Nazareth, Pa., (May 6, 2001) - After winning the pole using practice speeds when qualifying was washed out on Saturday, Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) showed the weekend belonged to him as he led flag-to-flag in Round 2 of the...
Nazareth, Pa., (May 6, 2001) - After winning the pole using practice speeds when qualifying was washed out on Saturday, Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) showed the weekend belonged to him as he led flag-to-flag in Round 2 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at Nazareth Speedway. The victory was the first win for Bill Fickling and Robin Yount's P-1 Racing since Mark Dismore won Nazareth in 1994 running a Swift DB4.
The win is the second victory for the Hurley, Wisconsin native. Ave's first win came in 1996 at the Miami/Homestead Speedway. "I'm very happy," said an exuberant Tony Ave. "We had a really good car, and we could control the race from up front. I just ran as hard as I thought I needed to. Then, I saw that Hoover (Orsi) had plenty of race car but, in my draft, he had some trouble. I knew as long as I didn't make any mistakes, I could win." Even though Ave won the race and led every lap, the run was no walk in the park.
Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift), who started outside of Ave, stayed within one second of the leader for the entire race. Orsi got within .4 seconds in the closing laps of the race, but could never mount a serious threat to take the win away from Ave. "I was running behind Tony, really close to him," said the Brazilian pilot. "But, when you run close at a track like this one, you have "push" problems. I think my car was quicker than his, but there was no way I could pass him. The only way I could was if he made a mistake, but he didn't. Tony (Ave) drove a really good race, really consistent."
With back-to-back runner-up finishes, Orsi moved into the points lead with a total of 32 points, with Ave one point behind at 31 points. "At the beginning of the week, I told myself I wanted to be at the head of the championship points by the time I finished this race, and I did it," said Orsi. David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) never found the handling on the .946-mile tri-oval, finishing seventh, dropping him to third place in Championship points with a total of 28. "It was a character building weekend," said the Vancouver, Canada driver. "We never quite found the setup, although my car was reasonable in the race. We'll be testing on an oval between now and Milwaukee where we struggled last year."
Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) completed his best career Atlantic finish as he came home third. Lavin earned his first ever $1,000 WorldCom "Fast Pace" award for running the fastest race lap setting a track record with a speed of 147.697 mph (23.058 seconds).
P-1 Racing nabbed three of the top-5 spots as a pair of Canadian drivers finished fourth and fifth. Gormley, Ontario's Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec's Stephan C. Roy (P-1 Racing/Momo Swift) took the spots respectively.
The race was slowed by two caution periods beginning on the first lap when Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) got loose and spun in Turn 1. Basso made no contact, and righted the car to go on to an eighth place finish. The second incident brought out the yellow flag for 14 laps. On the 20th lap, Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) lost control of his car over the tricky bumps in turn 2, and made hard contact with wall at the exit of the turn. Ryley's teammate, Tom Wood (Worldspeed Motorsports/Super 8 Motels Swift) lost control trying to avoid the accident and hit the wall in the very same spot. Wood's car came to rest right next to Ryley. Finally, T.J. Bell (Cobb Racing Swift) was struck by bad luck again. Bell also lost control, and hit the turn 2 wall. All three drivers were eliminated from the race, but were uninjured in the incident.
Tony Ave earned his first ever $1,000 "Toyota Pole Award" with his fastest lap turned in practice. However, Ave did not earn the championship bonus point for the pole since qualifying did not take place.
Rocky Moran Jr. (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) finished sixth, on the lead lap. This continued his impressive streak of consecutive races finishing every lap. This makes 14 straight races where Moran Jr. has completed every lap for a total of 568.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 2 race from Nazareth on Sunday, May 13, at 10:30 p.m. ET. Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the East, Ontario, and West time zones, and on Monday, May 14 at 8:30 p.m. in the Pacific time zone. CTV repeat dates are: East, May 16, 3:00 p.m., Ontario, May 16, 4:30 p.m., Pacific, May 15, 5:00 p.m., and West, May 16, 3:00 p.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Wednesday, May 16, at 4:30 a.m. ET.
Round 3 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held in four weeks at the historic Milwaukee Mile, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.