MONTREAL, Qc., (June 9, 2001)-- David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) knew going into Saturday's Round 4 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race, that if he made no mistakes, it was his race to lose. Rutledge indeed made no mistakes on his way to his...
MONTREAL, Qc., (June 9, 2001)-- David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) knew going into Saturday's Round 4 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race, that if he made no mistakes, it was his race to lose. Rutledge indeed made no mistakes on his way to his second straight victory at the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec. His Lynx Racing teammate Michael Valiante qualified and finished second, making this a repeat of the Lynx 1 -- 2 in 1996 with Patrick Carpentier and Jeret Schroeder.
Rutledge jumped in front going into the first turn and never relinquished the lead, despite being constantly hounded by his teammate, Michael Valiante, (Lynx Racing/Italian Motors/Copart Auto Auction Swift) who was competing in only his second Atlantic race. After shaking off an early battle from Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift), The Lynx Racing duo from Vancouver, BC, distanced themselves from the rest of the field and went on to finish just under 20 seconds ahead of the third place car of Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves).
"We were pretty much cruising the first half of the race, because we had a fair amount left after qualifying and we knew we could step up the pace any time we wanted," said race champion, David Rutledge. "We did have to look after the brakes and transmissions, but we weren't really worried about Joey Hand or any of the other people behind us being able to get by. We chose not to run ducting on the brakes for the aerodynamic advantage that created, and it worked out really well on this track with the long, high-speed straightaways. They tell me it was a historic win, that no other Atlantic driver has ever won back-to-back from the pole here, and it feels great. This is one of the greatest races in North America, with some of the best fans, and the energy they were giving me was a big help in the race."
Rutledge's win extended a streak to seven years straight in which Canadian drivers have won here in Montreal. The streak began with David Empringham's win in 1995. This win was also the third of Rutledge's career, all of them coming from the pole. Rutledge's pole earned him his third career $1,000 "Toyota Pole Award" during Friday's qualifying. Rutledge won last year's Montreal race, also from the pole, and won the 2001 Atlantic season opener at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beac h -- again from the pole. This is the first time in the 11-year history of Atlantic racing at Montreal that the same driver has taken back-to-back victories from the pole.
Valiante took over the lead in the Rookie of the Year chase with his runner-up finish. Valiante, 21, was pretty happy with his early results in the Atlantic Championship. "This being my second Atlantic race, my first time here, my first Atlantic start on a road course and my first Atlantic front row start, I didn't know quite what to expect. The team gave me a great car and I just tried to stay as close to David as I could and cruise along to the end. We had the same setup on my car as Long Beach so I knew how it would behave in the corners, and then it was just a case of surviving the bashing that David and I took on the opening lap. I brushed the wall in turn 10 toward the end of the race and was lucky not to damage anything. I closed back up on David at the end and we were very happy to be able to give Lynx its first 1 -- 2 at Montreal since Patrick Carpentier and Jeret Schroeder in 1996. I feel like I've been a part of history, and it feels great."
The fastest race lap was turned by Valiante earning his first ever $1,000 WorldCom "Fast Pace" Award with a time of 1:36.484 seconds (102.496 mph).
Rutledge has regained the lead in the championship battle with 64 points. Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) who entered into Saturday's race with a 10 point lead in Championship points, found trouble on the second lap when his gearbox failed. Orsi finished 20th, dropping into a second place tie in points with Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) with a total of 53 points. Both drivers stand 11 points behind Rutledge who has 64 points. Michael Valiante is now fifth in the points and leading the battle for rookie of the year honors despite having run only two of the four Atlantic races so far this season.
Round 5 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held in three weeks as part of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar at the Burke Lakefront Airport.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday's Round 4 race from Montreal on Saturday, June 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the East time zone, 7:00 p.m. in the Ontario and Pacific Zones, and 9:00 p.m. in the West zone. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Thursday, June 21, 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 22, 3:00 p.m., ONTARIO, Thursday, June 21, 4:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Thursday, June 21, 3:00 p.m., and WEST, Wednesday June 20, 4:00 p.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Wednesday, June 20, at 5:00 a.m. ET.