TROIS RIVIERES, QC., (July 30, 2000) - Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports / Swift 008.a) continued to extend his CART Toyota Atlantic Championship points lead after claiming his fourth victory of the season Sunday, at the Player's Grand Prix de ...
TROIS RIVIERES, QC., (July 30, 2000) - Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports / Swift 008.a) continued to extend his CART Toyota Atlantic Championship points lead after claiming his fourth victory of the season Sunday, at the Player's Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres. Rookie Daniel Wheldon (PPI Motorsports/Jayhard Products/Swift 008.a) finished second, while All American Racers Alex Gurney, was third.
"This is awesome," said Rice, who now leads Wheldon in the championship by 17 points. "There's so much history with Atlantic at Trois Rivieres and it's great to be a part of it. We really wanted to have a perfect weekend and it doesn't get any better than this."
It was a perfect weekend for the Phoenix, Arizona native. Rice managed to break both the qualifying and fastest race lap record for the event, and padded his championship lead with an additional point after leading the most race laps on the 1.521 mile temporary street course.
Starting from the pole position, Rice dropped to second heading into turn one, after being edged over by PPI Motorsports driver Andrew Bordin (WorldCom/Team Player's/Swift 008.a).
"Andrew had a good start and was able to hold the inside going into the arch," said Rice. "I didn't want to get caught on the outside with Wheldon and Rutledge right behind, so I tucked in behind Andrew. We also lost first gear but it really didn't slow us down much. Our car seemed to be better on the longer runs, so I was able to start reeling in Andrew after several laps. With the exception of Andrew's problem with a lapped car, it was a pretty clean race. The main goal for us was to build on the championship, and we were able to do that this weekend. It's going to be a close race all year."
Bordin remained in front through lap 13, but relinquished the lead to Rice for good, when he was forced to pit after an attempt to lap Cemal Yelkin failed, and the two made contact. Bordin's pit stop for repairs to the nose of his racecar, caused the young Canadian to drop down two laps before rejoining the field. He finished 15th.
"Of course I was disappointed, but from what I understand, he (Yelkin) was having some handling problems with his car. I mean it takes two for every incident and I don't want the kid to feel too bad about it. I was trying to lap him and I didn't want to give up too much time doing it. It's really unfortunate, my car was so great and I was working hard to build up a bigger gap on Buddy. But I'm looking forward to our next race and we are still most definitely in this championship race."
Bordin's teammate, rookie Daniel Wheldon moved in to second place and stayed there for the remainder of the race, earning his fifth podium of the season. "It was another solid result for PPI Motorsports," said a smiling Wheldon. "This, I have to be honest, was a fantastic race. The French Canadians really put on something special and I feel very privileged to be a part of that. It was one the hardest races I have ever had actually. I had to push so hard every lap. Unfortunately, I just did not have enough to compete with Buddy today."
The podium catapults Wheldon back into second place in the championship with 103 points, and further secures his lead in the rookie race.
Alex Gurney earned his first career Atlantic podium by finishing in third, charging past David Rutledge on lap 38 to grab the spot.
"It feels just great to be here on the podium," said Gurney. I had been hoping for a real good result because I have had what I think was a lot of bad luck this year. The race was tough. It was long, hot, and slippery. I had a good fight with Martin Basso for a while but he never got close enough to me to make a pass. I was working on David Rutledge and we were both making little mistakes along the way and I finally got by him in the fast left hander and I basically held my position until the end."
Sunday's race from Trois Rivieres will be broadcast on espn2 on Saturday, August 12, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT), with an encore presentation on Tuesday, August 15, at 5:00 a.m. (EDT).
Round 9 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held in three weeks at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.