INDIANAPOLIS (July 8, 2002) - Michael Valiante and AJ Allmendinger - two of the brightest stars in the CART Driver Development Ladder System - captured victories at Toronto Exhibition Place this past weekend in the Toyota Atlantic Championship and...
INDIANAPOLIS (July 8, 2002) - Michael Valiante and AJ Allmendinger - two of the brightest stars in the CART Driver Development Ladder System - captured victories at Toronto Exhibition Place this past weekend in the Toyota Atlantic Championship and Barber Dodge Pro Series, respectively.
In capturing his second CART Toyota Atlantic victory of the season, Lynx Racing's Valiante wrestled the season point lead away from Dorricott Racing's Jon Fogarty, who retired from the race with contact on Lap 6. Valiante, of Burnaby, British Columbia, took the checkered flag over fellow Canadian Jonathan Macri by 0.909-seconds to the absolute delight of the home country crowd. American Rocky Moran Jr. of Sigma Autosport was the final podium finisher, 1.598 seconds behind Valiante. Chicago race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Gurney rounded out the top five. A strong field of 26 cars took the green flag for the top series in the CART Ladder System.
"We didn't qualify well, but we got the setup right for the race and I was able to move up quite quickly," said Valiante, the at-large selection for the CART Mentor Program at Vancouver. "That's really the mark of a championship-caliber team - they never give up, they keep working until they win, and that's what Lynx is all about. It was good luck for me that my closest competitor didn't score any points today, but I was already ahead of him by the time he had his problem, so I'd say the entire team earned this one."
Allmendinger's strong run for the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship continued Sunday as he earned his fourth victory in five races and extended his championship lead to 45 points. Mexico's Memo Rojas continued his strong season by finishing in second place while Marc Breuers finished in third place to complete the podium. Davy Cook and hometown hero Dan Di Leo thrilled the Exhibition Place crowd with their race long battle for the fourth position. Cook would take the position in the end, relegating Di Leo to a still-strong fifth place. Pole sitter Rafael Sperafico held the lead early and battled Allmendinger throughout the race before he falling back to 11th place after having to use the escape route in Turn 3.
"It was such a fantastic race," said Allmendinger. "I want to thank Rafael for racing me clean. It was shame that he went off in Turn 3 so close to the end of the race and after having such a strong car all day. We had a great battle and I really earned this victory today. This was another terrific race and I can't wait to go to Cleveland next."