Chardon, Ohio (July 25, 2000) - Following a solid second place finish after a race-long battle with Canada's Andrew Bordin just last week in Toronto, American Buddy Rice and the DSTP Atlantic team are prepared to take the next step on the podium...
Chardon, Ohio (July 25, 2000) - Following a solid second place finish after a race-long battle with Canada's Andrew Bordin just last week in Toronto, American Buddy Rice and the DSTP Atlantic team are prepared to take the next step on the podium this weekend in Trois Rivieres, for the 8th round of the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship series. The race through the streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, also marks the final Canadian race in this year's Atlantic series.
DSTP has captured three victories out of seven races thus far, in only its first season of CART Toyota Atlantic competition. Rice currently leads the drivers' championship standings, by virtue of three wins, two second-place finishes, one pole position and three fastest race laps. He also has led the most laps in each of five of this year's seven races, for a total of 175 laps led out of 237 completed, and is the only repeat Atlantic winner this season.
"Trois Rivieres is a huge race for us," said Rice, who has finished second or higher in every race he has completed this year. "Atlantics are the headline event and the support from the fans in Quebec is just incredible. The track itself is very tricky to set-up for because it has just about every possible element to it. There's a combination of high speed straights, sweepers, short chutes and tight hairpins, so you need to have everything working right to put down a fast lap. It's a great track to race on and certainly one of my favorite towns to come to each year."
"We're really hoping to keep our record of top two finishes alive this weekend," said Dede Rogers, team owner. "We had a great race last week in Toronto with Andrew, but now it's our turn to take the top podium spot. Trois Rivieres always provides an exciting Atlantic race and I'm sure that this year will be no exception. We're definitely gunning for a win and looking to put some distance between us in the championship."
Rice, 24, currently leads the 2000 Atlantic championship by seven points over Bordin (98-91). Last year at Trois Rivieres, Rice qualified fourth and led seven laps until he encountered some debris on the track at the exit of turn eight and slid into the tire barrier. In 1998, he qualified seventh and retired early due to gearbox failure.
Instrumental to DSTP's success this season is Jim Griffith, who serves as the team's vice president of operations as well as Rice's engineer. Previously, Griffith served as Lynx Racing's engineer for the past five seasons. His Atlantic record includes two championship titles (1996 and 1997, with Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron), two Engineer-of-the-Year awards (1997 and 1999, Barron and Rice), and one Mechanic-of-the-Year award (1996, Carpentier).
Rice rejoined DSTP this year after driving for the team in the 1997 U.S. F2000 National Championship. He moved on to Lynx Racing's Atlantic team for 1998 and 1999 finishing seventh and fifth, respectively, in the series championships. His Atlantic record includes four wins (Nazareth (1998), Homestead (2000), Long Beach (2000), Cleveland (2000)), 19 top fives, 13 podiums, four poles and 7 fastest race laps.
Rice's racing career began in karts at age eleven, where he won multiple championships including two IKF Grand National and seven regional titles. He made his professional racing debut in 1996's US F2000 National Championship series with the help of friend and Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount. Lynx Racing then supported him at DSTP's F2000 team in 1997, where he responded by taking one win, two poles and five podiums en route to seventh overall in the series championship, before moving up to Lynx's Atlantic seat. Today, his sights are firmly set on a career in the CART FedEx Championship, where he hopes to compete against the likes of Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier, as well as his former Atlantic competitor Alex Tagliani.
DSTP was formed by Rogers in 1994 and first fielded a team in the Dodge Shelby Pro Series. The team's initial season resulted in several podium finishes and pole positions leading up to second in the rookie championship. The following year, DSTP made the jump to the US F2000 National Championship pro series as well as selected Hooter's Cup Formula 2000 events with driver Memo Gidley. Although leading the Hooter's Cup series, DSTP elected to focus on the US F2000 National Championship, where Gidley went on to capture three wins and three poles on his way to second in the 1995 F2000 series championship, as well as the Rookie-of-the-Year, Oval Crown Champion and Oval Rookie-of-the-Year titles. Gidley recently campaigned a portion of this year's CART FedEx Championship with the Player's/Forsythe team and Della Penna Motorsports, after successfully filling in at the Walker Racing and Payton-Coyne Champ Car teams last year. Another former DSTP F2000 driver, Alex Barron (DSTP - 1996), captured the 1997 Atlantic title in his rookie season with Lynx Racing, then rose to the CART Champ Car ranks, driving in 1998 with Dan Gurney's All American Racers and in selected events last year for Marlboro Team Penske.
This weekend's CART Toyota Atlantic activities begin with practice and qualifying on Friday, July 28, followed by another practice and qualifying session on Saturday, July 29. The 45-lap Atlantic race is scheduled to begin at 1:45 pm (EDT) on Sunday, July 30, and will be televised via espn2 on Saturday, August 12, at 1:00 pm (EDT). kk