Milwaukee: Dorricott Racing race report

Dorricott Racing'S Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finish The Milwaukee Mile in fourth and fifth place Luis Diaz claims ninth place. WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2002) - - The Milwaukee Mile is never soft on any team or driver but Dorricott Racing ...

Dorricott Racing'S Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finish The Milwaukee Mile in fourth and fifth place Luis Diaz claims ninth place.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2002) - - The Milwaukee Mile is never soft on any team or driver but Dorricott Racing maneuvered through a difficult race weekend to claim two top-five positions and maintain its foothold in the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship following round three on Sunday, June 2.

Alex Gurney, of Newport Beach, Calif., started third and remained among the front-runners the entire 70-lap race around the 1.032-mile oval to finish an uncontested fourth place. What is more important, Gurney scored 12 championship points to keep pace as a Toyota Atlantic title contender.

Teammate Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, started sixth but never pushed his car past its realistic limits to finish a solid fifth place.

Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, struggled throughout the weekend with various set-up and tire problems but was able to start and finish the Temex Swift 014.a in ninth place.

"We didn't have a good weekend," reflected Diaz. "Friday was kinda wasted because we had problems with my car's balance. The team worked hard to get it fixed but it took time away from other things. We did fairly well in qualifying and thought the race would be even better but then a problem arose with one of my tires. It created a push I didn't have in practice. Overall, it was good to finish the race and score some points."

Fogarty remained the Toyota Atlantic Championship leader and increased his margin over Canadian Michael Valiante to five points, 46-41. Gurney and race winner Roger Yasukawa, of West Hollywood, Calif., moved into a tie for fourth place with 29 points. Diaz is next in sixth place with 26 points.

"It was nice to come away with a larger cushion in the points lead," said Fogarty. "Fortunate for me, many of the guys who finished ahead of me aren't yet in the points battle. Naturally, one always wants to win but we struggled a little not only this weekend but a couple of weeks ago while testing at The Mile. The weather wasn't on our side and it was one of those things where everything wasn't clicking. Regardless, we learned a lot at Milwaukee that should help us at the next oval race at Chicago."

The start of the race was moved up 20 minutes to 2:40 p.m. (CT) to reduce concerns that an approaching rain storm would interfere or postpone the event. A one minute moment of silence at 2:34 p.m. was observed by fans and participants at The Milwaukee Mile to honor Dorricott Racing founder Bob Dorricott, who passed away on April 26th. The command, "Gentleman, start your engines," was issued at 2:35 p.m.

The race ran under extremely opposing climatic conditions than drivers faced in practice and qualifying. Oppressive heat and high humidity on Friday and Saturday were replaced with low humidity and a temperature drop to 56 degrees (F) - a decline of nearly 40 degrees - by race time on Sunday afternoon.

Polesitter Ryan Hunter-Reay was fast on the race start and led the first 11 laps. Gurney moved to second place on the first lap but relinquished the position to Yasukawa and Jonathon Macri, of Canada, on lap three. Hunter-Reay and Yasukawa exchanged spots on laps 12 and 13 before Hunter-Reay powered ahead of 21-car field. Disaster struck Hunter-Reay on lap 44 when his engine blew to end his race.

Gurney moved back into second place on the lap 50 re-start and hounded race leader Yasukawa for the next 17 laps before being overtaken by Mexican driver Rodolfo Lavin. Macri was able to tag on the tail of Lavin's car during the pass of Gurney to put Gurney down one more position.

"I really wanted to run well this weekend," said Gurney. "Bob Dorricott passed away a little over a month ago and this was our first race without him. We all buckled down looking for good finishes for Bob. I started the race well. I was briefly in second place but Roger was just quicker. I had a good battle with Lavin for most of the race. However, he was a little quicker particularly out of the second corner. I thought I was catching Roger after the last re-start for first place but after things settled down, Lavin caught me, shot underneath, and then Macri drafted to the inside with Lavin. He was in the perfect position to slip past me because I ended up pushing wide. There wasn't any grip on the outer lines. Fourth place is tough but there are worse things that could have happened."

Fogarty remained the leader for Atlantic Rookie-of-the-Year honors with a 17-point lead over Yasukawa, 46-29. Diaz is in third place with his 26 points.

Fogarty also stayed on top of the Prize Money Leader board with a combined winner's purse of $42,500.

Round four of the 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship will be at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, June 8.


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Series Atlantic
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Luis Diaz , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Roger Yasukawa , Rodolfo Lavin