Hand's bid for pole in Monterrey falls short. Still holds front row starting spot for tomorrow's race. Monterrey, Mexico (March 22, 2003) - Heading into Saturday afternoon's final qualifying session, Joey Hand and his team, DSTP Motorsports, had...
Hand's bid for pole in Monterrey falls short.
Still holds front row starting spot for tomorrow's race.
Monterrey, Mexico (March 22, 2003) - Heading into Saturday afternoon's final qualifying session, Joey Hand and his team, DSTP Motorsports, had topped the time sheets in every session leading up to Sunday's 32-lap CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season opener in Monterrey, but the Sacramento, California driver was nipped out for the pole by home country favorite, Luis Diaz.
Hand held the provisional pole after yesterday's qualifying session with a time of 1:26.519 seconds (87.546 mph) which earned him a bonus Championship point along with a guaranteed front row starting spot. However, the DSTP team was certain that they would have to go faster on Saturday to keep the top spot and although they did improve their time to 1:25.385 seconds (88.709 mph) it was not enough to beat out Dorricott Racing's Diaz who posted a time of 1:24.960 seconds (89.153 mph). For the second straight year, Diaz and Hand will start the Monterrey event on the front row.
Hand climbed up the third overall spot in overall qualifying on his final lap around the 2.1-mile Fundidora Park road course, but the session was not as easy as the previous ones due to some slight damage to the left front wing which was suffered early in the session.
"At the beginning of the session, we worked on a race setup on older tires and we held off long as we could before going to our qualifying tires," said Hand on the session. "We put the new tires on, but we just could not get the times down quickly. I caught a little bit of traffic on my good laps after the tire change. I tried to throw down a good one at the end, but with the wing damage, that time was all it had in it."
The outside front row starting position is Hand's best since winning the pole last April in Long Beach. Following Diaz and Hand in the front row are fellow Championship contenders, A.J. Allmendinger and Michael Valiante.
"We are still very happy to be starting on the front row despite losing the pole to Luis (Diaz)," said the 2001 Rookie of the Year. "It has been a great weekend for DSTP so far. It was an interesting race last year and I'm looking forward to having another one again tomorrow."
After an early race shunt last year on a wet track which dropped him to 11th place, Hand stormed back through the field to finish third in the 2002 season opener in Monterrey. Hand will look for the same kind of performance tomorrow minus the shunt.
It is another early day for the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship tomorrow with an 8:00 a.m. CST warm-up session followed by the green flag for Round 1 race at 10:30 a.m. CST. Speed Channel will carry the race live at 11:30 a.m. EST.
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.