Vancouver Preview

THE RACE: Round 11 of the 13-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, held on the 1.82-mile/2.9 kilometer temporary road course at Vancouver, as the Saturday feature race to Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. The Atlantic race will be the final leg...

THE RACE: Round 11 of the 13-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, held on the 1.82-mile/2.9 kilometer temporary road course at Vancouver, as the Saturday feature race to Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. The Atlantic race will be the final leg of the four-race "Player's Challenge" for Canadian-based events.

THE SERIES: The CART-sanctioned $1.35 million KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship is the richest open-wheel development series in North America, noted for its long history of graduating its stars directly into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART stars Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.

ATLANTIC SCHEDULE:

Friday, Sept. 4: Practice 1:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Qualifying 4:45 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5: Qualifying 11:15 a.m.- 11:45 a.m. RACE 2:30 p.m. 38 laps, 69.16 miles

DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP: Heading into the 11th of 13 Atlantic races, Player's-Forsythe driver Lee Bentham, of Richmond Hill, Ont., holds a 121-114 points lead over second-place Memo Gidley of Lynx Racing in the driver's championship. Bentham's teammate, Alex Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., is third with 101 points, holding off four drivers who are within ear-shot of Tagliani. Andrew Bordin is fourth at 98, Anthony Lazzaro is fifth at 92, Matt Sielsky is sixth at 87 and Buddy Rice is seventh at 86.

PLAYER'S CHALLENGE: Vancouver is the final round of the Player's Challenge for the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. A total prize fund of $70,000 (U.S.) has been set aside for the 1998 Player's Challenge. The prize fund consists of $60,000, which will be distributed among the top-15 points leaders following races at Montreal, Toronto, Trois-Rivieres, and Vancouver, and includes a $10,000 bonus to the winner of the Player's Challenge at season's end. An additional $10,000 has been set aside for the three highest-finishing Canadian drivers competing in the Canadian Atlantic races.

The Player's-Forsythe tandem of Tagliani and Bentham have dominated the first three rounds of the Player's Challenge, with Bentham winning at Montreal and Tagliani winning at Toronto and Trois-Rivieres. Consequently, Tagliani leads Bentham by a 60-52 points margin heading into the final Player's Challenge event. Kenny Wilden is third with 33 points, one point ahead Matt Sielsky. Andrew Bordin is fifth in the Player's Challenge with 28 points. With just one race left in this "championship within a championship," only Tagliani and Bentham have a chance to take the Player's Challenge title.

1998 RACE WINNERS: Rnd 1, Long Beach - Memo Gidley Rnd 2, Nazareth - Buddy Rice Rnd 3, Gateway - Memo Gidley Rnd 4, Milwaukee - Memo Gidley Rnd 5, Montreal - Lee Bentham Rnd 6, Cleveland - Kenny Wilden Rnd 7, Toronto - Alex Tagliani Rnd 8, Trois-Rivieres - Alex Tagliani Rnd 9, Mid-Ohio - Lee Bentham Rnd 10, Road America - Anthony Lazzaro

KOOL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: The battle for the KOOL Rookie of the Year has become a three-way fight between Bordin (98 pts.), Sielsky (87) and Rice (86). Bordin's early success and Rice's victory at Nazareth made them the frontrunners most of the season, but Sielsky's consistently strong finishes has added him to the fray.

HISTORY AT VANCOUVER: The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship has raced at Vancouver eight times, dating back to 1990. Previous race winners at Vancouver were: Claude Bourbonnais (1990), Stephane Proulx (1991), Patrick Carpentier (1992), Claude Bourbonnais (1993), David Empringham (1994), David Empringham (1995), Patrick Carpentier (1996), and Memo Gidley (1997).

LAST YEAR AT VANCOUVER: Lynx Racing driver Memo Gidley wrapped up his 1997 Player's Challenge title with his second victory of the season, leading from the pole position.

TELEVISION BROADCASTS: ESPN2 will televise Saturday's Round 11 at the Molson Indy Vancouver on Sunday, Sept. 6, at 1 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on Monday, Sept. 7, at 4 a.m., on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 3 a.m., and on Monday, Nov. 30, at 4 a.m. ESPN International will telecast the race on Sunday, Sept. 6, at 1 p.m. CTV will air it in Canada on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m., while French Canadian network RDS will broadcast the race on Friday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Michael Andretti , Memo Gidley , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Richie Hearn , Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Danny Sullivan , David Empringham , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Claude Bourbonnais , Lee Bentham