. Both were forced to retire from the race but that didn't help Diaz as he struck DeVellis from behind in a nose-to-gearbox collision.
Diaz and DeVellis were flying through a blind corner when they came upon Dalziel's car that was stopped in the center of Turn One after it slid into a tire barrier. DeVellis didn't have any room to evade contact and the domino effect caught Diaz. Diaz was fortunate that his car-to-car contact was fairly light and his front wings were undamaged. He was able to resume the race after shifting his No. 33 Dorricott Racing-Telmex Swift into reverse and backing out.
"I didn't see the spin in front of me," said Diaz. "It happened too fast because the corner hid it. I came on the scene so fast that I couldn't make a defensive maneuver. It was fortunate that my nose took the direct hit instead of a front wing."
Diaz, who started fourth, dropped to 12th as a result of the skirmish with Dalziel and DeVellis but then mounted another aggressive comeback in the closing stages of the race. Diaz moved to within six spots of the leader and eventual race winner, A.J. Allmendinger. He even avoided yet another incident when he narrowly missed striking Danica Patrick's car after she slid into the tire barrier in Turn 1 on Lap 19.
"As for Danica's crash, well, it was too bad for her," said Diaz. "At least I was able to swerve out of the way and avoid hitting the tail of her car."
Sunday's race was also the first time that drivers from the same team swept the top two finishing positions since the event at Road America last year, in which Diaz and Jon Fogarty finished 1-2 for Dorricott Racing.
"This was obviously another tough luck day for Dorricott Racing," reflected Diaz later in the day. "I really try to avoid problems on the track but so far this season somebody or something has always found me. I know we have a fast car. I know I have a great crew. I also know this is something that happens in racing. Let's hope it happens more to others for the rest of the season."
Last year series runner-up, Michael Valiante, remains the Toyota Atlantic Championship leader with 33 points. Diaz is not far behind in sixth place with 17 points.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship now takes a seven-week break before its next event, The Milwaukee Mile 250 at the historic Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis. on Saturday, May 31. The race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel on Sunday, June 1.