INDIANAPOLIS (September 2, 2002) - American Jon Fogarty of Dorricott Racing scored his second CART Toyota Atlantic race win of the season at the inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver and in doing so, captured the 2002 Championship over Canadian ...
INDIANAPOLIS (September 2, 2002) - American Jon Fogarty of Dorricott Racing scored his second CART Toyota Atlantic race win of the season at the inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver and in doing so, captured the 2002 Championship over Canadian Michael Valiante of Lynx Racing by only 11 championship points. Fogarty, starting fourth, moved up early to second place and finally took the lead from Scotland's Ryan Dalziel on Lap 13 in a braking maneuver that saw both drivers lock up the wheels in the wide open Turn 5 area. From there, Fogarty would lead the rest of the way, surviving a late race charge by Hylton Motorsports' Dalziel, to win by 0.652-seconds.
Fogarty's Dorricott Racing teammate Alex Gurney battled throughout the race to earn the final podium position in third place. Scuadra Fortia's Waldemar Coronas scored his career best Atlantic finish in fourth place while P-1 Racing's Jonathan Macri rounded out the top five. The final Dorricott Racing car of Luis Diaz came home in sixth place. Aaron Justus earned a top ten finish (seventh place) in only his second race with PDR Racing. Sepp Koster of Michael Shank Racing ended his rookie season with an eighth place. Sigma Autosport's Rocky Moran Jr. followed up his Montreal win with a ninth place while Condor Motorsports' Frank Dancs finished in tenth place.
Valiante entered the weekend with a six point lead over Fogarty, but could never get higher than fourth place on the track. With Fogarty winning and capturing the one point for most laps led, Valiante needed to score a second place finish to secure the season championship. While battling Gurney for third place on Lap 33, Valiante drove deep into the aforementioned Turn 5, wiggled the car and finally lost control on the concrete patch at the apex of the corner. By the time he restarted the engine and resumed, he had fallen all the way to 13th place. He would finish in 12th place.
"It's hard putting a meaning to this day and race into words at the moment," commented Fogarty, winner at the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico as well. "It meant so much to win it for Dorricott Racing. I owe so much to the entire team. They worked hard all year, especially when you consider that we switched from Indy Lights and had to learn a new car."
"We've had some time tough times during the year and when we did, Michael always seemed to be there ready to capitalize on them," continued Valiante, who last led the championship following the Chicago race in late June. "I feel that now that it is said and done, this Championship is deserved."
Fogarty becomes the first rookie to win the Atlantic championship since Alex Barron did so in 1997. Consistency seemed to be the key to his championship run, as Fogarty placed in the top five in ten of the twelve races in addition to his two bookend wins at the season opener and finale.
The win marked the second consecutive CART Driver Development Ladder System championship for Dorricott Racing. With Townsend Bell at the wheel, the team captured the final Indy Lights Championship in 2001 before making the move to Atlantics this year. It also holds extra special meaning for the team due to the passing of team owner and founder Bob Dorricott Sr. in April of this year.
Behind the Fogarty-Valiante battle, Gurney secured third place in the final championship standings. Diaz, a winner at Portland and Road America, finished in fourth place. Moran Jr., winner at the penultimate round of Montreal, rounded out the top five in championship standings.
Showing the strength of the CART Driver Development system, four of the top five drivers in the final point standings - champion Fogarty, runner-up Valiante, Gurney and Moran Jr. - are graduates of the Barber Dodge Pro Series.