Elkhart Lake, WI. (August 20, 2000) -- Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a) passed rookie Dan Wheldon (PPI Motorsports / Jayhard Products/Swift 008.a) on lap 15 and went on to win his fifth CART Toyota Atlantic race of the season under...
Elkhart Lake, WI. (August 20, 2000) -- Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a) passed rookie Dan Wheldon (PPI Motorsports / Jayhard Products/Swift 008.a) on lap 15 and went on to win his fifth CART Toyota Atlantic race of the season under caution at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Rice slipped past Wheldon at turn 11, just seconds before the course went yellow for an incident involving Cemal Yelkin (Meehan Motorsports/ Everclear/ Swift 008.a), who made nose to nose contact with a spinning Bob Perona (Cobb Racing / MediaOne / Swift 008.a) Wheldon finished second while, polesitter Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves/Swift 008.a) was third.
"We're real happy to win this one," said Rice. "Starting from seventh, we knew we were going to have our work cut out for us, but we also knew we had an excellent car. Everything really went according to plan. We wanted to get out front as soon as possible without taking any major gambles. I had an excellent race with Dan and everyone raced real clean. We did what we set out to do today. We need to keep finishing on the top of the podium and keep building on the championship."
David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Swift 008.a) moved into second place on the first race lap, and then passed Basso for the lead on the front straight on lap two. The Vancouver native stayed in front through lap five, when Rice managed to slip past both Basso and Rutledge to take over. Rice maintained the lead for the next four laps, and through the first of three full course caution periods, but relinquished it to Wheldon on Lap 10.
Wheldon then led the race through the second full course caution which came on lap 10, after Rutledge tapped Rocky Moran Jr. (P-1 Racing/ NTN Bearing Corp/ Swift 008.a) from behind going into turn 12. While Rutledge ran off course into the gravel trap, William Langhorne (Active Motorsports/ findthe.com/ Swift 008.a) came around the corner and made contact with the rear of Moran's racecar, ending his day. Moran managed to return to the field and finished sixth.
"My car felt really good," said Wheldon. "I thought I might have it (the win) if the track had not gone yellow. I am pretty sure I would have made it back around Buddy. Luck was not on our side, but that's racing and it was a good race today."
Wheldon raced at the front through lap 15, but was passed by Rice who got a run at the Brit exiting turn 10, and ultimately moving past him at turn 11.
Basso picked up his first Atlantic career $1,000 "Toyota Pole Award" after posting the fastest qualifying times in both provisional and final qualifying.
"I'm really happy to be on the podium because we worked very hard for this race. And we were able to win the pole, my first in the series, so that was good too. I made a good start and tried to run the first laps really fast, but I had some problems with Rutledge cutting me off in braking. Then, in the middle part of the race, the car started to lose a little bit in the corners. Buddy Rice passed me, then Wheldon passed me, but I think we ended up with a good finish. "We're tied in the championship with Andrew Bordin now, so we're looking forward to Laguna Seca."
Buddy Rice earned the $1,000 MCI WorldCom "Fast Pace" award for recording the fastest race lap at 2:04.458.
Buddy Rice now leads this year's championship with 141 points. Dan Wheldon is second with 119. Andrew Bordin and Martin Basso each have 103 points.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday's Round 9 race from Road America on Saturday, August 26, at 4:00 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Monday, August 28, at 7 p.m. in each of the regional time zones.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues with Round 10, Saturday, September 9, at the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey, at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.