Allmendinger scores "Hat Trick" in Canada by winning third consecutive race in Grand Prix De Trois-Rivieres; extends championship lead to 34 Points TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec (August 3, 2003) - CART Toyota Atlantic Championship points leader A.J.
Allmendinger scores "Hat Trick" in Canada by winning third consecutive race in Grand Prix De Trois-Rivieres; extends championship lead to 34 Points
TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec (August 3, 2003) - CART Toyota Atlantic Championship points leader A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) moved another step closer in his quest for the series crown by going flag-to-flag en route to a 0.465-second victory over his next closest challenger in the points race, Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
It was Allmendinger's third consecutive victory and his fifth of the season, making the rookie the first driver since Hoover Orsi in 2001 to win three straight races, and he was also the first driver to win five races in a season since Orsi won five on the way to taking the '01 series title. He also became the first rookie to win five races in a season since Alex Barron won five on his way to winning the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship crown in 1997.
After taking his third consecutive $1,000 Toyota Pole Award in qualifying, Allmendinger kept the field at bay going into Turn 1 on the opening lap, and motored off to a comfortable margin in the middle stages of the event. However, on Lap 35, Allmendinger got caught up behind the lapped car of Kyle Krisiloff (#7 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One), which allowed Dalziel to close the gap to within half a second of Allmendinger.
Once Allmendinger dispatched Krisiloff, he managed to open up another gap of over a second, but made a slight mistake on Lap 42 that allowed Dalziel to again close up dramatically. Nevertheless, Dalziel was not able to get close enough to make a pass, and Allmendinger sped off to the victory. It was his series leading sixth podium finish in eight races thus far this season.
After snapping a streak of consecutive podium finishes at four races with a fifth place run in the previous event at Toronto, Dalziel returned to the podium today with a second place run. It was his fifth podium finish of the season, and the eighth podium of his career, enabling him to maintain his position of second in the championship standings. It was also Dalziel's sixth straight top-five finish and his ninth top-five in 10 races dating to a third place run at Montreal in 2002.
Finishing third for the third time in 2003 was outside polesitter Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing). The Canadian attempted to give Allmendinger a run heading into the first turn of the race, but was forced wide in the turn and lost two positions, and dropped all the way to fifth place on Lap 3 when he was passed by Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT). Despite the early setback, Valiante battled his way back to third and picked up his third podium result of the season. It was also his second-straight podium result at Trois-Rivieres as he won the 2002 event at the Canadian street circuit. The result enabled him to move from fifth to fourth in the point standings, despite the fact that he missed the Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in June due to an illness.
Third-year driver Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports) won a hotly-contested battle for fourth place, as positions four through seven ran nose-to-tail for much of the event while the front three runners ran away. After pressuring her for several laps, Hand finally fought his way past Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) on Lap 29, and took his best result since finishing second in Round 5 at Portland International Raceway in June.
Patrick capped a solid weekend by taking a fifth place result for her third top-five finish of the season. The series' lone woman in the field qualified third in the first qualifying session on Friday and started fourth on the grid, which was her career-best starting spot in Toyota Atlantic competition. She moved into third place in the first turn of the race, but dropped to fourth on Lap 11 and ended up fifth after Hand's Lap 29 pass. The move proved to make a difference in the point standings, as she now trails Hand-who stands sixth in the championship-by just a single point with eight of 12 races now in the books.
Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) earned his best result in four races with a sixth place performance, followed by Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings), who lost precious ground in the championship battle with a seventh place performance. Local drivers Stephan C. Roy (#16 PlayStation 2/MGD/Mexxsport/Castrol/Momo/Zellers) and Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (#17 Autovalue/Chey Rock/Détente/Cascades/SFP/MCI/Le Temple) finished eighth and ninth, respectively, and Philip Fayer (#8 PaySystems) picked up his second consecutive top-10 result (he finished ninth in Cleveland and did not compete in Toronto) with a 10th place result.
After running as high as third in the race, Justus slid backward into the Turn 6 tire barrier, which removed him from contention for a podium finish. He got back into the fight several laps down and ended up 14th, which dropped him from fourth to fifth in the championship standings. It was just the second time this season that Justus failed to finish inside the top five.
The 45-lap distance was completed in 45:14.076 at an average speed of 90.787 miles per hour, breaking the previous race record of 46:28.841 (88.353 mph) established by Orsi in 2001.
Next up for the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is Round 9 of the 12-race series, the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio at Lexington, Ohio's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. That race will also be carried on SPEED Channel on a one-hour tape delay beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 10.
Quotes from the day's top-three finishers follow below:
A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#4 RuSPORT):
"The race was extremely tough. Really, I got going, and Ryan (Dalziel) was there. I was pushing as hard as I could every lap. Early on, I was stretching out a little bit. My car was really good about the first half of the race. Then, unfortunately, I got held up by lapped traffic and that allowed Ryan right back on me. From there, every lap I was basically on the edge, trying to run as fast as I could. With about five to seven laps left, my car really started to go away, really got loose, and it was a struggle to try to hang onto it. I knew on this course, really the only big passing places were into Turn 4 and into Turn 5, so if I could get the exit shots onto the straightaways, I would be okay and the car was still good enough to get that onto the straightaways. I made one mistake with about two laps to go that allowed Ryan to really get a run on me. Other than that, the car was great all weekend. I really look forward to continuing at Mid-Ohio. This is just another huge race to win. This is one of the races that I picked on the calendar that I wanted to win as bad as I could. It worked out in my favor."
RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record):
"I got an absolutely awesome start. I think it A.J. (Allmendinger) hadn't been on the inside, I think I definitely could have taken the lead. I got into second when Michael (Valiante) went a little bit wide. Early in the race, we had a little bit of a handling issue, but I think after about 10 laps our car came in. Unfortunately, by that point, A.J. was just too far away. I think towards the mid to the end of the race, we were consistently between a tenth and two tenths of a lap quicker. I think both of us were pushing extremely to the limit, and it was really depending on who was going to make a mistake. The last, kind of, eight to 10 laps of the race were pretty awesome. Sierra Sierra gave me a absolutely unbelievable car. We worked so hard this weekend and had some problems in the practice sessions and I think we proved all weekend that every time we were on track, we got closer to the pace. I'm pretty sure that we had, at least, closest to the fastest lap in the race. I can't say enough about them. I think they gave me an excellent car to work with. Second's a good result for points."
MICHAEL VALIANTE (#19 Lynx Racing):
"I had a pretty good start. A.J. and I went side-by-side into Turn 1. I think he just went too quick into it and pushed me a little bit wide. I thought he was going to hit me. There were just so many marbles out there that I was just basically trying to stay out of the wall, and I couldn't go back to power. That allowed, I guess (Ryan) Dalziel and Danica (Patrick) by me, and by then it took a few laps for the car to come in. Also my tires were so dirty from, I guess, the Trans-Am rubber that (Aaron) Justus was able to get by. Probably by the 10th lap, finally, my car came in. It was really good towards the end of the race, but I was just way too far behind."
Championship standings: 1. Allmendinger, 148; 2. Dalziel, 114; 3. Macri, 103; 4. Valiante, 90; 5. Justus, 83; 6. Hand, 68; 7. Patrick, 67; 8. Figge, 61; 9. Diaz, 59; 10. Krisiloff, 50.