CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Atlantic Gateway preview

THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP Round 11 September 15 -17, 2000 Gateway International Raceway Madison, Illinois (September 11, 2000) -- Another exciting end of season points race in CART's key ladder development series heads into Gateway...

THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 11
September 15 -17, 2000
Gateway International Raceway
Madison, Illinois

(September 11, 2000) -- Another exciting end of season points race in CART's key ladder development series heads into Gateway International Raceway this Friday. The Toyota Atlantic's penultimate round, part of the Motorola 300 FedEx Championship Series weekend, is a 50-lap sprint race on the 1.27-mile oval in Madison, Illinois, and is scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m. local time on Saturday.

The top-two drivers in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports/Swift 008.a) and rookie Daniel Wheldon (PPI Motorsports/Jayhard Products/Swift 008.a) are separated by a mere 14 points, after Wheldon shaved eight points off of Rice's Championship lead at Laguna Seca Raceway last weekend. Wheldon, who trailed Rice by 22 heading into Monterey, earned his second Atlantic victory of season and also picked up two additional points for winning the pole position and leading the most race laps. Rice, who struggled with a loose car throughout the race, took home 14 championship points for finishing third. Rice still leads the Championship 155-141.

With just two races to go, Wheldon's victory at Laguna forces a showdown between the two on the Gateway oval. The last time the series raced on an oval track was at Milwaukee in June, where Wheldon managed to pick up his third consecutive pole position of the season. However while battling for the race lead with Rice, the two made wheel-to-wheel contact, forcing Rice into early retirement and pushing Wheldon, who finished 13th, out of the event points.

This is not the first time the Atlantic Championship is decided in the  
final few races. In 1998 Lee Bentham had an eight-point lead on Memo    
Gidley heading into the final two races.  Bentham would ultimately win  
the Championship.                                                       

Also in recent history - In 1993 David Empringham narrowly edged out Claude Bourbonnais 195-191 for the Championship and then repeated the performance a year later, with a season ending 162--160 victory over Richie Hearn.

Saturday's contest at Laguna Seca also settled the third place tie in the Championship between Canadian Andrew Bordin (PPI Motorsports/WorldCom/Team Player's/Swift 008.a) and Argentinean rookie Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valve/Swift 008.a). The two headed into Monterey with 103 points each, but while Basso finished the race fourth, Bordin dropped down to 13th after making contact with Lynx Racing's David Rutledge, who he was trying to pass for second place. Rutledge would ultimately finish the race second, marking his third podium finish of the season. Basso now trails Wheldon by 26 points, 141--115, while Bordin trails his PPI Motorsports teammate by 38. Rutledge is sixth in the points with 76.

Rocky Moran Jr. (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Corp./Swift 008.a) continued to demonstrate strong potential, recording his eighth top six finish of the season at Laguna. Moran, who finished fifth, remains in fifth place in the Championship and is still the only Atlantic driver this season to complete all race laps.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

Buddy Rice (DSTP Motorsports) 1st in points "St. Louis should be another challenging weekend, especially since we haven't raced on an oval in several months. With very distinct corners, it can be a tricky place to set up for. It's also a high speed oval for Atlantic cars, which seems to suit my style. After losing a bit of ground in Laguna, we're hoping that a win will put us in a solid position to take the Championship in Houston."

Daniel Wheldon (PPI Motorsports/Jayhard Products) 2nd in points "I plan on doing exactly the same thing that I did in Laguna. I have to go out and give it absolutely everything I've got. The PPI team has given me great cars to work with and I'm positive that that will be the case again this weekend. I'm very, very happy with the win in Laguna but now I am totally focused on Gateway. I'm looking forward to racing again."

<pre> TOP TEN

Pos.    Driver                          Pts
1        Buddy Rice                     155
2        Daniel Wheldon (R)             141
3        Martin Basso (R)               115
4        Andrew Bordin                  103
5        Rocky Moran Jr.                 93
6        David Rutledge                  76
7        Hoover Orsi (R)                 63
8        Alex Gurney                     57
9        William Langhorne               51
10      Mike Conte                       40

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday, September 15:

Practice 8:45 a.m. -- 9:15 a.m Practice 1:15 p.m. -- 1:45 p.m. Qualifying 5:05 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 16:

Warm-up 8:00 a.m. -- 8:15 a.m RACE 3:15 p.m. (50 laps)

LAST YEAR AT GATEWAY:

1999 -- Anthony Lazzaro dominated his second straight race but it was the race-long fight for second place that kept fans on their feet. Eventually David Rutledge drafted past Alex Tagliani, then Sam Hornish Jr. to score his best Atlantic finish of the season. Tagliani would finish third.

TRACK RECORDS

Qualifying Record Anthony Lazzaro 30.321 s 150.786 mph 05/28/1999

Race Record (avg. speed) Anthony Lazzaro 32 min, 53.296 s 115.846 mph 05/29/1999

Race Fastest Lap Lazzaro/David Rutledge 30.320 s 150.792 mph 05/29/1999

Track Type: 1.270-mile oval

Past Winners

1998:   Memo Gidley (USA), Ralt RT-41-Toyota (Y)        
1999:   Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y)   

Past Polesitters

1998:   Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y) #
1999:   Anthony Lazzaro (USA), Swift 008.a-Toyota (Y) 

# Qualifying rained out. Grid set by practice times. Credited as a pole, no point.

TELEVISION COVERAGE

ESPN2 Sun., September 24, 6:30 p Repeat Thurs, September 28, 5:00 a .m.

ESPN Int'l Sun., September 24, 6:30 p.m.

RDS Sat., October 7, 10:30 a.m.

CTV Mon., September 25, 7:00 p.m. Ontario, East, West & Pacific Regions

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Gurney , Memo Gidley , Alex Tagliani , Richie Hearn , Martin Basso , Hoover Orsi , David Rutledge , Rocky Moran Jr. , Anthony Lazzaro , David Empringham , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Michael Shank , Sam Hornish Jr. , Lee Bentham
Teams Michael Shank Racing