The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Round 2, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 12-14, 2002, Long Beach, California Event: Round 2 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit in...
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship
Round 2, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
April 12-14, 2002, Long Beach, California
Event: Round 2 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit in Long Beach, California as Sunday's opening event at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Sunday's race will mark the 20th time since 1978, the Atlantic series has competed on the streets at this venue.
Race Series: The CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic Championship is the top rung on CART's "Ladder System", and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART Champ car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
Atlantic Schedule at Long Beach:
Friday, April 12:
Practice 8:30 a.m. -- 9:15 a.m.
Qualifying 12:45 p.m. -- 1:20 p.m.
Saturday, April 13:
Practice 9:00 a.m. -- 9:40 a.m.
Qualifying 1:00 p.m. -- 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14:
Warm Up 8:15 a.m. -- 8:30 a.m.
RACE 10:00 a.m. -- 11:00 a.m. (32 laps/62.98 miles)
Race: This weekend, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship returns to Southern California Preview: for its 20th year of participation in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Round 1 race last month at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, left plenty of questions unanswered including the most important one; "Who is the guy to beat heading into Long Beach?"
It was the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's first visit to Monterrey, Mexico and the conditions and results were far from what most had expected heading into the event. A notoriously slick track coupled with a torrential downpour moments before the race, left many teams wondering where they stacked up among the field of Atlantic competitors after the checkered flag waved.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will yield no unexpected surprises this weekend as the 1.968-mile street circuit has been a regular stop for the Atlantic Championship since 1990 when American, Mark Dismore, won the inaugural Atlantic event here from the pole. By the end of Sunday morning's 32-lap race, everyone should have a good indication of what the remaining part of the 12-event Championship should have in store. Last year's podium at Long Beach saw the same three drivers finish in the top of the 2001 Championship points.
In the previous events at Long Beach, American and Canadian drivers have combined for all twelve wins with the United State's drivers holding a slight edge, seven to five. The 2000 Long Beach Champion, Buddy Rice, is the only driver to win at Long Beach and go on to win the Championship in the same year.
Leading the list of drivers looking to win this weekend is Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift 014.a). The California native was a top contender heading into the 2002 season and started it with a third place finish in Monterrey. Dating back to last season, Hand has won the past two Atlantic races run on temporary street circuits like Long Beach. Victories last year at Vancouver and Houston coupled with his third place finish at Long Beach in 2001, make Hand one of the drivers to watch this weekend.
However, Hand's task will not be easy. The 2002 Atlantic Championship appears to be one of the most competitive in its 29-year history. The 2001 CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship team, Dorricott Racing, has fielded three teams in the Atlantic Championship this season and started off the first race of the 2002 campaign with a victory. With the win in Monterrey, Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a) assumed the early season point's lead heading into Long Beach. The California driver held off a furious late race charge from Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (Michael Shank Racing Swift 008.a) to take his first career Atlantic victory. While many struggled, Dalziel was right at home racing on the rain slickened track in Monterrey and now finds himself sitting second in Championship points with a total of 16 points. In between the hopeful looks for rain clouds, Dalziel will have to learn the Long Beach circuit quickly if he hopes to stay with some of the more experienced drivers at this track. Although Fogarty is an Atlantic rookie, he showed that he knows the track by qualifying second here last year in the Dayton Indy Lights event.
Fogarty's win at Monterrey also put him into position to chase Atlantic history. Since the Atlantic Championship became a unified series in 1991, no driver has won the season opening race and gone on to take the Championship. Mark Dismore won the season opening race at Long Beach in 1990 and went on to win the Pacific Division of the series while Brian Till captured the Atlantic Division title. Drivers who have won the season opening event, but failed to cash in on the Championship include David Rutledge, Dan Wheldon, Alex Tagliani, Memo Gidley, Anthony Lazzaro, Tony Ave, Patrick Carpentier, Greg Ray, Stuart Crow, Russell Spence, and Jimmy Vasser.
Fogarty's teammates should also factor in this weekend with their experience here. Luis Diaz (Dorricott Racing/Telmex Swift 014.a) and Alex Gurney (Dorricott Racing/Behr Castrol Swift 014.a) both had strong weekends in Monterrey. Diaz earned the pole while Gurney was constantly one of the fastest cars all weekend before dropping out midway due to contact with another competitor. Like Fogarty, Diaz ran at Long Beach last year in the CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship finishing 9th. Gurney ran Atlantic races here in 1999 and 2000 finishing 25th and 10th respectively.
No Championship contender has more experience on this track than Dalziel's teammate, Mexico's Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Modelo Swift 014.a). Before running his first season in the Atlantic Championship last year, Lavin competed in the CART Dayton Indy Light Championship for five years. Whether with the Atlantic Championship or with the Indy Lights, Lavin has been competing in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach since 1996. During his 2001 rookie Atlantic season, Lavin finished seventh here making it his best result at Long Beach. The final member of Shank's trio is Sepp Koster (Michael Shank Racing/Blue Bay Golf Resort Utert Respons Swift 008.a) who is looking to improve on his 13th place showing in Monterrey.
Lynx Racing returns as the defending race champion after capturing the victory last year with David Rutledge. Lynx returns with two capable drivers that had good results here in 2001. Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a) finished fourth in the 2001 event which was his first ever Atlantic race. Grant Ryley (Lynx Racing/Northwest Speedwerx Cupertino Electric Swift 014.a) qualified fifth last year driving for Worldspeed Motorsports. However, Ryley had to exit the race just two laps in due to a gearbox problem. Alex Figge (Worldspeed Motorsports/Redline Glycomax Ironclad Swift 014.a) took over the Worldspeed seat for 2002, and looks to improve on Ryley's 2001 effort.
The 2001 Championship team, Hylton Motorsports, got their season off to a disappointing start in Monterrey, but are coming to Long Beach reloaded with an additional driver. Brazil's Hoover Orsi piloted Hylton's car to a second place finish at Long Beach last year on his way to eleven podium finishes which propelled him to the Championship. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Medlock Ames Winery Swift 014.a) assumed the driving duties for Hylton for 2002; and this weekend, will sport a new teammate. Roger Yasukawa (Hylton Motorsports /Autobacs Ueno Clinic Pacific Creative Swift 008.a) joins Hunter-Reay at Hylton to make up a duel rookie effort. Both drivers were top contenders in the Barber Dodge Pro Series last year. Hunter-Reay hopes to get back in the Championship hunt after being eliminated from the Monterrey race on a wild first lap scramble.
First year team, Sigma Autosport, with Rocky Moran Jr (Sigma Autosport Swift 014.a) and David Wieringa (Sigma Autosport Swift 014.a) did not debut in the Atlantic Championship the way they had anticipated. Although Moran Jr., who is local to the Southern California area, finished sixth at Monterrey, he had his sights set higher after winning the season finale last year at Laguna Seca. This will be Wieringa's first look at Long Beach, while Moran Jr. will be running here for the third time with a best finish of eighth which came in 2000.
Other drivers in the hunt include Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Miller Genuine Draft Swift 008.a), Waldemar Coronas (Scuadra Fortia/Aviacsa Standox Maizoro Swift 014.a), and Stephan C. Roy (BBGP Racing Swift 008.a). Macri and Coronas both took home top-10 finishes from Monterrey while Roy will be making his first start of the season at Long Beach.
Late last week, Condor Motorsports announced that 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion, Nicolas Rondet (Condor Motorsports/Barber Dodge Pro Series Career Enhancement Award Swift 008.a) would join Frank Dancs (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift 014.a) for the remainder of the season. With the addition of Rondet, four of the top five in last year's Barber Dodge points Championship have moved up to the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has raced at Long Beach 19 times, dating History at: back to the 1978 season. The previous Atlantic winners at Long Beach were: Howdy Long Beach: Holmes (1978), Tom Gloy (1979, 1980),Geoff Brabham (1981, 1982), Hiro Matsushita (1989), Jimmy Vasser (1991), Mark Dismore (1992), Claude Bourbonnais (1993), Richie Hearn (1994), David Empringham (1995), Case Montgomery (1996), Alex Tagliani (1997, 1999), Memo Gidley (1998), Buddy Rice (2000) and David Rutledge (2001).
Last Year: Joey Hand grabbed the early lead in his first ever Atlantic start, but it was short lived Long Beach: as Atlantic veterans, Hoover Orsi and David Rutledge passed the young rookie in the early stages of the event. Midway through the race, Rutledge, who started from the pole, wrestled away the lead from Orsi and never looked back, going on to win the 32-lap event by 4.383 seconds.
The race was slowed by one yellow flag period when contact between Andrew Kirkaldy and T.J. Bell in the first turn slowed the race for the first three laps.
Speed Channel will broadcast Sunday's Round 2 race from Long Beach, California,
2:30 p.m. ET same day delay, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on RDS on May 26th at 10:30 a.m. Check www.toyotaatlantic.com for updated information.
Race Video Highlights:
CART Toyota Atlantic highlights from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sunday, April 14, 2002 will be announced shortly.
Next Race: The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will take another long break before kicking off the busy summer portion of the schedule at the historic Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin on Sunday, June 2, 2002. The race on the one-mile oval will start a stretch in the schedule that will see the Atlantic Championship in action in 10 of the next 14 weeks.