Portland: Round five preview

Dorricott Racing seeks fifth straight win at Portland; field looks to slow down Allmendinger's runaway train at G.I. Joe's 200. INDIANAPOLIS (June 18, 2003) - With two dominating wins and a third place finish over the past three races, RuSPORT...

Dorricott Racing seeks fifth straight win at Portland; field looks to slow down Allmendinger's runaway train at G.I. Joe's 200.

INDIANAPOLIS (June 18, 2003) - With two dominating wins and a third place finish over the past three races, RuSPORT rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) currently has a stranglehold on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship as the series heads to Portland International Raceway for Saturday's G.I. Joe's 200 (SPEED Channel, 1:00 p.m. ET, June 23).

However, if there is one team that has the ability to slow down Allmendinger's runaway locomotive in the series' visit to the Rose City, it's Dorricott Racing. The team is coming into this weekend still looking for its first win of the 2003 season, but the team's record over the past four years at the facility makes the two Dorricott drivers, Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) and Kyle Krisiloff (#31 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) the favorites to take the checkered flag first.

In each of the past four years, Dorricott Racing has emerged victorious in Portland. The run began in the 1999 Dayton Indy Lights Championship event, where Austrian Philipp Peter claimed the victory ahead of teammate Oriol Servia, who would go on to win the '99 Indy Lights title. In 2000, it was Australian Jason Bright's turn to shine for Dorricott, as he picked up the victory ahead of teammate Townsend Bell in the Indy Lights event. Ireland's Damien Faulkner took the checkered flag first for Dorricott at PIR, while Bell started on the pole position in the final Indy Lights event at the venue.

The team managed to carry its success to Toyota Atlantic competition in 2002, as Dorricott driver Diaz qualified on the pole and led every lap en route to his first career win in Toyota Atlantic competition. What's interesting to note is that the same driver has not won the race the following year, so it stands to reason that Krisiloff might be in the catbird seat this weekend. Both drivers are confident coming into the weekend, as both were extremely quick in testing earlier this spring at the 1.969-mile permanent road course.

While Dorricott has been the team to beat at Portland over the past four years, they are going to have a fight on their hands this weekend as they try for "one for the thumb." After sweeping all 23 championship points that were available last weekend in the Grand Prix of Monterey and pulling away from the field on virtually every lap in the race, Allmendinger comes into the weekend at least on equal ground with the Dorricott teammates as favorites to take the victory.

The rookie has been among the fastest in every race thus far in 2003, and he has yet to qualify outside of the top three starting positions, including two poles. Aside from a mistake on the opening lap in Monterrey, Allmendinger has not put a wheel wrong in the past three races, which has given him a solid, 11 point lead in the championship standings over Canadian Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings).

Macri holds the distinction of being the only driver to have finished inside the top four positions in each of the first four races this season, a run that includes three podium finishes. While he has not yet claimed his maiden CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race victory, his chances of getting that elusive first win this weekend would seem to be pretty good, based on the fact that he qualified third and finished second in his inaugural appearance at PIR last year. If he is able to find the speed in qualifying, he may be tough to beat this weekend.

Another driver riding a hot streak is Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record), as the second-year driver has two straight podium finishes coming into the weekend, including his first career Toyota Atlantic race victory on The Milwaukee Mile. Dalziel has only finished outside the top four in one of the past six races dating to a third place run in the penultimate round of 2002 at Montreal, so he also remains a threat to take the victory this weekend.

While Macri is the only driver to finish in the top four in all of the races so far this season, he is joined by RuSPORT driver Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT) as the only two drivers to have finished inside the top five in all four races in 2003. Justus is another driver looking for his first career Toyota Atlantic win, and with the impressive resources available to him with RuSPORT, he could win at any time.

California's Alex Figge (#69 Wine Country Motorsports/Patrick Racing/Trench Shoring) shared the front row with Allmendinger last weekend in Monterey, and could also be a factor on another permanent road course this weekend. Last weekend's performance equaled Figge's career best in Toyota Atlantic competition, as he matched his career best starting position and tied his career-best finish with a fifth place run.

While none of the drivers hail from Oregon, the Pacific Northwest will be represented in the field by Burnaby, B.C. native Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing), who returns to race at PIR after missing last weekend's Grand Prix of Monterey with an illness. Valiante will once again be paired with Bryan Sellers (#17 Lynx Racing/3Dimensional Services/Drive4USA), who will be making his second career start in Toyota Atlantic this weekend.

As is the case at every stop on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship tour, Team Rahal rookie Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) is sure to get a lot of attention this weekend at Portland. In fact, Patrick will be the featured guest on Friday evening's nationally-televised "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" program on SPEED Channel, airing live at 11:00 p.m. ET.

DSTP Motorsports driver Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports/BG Products) found the speed he was missing in Rounds 2 and 3 last weekend in Monterey, but Lady Luck again turned her back on him in the race, as he crashed on the first lap of the race. However, the team persevered and got the #27 machine back into the action, allowing Hand to finish the race. With his fair share of "character building" weekends now behind him, Hand is ready to challenge for a race win on Saturday afternoon in Portland.

Venezuela's Alex Garcia (#9 Dixien/Omnisource/LA Fitness/Diestra) and Canadian Eric Jensen (#2 Westin Hotels) come into the weekend in Portland fresh from career-best finishes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and are looking for more of the same this weekend. Jensen welcomes his French Canadian teammate Philip Fayer (#8 PaySystems) back to Toyota Atlantic competition for the first time since Long Beach, and Quebec will also be represented in the field by P-1 Racing's Toyota Atlantic veteran Stephan C. Roy (#16 PlayStation 2/MGD/Mexxsport/Momo).

All of the cars in Saturday's field will be spec Swift 014.a chassis powered by 240 horsepower Toyota 4A-GE engines capable of speeds in excess of 165 miles per hour. Likewise, all of the cars will ride on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks.

The Toyota Atlantic action gets underway from PIR this weekend beginning at 8:45 a.m. PT on the morning of Friday, June 20 for a 30-minute practice session. Friday's Toyota Atlantic schedule concludes with a 40-minute qualifying session beginning at 12:50 p.m. PT. Saturday's schedule calls for a final, 40-minute qualifying session beginning at 9:05 a.m., and will be followed by Round 5 of the 12-race 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, the G.I. Joe's 200, which takes the green flag at 4:00 p.m. PT. The scheduled distance for the race is 35 laps (68.915 miles), but is subject to a 50-minute time limit.

SPEED Channel will once again offer tape delayed television coverage of the G.I. Joe's 200 Toyota Atlantic event, with the initial airing scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Monday, June 23. The race will be aired a second time beginning at 12:00 Noon ET on Saturday, June 28.

-cart/atlantic-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Stephan C. Roy , Jonathan Macri , Townsend Bell , Kyle Krisiloff , Luis Diaz , Damien Faulkner , A.J. Allmendinger , Alex Garcia , Alex Figge , Eric Jensen , Aaron Justus , Jason Bright , Philip Fayer , Philipp Peter , Danica Patrick