DSTP's Joey Hand ready for Atlantic championship challenge Stage set for Atlantic season opener in Monterrey, Mexico Chesterland, Ohio (March 4, 2002) - In what is set to be the most exciting season ever in the Atlantic series' 29-year history,...
DSTP's Joey Hand ready for Atlantic championship challenge
Stage set for Atlantic season opener in Monterrey, Mexico
Chesterland, Ohio (March 4, 2002) - In what is set to be the most exciting season ever in the Atlantic series' 29-year history, DSTP Motorsports' Joey Hand is poised to launch a formidable challenge on the 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title, as well as cast his name in the record books as the winner of the Atlantic's inaugural visit to Fundidora Park, in Monterrey, Mexico.
The Atlantic series joins with the CART FedEx Championship for the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey this weekend for its first appearance in Mexico since becoming a national series in 1991. It also marks the first of 12-events this season for the Atlantic championship series.
Considered a favorite to win this year's championship, Hand returns for his second year in the series and second with DSTP, after claiming the Rookie of the Year title by finishing third overall with two wins, one pole, six podiums and two fastest race laps in last year's Atlantic series.
"I've been waiting for this weekend since our final race last year at Laguna Seca," said Hand, who hails from Sacramento, California. "It seems like it's been a long off season, but we've been able to make a lot of progress with the new cars. Testing went very well for us, but I'm a racer at heart and thrive on the wheel-to-wheel competition. There's no question that this is going to be a very competitive year and, especially, at the first race in Mexico. It's a new track for all of us, and we're all adapting to new cars, so the playing field is pretty level. It should be very exciting to see how things unfold this weekend."
"We're all very anxious to get the season started," said Dede Rogers, whose DSTP team won the 2000 Atlantic title in its rookie season with driver Buddy Rice. "Everything has gone very well in testing, but you never know where you really stand until the first race. Everyone has worked extremely hard over the past few months and a victory in Mexico would be the ideal way to begin the season."
Hand, 23, is no stranger to race victories or championship-winning seasons. As one of America's most recognized kart racers, he also captured the 1999 Star Mazda Pro Series before being selected to represent the United States in England's 2000 Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series.
As a factory pilot for Emmick Enterprises, Hand won seven national karting championships ranging from Junior Piston Port to shifter karts. His first taste of full size racecars came in 1996, when he entered two regional Formula Mazda races, and won both from pole position. In 1997, he was selected to attend the Team Green Academy and was awarded with second overall out of 150 candidates.
Hand, along with his father and several friends, started a Formula Mazda team for the 1998 Star Formula Mazda Pro Series, where he finished fourth overall with one win. In 1999, he moved to Kent Stacy's S3 Racing team and took both the Star Mazda Series West Division and the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship titles with eight wins and eight poles out of 14 races. Stacy now serves as Hand's engineer at DSTP.
Through DSTP, 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 Rice swept to the 2000 Atlantic title.
This weekend's Atlantic schedule begins with a test session on Thursday, March 7, beginning at 3:15 pm, followed by the first official practice session at 11:45 am on Friday, March 8. Qualifying begins at 9:00 am on Saturday, March 9, followed by the race at 3:00 pm. The race will be televised on a same day tape-delay basis on the SPEED CHANNEL at 9:30 pm Eastern.