After the first lap incident that eliminated him from last week's Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, Joey Hand knows that his back is up against the wall to remain in contention for the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Issues that were...
After the first lap incident that eliminated him from last week's Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, Joey Hand knows that his back is up against the wall to remain in contention for the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Issues that were out of his control cost him good finishes in the opening three races of the season, but Hand knows last week's incident was on his shoulders and is determined to make up for it this weekend in Portland.
"I think we are all pretty excited about getting to Portland and putting last week behind us," said Hand, who still has lingering effects from a flu bug that hit him while in Monterey. "We are pretty anxious and this is a long week of getting the car ready. We just want to go racing again, especially me. I want to redeem myself as soon as I can. I don't want to be the guy who crashed for too much longer."
A accident like the one Hand was involved in at Laguna Seca can get any driver down, but the good news is that there is very little time to dwell on it with races on back to back weekends. More good news for Hand and DSTP is that they are familiar with the 1.969-mile track and tested well at the Portland International Raceway this past spring.
"We are pretty confident that the car will be quick here again because we had a good test here earlier in the year," said Hand. "DSTP has been good at this place in the past and Kent (Stacy), my engineer, knows this track pretty well. I won the Star Mazda race here in 1999 along with the Championship so we are hoping we can get this season back on track here."
Although DSTP Motorsports competed here last year at the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's first visit to Portland since 1984, Hand did not race with team due to injuries he sustained in a testing accident the month before. Buddy Rice, who won the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship with DSTP in 2000, filled in for Hand posting an eleventh place finish.
Entering Portland, Hand is still tenth in the Championship standings with 24 points and has dropped 43 points behind series leader, A.J. Allmendinger, who won in Long Beach and Laguna Seca. Every member at DSTP Motorsports knows what they are up against for the remainder of the season and will continue to strive to place yellow and purple DSTP colors back on the podium and return Hand to the form that won him the 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Rookie of the Year award.
Like last week at Laguna Seca, it is another short weekend with only one practice session, followed by two qualifying sessions and then the 35-lap race on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. PST. The first practice session begins bright and early on Friday morning at 8:45 a.m. EST. Speed Channel will televise the Round 5 race from Portland on Monday, June 23rd at 1:00 p.m. EST, 4:00 p.m. PST.
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.