West Allis, Wis., (June 3, 2001) -- After battling the elements all weekend, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Milwaukee Mile, finally got in under cloudy and cold conditions. Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift)...
West Allis, Wis., (June 3, 2001) -- After battling the elements all weekend, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Milwaukee Mile, finally got in under cloudy and cold conditions. Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) broke into the win column for the first time in his Atlantic career after holding off a furious charge by rookie, Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) in the closing laps of the race.
After finishing second in the first two races of the season, Orsi decided that two runner-up finishes were enough. On the restart on lap 16, Orsi was able to get a good jump and passed Ryley on the outside in turn 1. Orsi never relinquished the lead, although Ryley kept the pressure on him for most of the race.
"It feels great!" said a relieved Orsi. "It's my first victory for Atlantics and our first for Hylton Motorsports. I'm very happy to give this first victory to Hylton. This whole team is great. They did a great job. Thanks to Keith Hylton. He's a great guy and he has helped me a lot. I am dedicating the race to Keith."
Ryley, who had his share of troubles the first two races, had the car to beat for most of the race, earning the $1,000 WorldCom "Fast Pace" award for running the fastest race lap, setting a track record with a speed of 150.127 mph (24.747 seconds). Ryley also earned his first ever $1,000 "Toyota Pole Award" during Friday's qualifying. "It's so great to be in the points, said Ryley. "For the third time out of three races this year, the World Speed team gave me an outstanding car. With a few more laps, we could have seriously challenged Hoover for the win."
The problem was that the Worldspeed car was at its worse on restarts. With four yellow flags slowing the race coupled with the cool conditions present this morning, Friday's pole winner lost positions and time on every restart. Ryley continued. "Our car was definitely better over the long run than it was on cold tires. On the first restart, I didn't get a good run and Hoover was able to get by me. From there, it was just a matter of getting into a good groove for the race. The race was great. This is the best oval car I've ever driven and, when it's right, there's nothing else like it. It's been good to get a couple of ovals under my belt, but I'm really looking forward to Montreal. Chuck West and Mike Doyle have always been fast there, so it will be good to have them on my side again."
The final yellow flew on lap 53 when Frank Dancs (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) spun in turn 1 making contact with the wall, thus, setting up the five lap sprint to the finish on lap 60. Orsi got a good jump on Ryley and David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift). Ryley closed the gap, but could never get a good enough run to pass Orsi as Brazilian driver held on to win by .198 seconds. "The car was great on cold tires," said Orsi. "When you have a good car, it makes your life a lot easier and you just have to keep your mind concentrated."
Rutledge's finish kept him very much in the thick of the championship hunt heading into a series of road course races where he is at his strongest. "We worked through a lot of things to get a podium quality car for this weekend," said Vancouver's David Rutledge. "We picked up a big push that kept me from challenging for the lead, but after the way things went at Nazareth, a podium finish here feels like a victory."
After a yellow flag start due to the spin of Gary Peterson (Automatic Fire Sprinklers Swift), Ryley jumped out to a big lead until lap 6, when the yellow flag came out again. Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift), who battled an ill handling race car the entire race, bobbled and slowed in turn 2. Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) ran into the rear of Ave and spun into the Turn 2 wall. Before stopping, Tom Wood (Worldspeed Motorsports/Super 8 Motels Swift) spun and clipped Lavin's car before also contacting the turn 2 wall. Joey Hand also spun and made light contact with the same wall with the right side of the car. Hand pitted the car for lengthy repairs and rallied to finish 12th. Lavin and Wood retired from the race due to contact. "He (Ave) lost his car in turn 1 and went to the high side so I decided to go low," said a disappointed Lavin. "Then he came back down to the lower line and gave me no place to go, and I hit him from the rear, and that was it." Ave continued on to finish fourth, keeping his second place spot in the Championship standings.
Orsi's win allowed him to extend his Championship points lead to 10 points with a total of 53 points, over Ave who stands at 43 points. Rutledge trails Ave by just one with 42 points. Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) moved up to fourth place in the points with a total of 25 points, with his sixth place finish today. Macri also took over the rookie of year lead after Lavin's troubles. Lavin drops to fifth place in the Championship staying at 20 points.
The other two yellow flags were due to the spin of Stephan Roy (P-1 Racing/StereoPlus Playstation 2 Momo Swift) on lap 21 and debris on lap 38. Roy spun the car at the exit of turn 4 after running side by side trying to pass Frank Dancs on the inside. Roy was able to keep the car off of the wall and continued on to finish seventh.
Rocky Moran (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) pitted his car on lap 31 falling off the lead lap, thus ending a consecutive lap streak dating back to the start of the 2000 season. Suffering from mechanical problems, Moran went on to finish ninth, 5 laps down behind the leader. Entering into the race at Milwaukee, Moran had completed every lap of 14 consecutive races.
Defending race champion, Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) drove a patch work car after Friday afternoon's practice crash, and rallied for a eighth place finish. "We had a new car and we didn't know how it would be for the race," said the Argentine driver. The guys did a good job though. They built a new car for the race in 24 hours. It was a big effort by the whole team, and now we're just thinking of Montreal."
Round 4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held next week in conjunction with the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Quebec.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 3 race from Milwaukee on Sunday, June 10, at 6:00 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, June 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the East and Ontario time zones, 7:00 p.m. in the Pacific, and June 13, at 9:00 p.m. in the West Zone. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Thursday, June 14, 2:00 p.m., ONTARIO, Wednesday, June 13, 5:00 p.m., Saturday, June 16, 7:00 p.m., Monday, June 18, 2:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Friday, June 15, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, June 16, 3:00 p.m., and WEST, June 17, 10:00 a.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Tuesday, June 12, at 3:30 a.m. ET. RACE