Just when they thought the 2003 season could not get any stranger, DSTP Motorsports and Joey Hand added another entry into the long list of misfortunes. Before Hand could even climb into the car, a freak accident damaged the left front tire...
Just when they thought the 2003 season could not get any stranger, DSTP Motorsports and Joey Hand added another entry into the long list of misfortunes. Before Hand could even climb into the car, a freak accident damaged the left front tire sending Hand to the back of the field for the start of the 55-lap race.
Even though the car had not posted top-five numbers all weekend in Miami, Hand felt confident that he could attain a good finish in the race. Hand had climbed through the field many times in 2003 after starting races from the mid to rear of the pack. As Hand talked to crew members and friends of the team, his mid pack starting spot turned into a tail end of the field spot moments before the start your engines command was given.
While sitting on a crowded pit lane, the DSTP Swift was struck by another team's car as it was being towed through a tight spot. When it was all over, the left front wheel suffered a broken valve stem which in turn caused the tire to go flat. The DSTP team rushed the damaged tire back to the paddock where Yokohama tire engineers made quick repairs. In the meantime, a worn tire that was used earlier in the weekend was put on the car. As the start command was given, the car was still being pushed to the grid and Hand missed the opening parade lap. Once Hand got onto the track, he was instructed that he could not assume his seventh position on the starting grid and would have to start at the tail end of the field. Hand would then pit to get the repaired Yokohama tire which had made it back from the paddock. When the green flag dropped, Hand was back on the track, but already a half lap behind the field.
A rare break came early in the race as the yellow flag flew due to Phillip Fayer's spin in Turn 1. The yellow allowed Hand to rejoin the tail end of the field where he would begin his march up the standings. Through attrition and on-track passes, Hand climbed through the field for a hard earned sixth place finish.
Michael Valiante won the final event of the 2003 season leading all 55 laps. Danica Patrick and Ryan Dalziel completed out the podium in Miami. Patrick entered the race in seventh place in the Championship standings and only trailed Hand by five points. Patrick's finish, coupled with Hand's problems in Sunday's race, allowed her to slip by Hand in the Championship. Patrick's total of 108 points edged out Hand who has a total of 107 points.
For those that missed today's race on Speed Channel, you can see it again on September 29th at 3:00 pm EST, and October 3rd at 1:30 pm EST.
Hand on Sunday Race:
"To salvage sixth out of that after what happened is pretty good I guess. I'll tell you one thing, this team has worked their butts off for me the past three years and to have it end this way is disappointing. Even with all the struggles including today, they have stuck with me and that is what I appreciate the most. We'll take the sixth and go our separate ways, but I'm sure some of us we'll be together somewhere on down the road."
"After what happened on the grid, I said--.."Oh no, here we go again." It seems like we can't catch the breaks and to have something broke on the car before I even get into it just kind of sums up how this season has gone for us. It is nothing new to me having to come up through the field and although I was fuming, I knew that the car was good and I might be able to piece together a decent finish."
Through DSTP Motorsports, Dede 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 Buddy Rice swept to the Atlantic title during DSTP Motorsports first season in the series in 2000.