Toyota Atlantic Championship Point Standings Tighten As Series Heads to Milwaukee for Lone Oval Event of the Season INDIANAPOLIS (June 2, 2004) - After overcoming a chaotic start that turned into an exciting race in Monterrey, Mexico two weeks...
Toyota Atlantic Championship Point Standings Tighten As Series Heads to Milwaukee for Lone Oval Event of the Season
INDIANAPOLIS (June 2, 2004) - After overcoming a chaotic start that turned into an exciting race in Monterrey, Mexico two weeks ago, the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama enters its third round this weekend with the only oval stop on the tour at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin.
A Turn One incident at the start of the race in Monterrey knocked several leaders out of contention early, including polesitter and series points leader Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works). Although Dalziel was able to recover and finish eighth south of the border, the incident opened up some doors for some of the other top open-wheel talents in the series and the result is a tightly packed leaderboard heading into this weekend's event - the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama (SPEED Channel; Sunday, June 6 - 2 p.m. ET).
Dalziel returns to Milwaukee as the defending champion of the event. He led all 70 laps last year for Sierra Sierra Enterprises, starting on the pole by virtue of his top practice time after qualifying was cancelled due to rain. The 22-year-old Scot is anxious to get back to the track where earned his first Atlantic win a year ago, but he has also seen his championship points lead dwindle following the result in Monterrey. A mere seven points currently separates the top four drivers in the points race.
"Needless to say I'm really looking forward to going to Milwaukee and hopefully taking another win," said Dalziel. "It was disappointing to run so well throughout practice and qualifying in Mexico only to be taken out at the start. On the positive side I retained the lead of the championship and I know as a team we'll continue to be strong this weekend." Looking to push Dalziel on the 1.032-mile oval this weekend will be his closest competitors in the points hunt. Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) sits second in the points after a strong third-place run in Monterrey. The Team Rahal driver now has produced four consecutive top-five finishes dating back to last season and she ran well at Milwaukee last year bringing home a sixth-place result.
Patrick is tied for second in the standings with talented young freshman Ronnie Bremer (#10 Port-A-Cool) with 46 points, just six behind Dalziel for the series lead. Bremer has recorded back-to-back fourth-place efforts to start the season and the Brooks Associates Racing pilot leads the 2004 BG Products Rookie of the Year standings over a promising crop of first-year Atlantic drivers.
Rocky Moran Jr. (#4 Health Privileges) hopes to use his experience at The Milwaukee Mile to draw closer to the top of the point standings this weekend. Moran took advantage of the mayhem in Lap 1 in Monterrey to finish second and earn some valuable points. He currently sits fourth in the standings, just seven points out of the lead and with three previous starts at Milwaukee he'll be looking to steer his Polestar Racing Group machine to the front of the pack.
The man who beat Moran to the checkered flag in Mexico, Alex Figge ((#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports) hopes to build on the momentum he earned from his first Toyota Atlantic victory. Figge took control of the race in Monterrey after staying pretty much clear of the first-lap fracas and he'll be looking for another good result on Saturday evening in an effort to draw even closer to the points leaders. The 22-year-old American trails Dalziel by 13 markers heading into this weekend.
After two consecutive top-six results to start the season, Jonathan Bomarito (#8 Dixien/Omnisource) hopes to continue his early success for Transnet Racing. Bomarito has proven to be one of the top rookies in this year's field as he sits fifth in the championship and trails only Bremer in the BG Products Rookie of the Year standings.
Another top rookie, Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) will be looking to get back on track this weekend after a tough second race at Monterrey. Following an impressive podium finish in Long Beach in his first Atlantic start, Ranger suffered the most damage in the opening-lap incident in Mexico and was forced to park the car after only one lap.
Another driver hoping to rebound after a disappointing result in Monterrey is Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing). After finishing on the podium in the season-opener in Long Beach, Sellers qualified second in Monterrey only fall back in the field due to the Turn 1 dustup. He wound up 12th with some mechanical problems but he's hoping to get back up front on the oval this weekend. Sellers' teammate at Lynx Racing, Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Core Group) will try to conquer his first oval in Milwaukee after a pair of top-10 finishes to start the season.
2002 Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) has qualified in the top four in the season's first two events but mechanical problems prematurely ended his day in Long Beach and he grabbed sixth place in Monterrey. Fogarty currently sits 11th in points heading into Milwaukee where he hopes to combine a good qualifying effort with a strong finish.
Third-year Toyota Atlantic driver Alex Garcia (#9 Dixien/Omnisource) has recorded two top-10 finishes in the first two events and hopes that trend will continue at The Mile while Team Rahal rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) earned a seventh-place finish in Monterrey and will look to improve upon that performance in his first Atlantic oval start.
All cars in the field this weekend are Swift chassis powered by 240-horsepower Toyota 4A-GE engines capable of speeds in excess of 165 mph. All cars will ride on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks.
The Toyota Atlantic cars will practice, qualify and race in the evening hours this weekend in Milwaukee as the Champ Car World Series prepares for its second consecutive year of racing under the lights at The Milwaukee Mile.
This weekend's schedule calls for the Atlantic machines to make their first appearance on the short oval on Thursday afternoon and again that evening. Rookie practice will be held from 3-3:30 p.m. CT Thursday, followed by a full-field Atlantic practice from 3:30-4 p.m. The cars return for evening practice Thursday from 6:30-7 p.m. On Friday, Atlantics will practice from 2:30-3:15 p.m. before a 60-minute single-car qualifying session in the evening from 6:15-7:15 p.m. During qualifying, each competitor will get two timed laps around the legendary oval and their starting position in the race will be determined by the fastest of the two laps.
Saturday's race day schedule calls for a 15-minute warm-up from 2:15-2:30 p.m. and Round 3 of the 12-race 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic race Presented by Yokohama is scheduled to take the green flag at 5:15 p.m. The scheduled distance for the race is 70 laps (72.24 miles), but is subject to a 50-minute time limit.
SPEED Channel will provide tape-delayed television coverage of the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic race Presented by Yokohama at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 6, and the event will also air to U.S. service men and women in 77 countries around the world through the American Forces Radio & Television Service. For additional information, visit the series' official web site, www.toyotaatlantic.com.