Long Beach: Joey Hand preview

DSTP's Joey Hand seeks Long Beach Atlantic win . Hand is the highest returning podium finisher from last year's race. Chesterland, Ohio (April 6, 2002) - After starting second and finishing third in last year's Long Beach Atlantic race -- his ...

DSTP's Joey Hand seeks Long Beach Atlantic win .
Hand is the highest returning podium finisher from last year's race.

Chesterland, Ohio (April 6, 2002) - After starting second and finishing third in last year's Long Beach Atlantic race -- his first career CART Toyota Atlantic start -- DSTP Motorsports driver Joey Hand returns this year as a favorite to win the event as well as challenge for the 2002 Atlantic Championship title. Not only is Hand the highest returning podium finisher from last year's race, he's also the highest placed returning driver from last year's Atlantic championship series, where he finished third overall and captured the Rookie-of-the-Year award.

This weekend's race, the featured support event of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach CART FedEx Championship weekend, marks the second round of the 12-race 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship series. Last month, Hand finished third and captured his first podium finish of the year at the season opener in Monterrey, Mexico. He is currently on a five-race podium finishing streak, as well as a two-race winning streak on temporary street courses (Vancouver and Houston), dating back to last season's ninth round at Road America.

"Long Beach is the race that everybody wants to win, and I want to win it bad," said Hand, who led six laps at Long Beach last year. "Long Beach is a true street race and the track suits my style. It's a kart racer's track -- very tight, and not a lot of room for error. Most importantly, you really have to hustle the car, go over the curbs, and let it out right to the wall to lay down a fast lap. It's exactly the type of place I grew up racing on. This is also the first time I'll be racing on a track that I've raced an Atlantic car at before, which should play in our favor. I've really been waiting for this one since last year and we're looking forward to a great weekend in Long Beach."

"I absolutely love coming to Long Beach," said Dede Rogers, an El Paso, Texas native, whose DSTP team won the race in 2000 and went on to win the Atlantic championship title in its rookie season with driver Buddy Rice. "We won our first time here in 2000, and Joey did such an outstanding job last year in his very first Atlantic race. There's no other race in the country like Long Beach, and we're all very excited about having another excellent race this weekend."

Hand, 23, of Sacramento, California, is no stranger to race victories or championship-winning seasons. As one of America's most recognized kart racers, he also captured the 1999 Star Mazda Pro Series before being selected to represent the United States in England's 2000 Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series.

As a factory pilot for Emmick Enterprises, Hand won seven national karting championships ranging from Junior Piston Port to shifter karts. His first taste of full size racecars came in 1996, when he entered two regional Formula Mazda races, and won both from pole position. In 1997, he was selected to attend the Team Green Academy and was awarded with second overall out of 150 candidates.

Hand, along with his father and several friends, started a Formula Mazda team for the 1998 Star Formula Mazda Pro Series, where he finished fourth overall with one win. In 1999, he moved to Kent Stacy's S3 Racing team and took both the Star Mazda Series West Division and the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship titles with eight wins and eight poles out of 14 races. Stacy now serves as Hand's engineer at DSTP.

Through DSTP, 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 Rice swept to the 2000 Atlantic title.

This weekend's Atlantic schedule begins with the first official practice session at 8:30 am on Friday, April 12, followed by the first qualifying session at 12:45 pm. Saturday morning practice starts at 9:00 am before final qualifying at 1:00 pm. The 32-lap race begins promptly at 10:00 am on Sunday, April 14, and will be televised that same day on SPEED Channel.

Further information is available on the team's web site at www.dstpmotorsports.com, or the Atlantic series site at www.toyotaatlantic.com.

-dtsp-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Jerry Nadeau , Memo Gidley , Joey Hand , Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Sam Hornish Jr.