Elkhart Lake, Wis., (August 19, 2001) -- For the first time since 1996 when Patrick Carpentier went on a tear of eight wins in a row driving for Lynx Racing, The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has a three-peat winner. Hoover Orsi (Hylton ...
Elkhart Lake, Wis., (August 19, 2001) -- For the first time since 1996 when Patrick Carpentier went on a tear of eight wins in a row driving for Lynx Racing, The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has a three-peat winner. Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) led every turn of the 17-lap event at Road America on his way to a 1.320-second victory, putting a stranglehold on the 2001 Championship.
"My car has been amazing the last two races, winning the pole and leading every lap," said Brazil's Hoover Orsi. "I have to say thanks to the team, who has given me a great car every race and that makes my job easier. From Kyle (Brannon, Engineer) to David (Empringham, Coach), everybody is a top guy. We were really quick and had a little bit left in the car so I was pushing really hard. Early in the race, I thought Joey (Hand) was going to catch me and challenge for the win, but he had a problem and that made my life easier."
With the win, Orsi took a 47-point lead in the 2001Championship over David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift), who struggled with a loose racecar throughout the afternoon's race. On the 10th lap of the race, Rutledge ran off course into the turn one gravel trap, damaging the front wing of the Lynx Racing Swift. Rutledge was black flagged by CTAC officials the following lap to make repairs, dropping him to a 13th place finish.
"We made some changes to the car during the warm-up that we really didn't have a chance to test fully, and when it came to the race, the car was very loose in the high-speed corners," said a disappointed Rutledge. "I was able to run with the lead pack, but it was very difficult and it finally caught up with me in turn one. I went off and went for quite a ride, damaging the front wing so much that I had to come in and have it replaced. The team did a great job to get me back out in as short a time as possible. The championship is still in reach, but it's going to take a huge effort in the last three races and some luck -- good for me and bad for Orsi. If there's a team that can pull this out for me, it's Lynx."
Orsi earned the bonus points for leading the most laps and winning the $1000 "Toyota Pole Award". The win was the fifth of the season for Orsi with other victories coming at Milwaukee, Cleveland, Chicago, and Trois-Rivieres.
Two rookies finished on podium for the first time this season. Canadian, Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) had his best career Atlantic showing finishing runner-up to Orsi. Macri also earned his first ever $1000 WorldCom "Fast Pace" award with his record setting of 2:02.688 seconds (118.779 mph), breaking Buddy Rice's 1999 mark of 2:03.614 seconds (117.890 mph). The second place showing allowed Macri to pull within one point of Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) who finished third, completing the duel rookie podium. It was Hand's third podium of the season, finishing third at Long Beach and second in Cleveland. Hand moved to fourth in overall points with a total of 70, passing Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) who ran off course into the turn 9 tire wall on the eleventh lap of the race. Ave is tied with Macri for fifth in the Championship chase at 69 points.
"I really felt comfortable in the car this weekend," said Macri. "I was pushing really hard to catch Hoover and then with a few laps left, I realized I wasn't going to catch him so I backed off and just tried to hold my position rather than drive too hard and have an incident losing positions."
Despite running into mechanical problems, Hand was happy with another podium. "We really had a fast race car, said Hand. "We should have won the race, but we lost fourth gear. It wasn't anything mechanical, but more of the driver being hard on the gearbox. That kind of stuff happens and that has kept us from doing a little better this year. That just means there is a win out there waiting for us and I think we'll have a good race car from here on out."
T.J. Bell (Cobb Racing Swift) finished fourth today bringing his season top-5 total to three with other showings coming at Milwaukee and Cleveland. Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) passed Rocky Moran Jr. (Cobb Racing Swift) on the final lap to complete the top-5. With the fifth place finish, Basso moved to within 22 points of Rutledge in Championship points.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship heads back for its final race in Canada for the Molson Indy Vancouver, in two weeks. After a month break, the Championship finishes up in early October with back to back races in Houston and Laguna Seca.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 9 race from Road America on Sunday, August 26, at 10:00 a.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, August 21, at 7:00 p.m. in the East, Ontario and Pacific time zones, 4:00 p.m. in the West Zone. CTV repeat dates are: ONTARIO, Monday, August 27, 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 28, 1:00 p.m., WEST, Tuesday, August 21, 7:00 p.m. There are no repeat dates for the EAST and PACIFIC time zones. ESPN2 will replay the race on Saturday, September 1, at 4:30 a.m. ET.