If Joey Hand could have picked any track to mount a charge on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Milwaukee Mile would have been at the bottom of the list. After being swept up in a crash in the 2001 event and then suffering injuries...
If Joey Hand could have picked any track to mount a charge on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Milwaukee Mile would have been at the bottom of the list. After being swept up in a crash in the 2001 event and then suffering injuries in a testing accident last year, the 1.032-mile circuit in West Allis, Wisconsin, is certainly not one of his favorites on the 12-race schedule.
After a 2001 season that saw him finish third in the points and earning the Rookie of the Year award, Hand entered the 2002 season as one of the favorites to win the Championship. After a third place finish in the 2002 Monterrey, Mexico season opener and a pole in Long Beach, Hand was involved in a hard testing accident at the Milwaukee Mile just a week before the Round 3 race there. The injuries knocked Hand out of the following six races, and a chance for the 2002 Championship.
"Obviously, it is not my most favorite place to come to anymore because of what has happened here in the past," said Hand on his return trip to Milwaukee. "At the same time, I would like a little bit of redemption and come out of Milwaukee a race winner. If I just end up making the car putt around for the length of the race and get some points, then that is what I have to do. That is what we are focusing on this time around. If we can end up winning, that will be fine as well, but we just need to score up some good points and then we can get to some tracks I really like; Laguna Seca, Portland, and Cleveland."
Hand enters the Milwaukee event needing a solid finish to charge back into contention in the points chase. A mechanical failure while leading at the season open race in Mexico and a struggling seventh place finish at Long Beach has placed Hand tenth in the Championship chase, 23 points behind Michael Valiante.
The DSTP Motorsports team spent much of the break after Long Beach catching up on their testing and the results have restored the confidence that was shaken after the season's first two races. After the mechanical failure in Mexico, it was also discovered that the problems at Long Beach were just bad luck and Kent Stacy, DSTP Motorsports Engineer, feels that they have had more than their share for the season already.
"The break after Long Beach allowed us to catch up on some testing that we didn't get to do before the start of the season," said Stacy. "The testing went really well with us putting down our fastest times ever at most of the tracks we visited, so I feel pretty good about going into Milwaukee. Of course, we really won't know where we stand until we get on the track with the other teams and I'm hoping we have already used all of our bad luck for the season."
Round 3 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite can be seen tape delay on Speed Channel on Sunday, June 1st at 3:00 p.m. ET, and on Monday, June 2nd at 1:00 p.m. ET. Following the first and only oval event on the 2003 schedule, the series heads out west for events at Laguna Seca and Portland on June 14th and 21st.
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.