FACT SHEET THE KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP Round 5, Grand Prix Air Canada June 11-12, 1999, Montreal, Que., Canada EVENT: Round 5 of the 12-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, held on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal,...
THE KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 5, Grand Prix Air Canada June 11-12, 1999, Montreal, Que., Canada
EVENT: Round 5 of the 12-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, held on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Que. Saturday's KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Grand Prix Air Canada will mark the 19th time since 1978 the series has competed here.
RACE SERIES: The CART-sanctioned KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship is a key rung on CART's "Ladder System" and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
ATLANTIC SCHEDULE AT MONTREAL: Friday, June 11: Practice 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Qualifying 2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Saturday, June 12: RACE 2:30 p.m. 27 laps/75 miles (approx.)
DÉJÀ VU FOR BENTHAM?: Reigning KOOL/Toyota Atlantic champion Lee Bentham (Player's-Forsythe Racing), of Newmarket, Ont., recorded his first victory of the season last Saturday at Milwaukee, where ironically last year he used his second-place finish to catapult him back into the championship race. At this time last year, Bentham went on to win the Montreal race, and ultimately, the 1999 Atlantic Championship.
LAZZARO MAKES MOST OF IT: Life handed points leader Anthony Lazzaro a lemon at the start of last week's Milwaukee race, so he made lemonade. After Andrew Bordin made an aggressive push for the lead past polesitter Lazzaro at Milwaukee, resulting in contact between Bordin and Alex Tagliani and damaging Lazzaro's PPI-MCI WorldCom Swift, Lazzaro was forced to pit several times, dropping him to the back of the field. By race's end, however, Lazzaro had mixed timely patience with timely passes to produce a remarkable fifth-place finish. And given Tagliani's turn 1 bad luck that ended the day for Tagliani and Bordin, Lazzaro even built on his points lead in the championship in the process. Lazzaro now leads second-place Buddy Rice by a 71-42 points margin. Bentham's victory moved him from seventh to third in the standings with 39 points, followed in fourth place by Kenny Wilden (who finished second at Milwaukee) with 37 points. Tagliani entered the Milwaukee race in second place, but fell to fifth after his incident with Bordin on the opening lap last week. Tagliani remains at 35 points, followed by fellow Canadian David Rutledge in sixth with 31 points.
CANADIAN DRIVERS: Canadians will represent 10 of the 30 Atlantic drivers scheduled to compete at Montreal, including six drivers in the top-10 points standings. Canadian drivers entered are led by defending series' champion Lee Bentham of Newmarket, Ont. (3rd in points), Kenny Wilden of Burlington, Ont. (4th in points), Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que. (5th ), David Rutledge of W. Vancouver, B.C. (6th), Jean-Francois Veilleux of Boucherville, Que. (8th), Andrew Bordin of Woodbridge, Ont. (10th), Cam Binder of Calgary, Alta. (15th), Eric Jensen of New Castle, Ont. (23rd), and Atlantic newcomers Brian Westerlund of Surrey, B.C., and Christophe Beauvais of St.-Agathe, Que.
1999 ATLANTIC RACE WINNERS: Rnd 1, Long Beach: Alex Tagliani Rnd 2, Nazareth: Anthony Lazzaro Rnd 3, Gateway: Anthony Lazzaro Rnd 4, Milwaukee: Lee Bentham
1999 ATLANTIC POLE WINNERS: Rnd 1, Long Beach: Kenny Wilden Rnd 2, Nazareth: Anthony Lazzaro Rnd 3, Gateway: Anthony Lazzaro Rnd 4, Milwaukee: Anthony Lazzaro
BACK ON THE ROAD: Round 5 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will mark the first road course for Atlantic competitors since the April 17 season opener at Long Beach. The previous three races were on ovals. Seven of the final eight races on the 1999 Atlantic schedule will be held on street or permanent road courses.
LAST YEAR AT MONTREAL: Player's-Forsythe teammates Lee Bentham and Alex Tagliani staged one of most memorable races of the season here last year, swapping the lead through the final three laps, with Bentham eventually passing Tagliani on the final turn and edging him at the finish. The victory marked the official charge of the Player's-Forsythe team that resulted in Bentham's championship at season's end. Lynx Racing's Buddy Rice fought with the Player's tandem for the first half of the race, and finished third.
ATLANTIC HISTORY AT MONTREAL: Previous Atlantic race winners at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are Jeff Wood (1978), Howdy Holmes (1979), Jacques Villeneuve (1980), Kevin Cogan (1981), Tim Coconis (1982), Roberto Moreno (1983), Scott Goodyear (1986), Scott Harrington (1988), Scott Goodyear (1989), J.O. Cunningham (1990), Jim Vasser (1991), Chris Smith (1992), Jacques Villeneuve (1993), Richie Hearn (1994), David Empringham (1995), Patrick Carpentier (1996), Bertrand Godin (1997), and Lee Bentham (1998).
TELEVISION BROADCASTS: ESPN2 will televise Saturday's KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Montreal on Saturday, June 19, at 12 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on Thursday, June 24, at 4 a.m., and again at 2 p.m. The French-speaking RDS Canadian network will broadcast the Montreal race on Sunday, July 11. ESPN International will televise the Montreal race on Saturday, June 19, at 12 p.m. All times are Eastern. Canadian broadcaster CTV SportsNet is airing the race on Tuesday, June 22, at 8 p.m. in all local markets.
NEXT RACE: Round 6 of the 12-race 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship is set for Sunday, July 11, at the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.