MICHAEL TODD DAVID POSTS A CONTENDER'S FINISH IN LONG BEACH KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC OPENER CORONA, Calif. (April 6, 1998) - Michael Todd David and the PDR-Water Joe Racing team showed they have...
MICHAEL TODD DAVID POSTS A CONTENDER'S FINISH IN LONG BEACH KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC OPENER
CORONA, Calif. (April 6, 1998) - Michael Todd David and the PDR-Water Joe Racing team showed they have what it takes to challenge for the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship crown after finishing sixth in Saturday's Atlantic season opener at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The 25-year-old third-year Atlantic veteran from Corona, Calif., started the race ninth, and once fell to 11th before strategically carving back through the field to as high as fifth place. Long Beach marked David's second consecutive top-six Atlantic finish including last year's fourth-place finale at Laguna Seca Raceway in September. Sunday's finish was worth 10 championship points and positioned David sixth in the Atlantic championship standings.
Cool, rainy weather hampered the team throughout the weekend. David was only able to complete four dry laps in Friday's first-round qualifying session before a slow moving rain storm pummeled the track. Qualifying times failed to improve in Saturday's final qualifying due to a persistent rain drizzle.
"It's nice to be in the points so early and it proves to our team that our off-season testing had merit," said David. "We would have liked a top-five but we aren't knocking sixth place. The track was extremely slippery so coming out of corners was scary and you couldn't hit the throttle until third gear. There were numerous times when I felt I was hydroplaning."
David's most precarious moment around the eight-turn 1.574-mile seaside street circuit came on lap 27 of the 38-lap (59.812 miles) race. Lee Bentham, who was in third place, spun out while exiting the "hairpin" corner of turn eight and onto the front straight-away. Bentham's car was essentially in a blind spot for approaching cars.
"As I was rounding the corner, I saw the yellow flag and my team radioed that there was a car stopped the track," said David. "They didn't know where Bentham had stopped so I decided to stay in the middle so I could react in either direction. I was going faster than I thought through the corner and ended up having to take an outside line to avoid contact. It was close but I was able to tip-toe past Bentham without striking him or the wall."
David's weekend proved just as successful off the track with two key executives from Chicago-based Water Joe watching the PDR Enterprises-prepared Water Joe Ralt RT-41 race with the front-runners in the 34-car field. The team also provided a full weekend of race site entertainment to over 70 guests including principal executives from the INTEPgroup, the Los Angeles-based full service image marketing company that provided driver cards and posters for the team's on-site promotion activities.
David was greeted Thursday morning by 34 energetic fourth and fifth graders from Butterfield Elementary School in Moreno Valley, Calif., who had raised the funds to pay for the 140 mile round-trip bus venture to Long Beach in order to meet with their favorite Atlantic driver and wish him well. David met each student to sign autographs, distribute Water Joe Racing souvenirs, and answer questions about racing.
The next stop for Water Joe Racing in the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship will be round two on the high-speed one-mile oval at Nazareth Speedway (Pa.) at the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix on Saturday, April 25.
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