off Gurney for big Trois-Rivières win
Valiante enjoys the podium celebration
TROIS-RIVIÈRES, QUEBEC, CANADA - For the ninth straight race at the
prestigious Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières, the person that won
the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship pole continued on to win
the race. Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a) won the
$1000 Toyota "Pole Award" yesterday and cashed it in for this
third victory of the season today.
Although Valiante led all 45 laps around the 1.521-mile
temporary street course in Trois-Rivières, he had to fight off
a hard challenge from Alex Gurney (Dorricott
Racing/Behr/Castrol Swift 014.a), who was looking for his
first win of his career. Earlier this season, Valiante made a
daring Turn 1 pass on Gurney at Long Beach that propelled him
to his first career win. Today, Gurney tried to repay the
favor on lap 36 at the tight left hand Turn 6. After chasing
down Valiante, who had been slowed by lapped traffic, Gurney
tried to outbreak the Canadian on the inside as the pair
approached the turn. Gurney slid into the turn and took the
lead briefly, but Valiante ducked to the inside exiting the
turn and regained it by the time he had reached Turn 7.
Valiante continued on to win the race by .742 seconds.
"First of all I want to say the Comptech motors are much
stronger and they will be even better on faster tracks, said
Valiante. "The key to winning this race was getting through
traffic cleanly. I have to thank my team as always. They never
get mad at me and I have to thank the ladies - Peggy (Haas),
and Jackie (Doty)."
(L), Michael Valiante (R) and Valiante's girlfriend
Nicola, enjoy the victory lap
"I was trying to get Michael
(Valiante) back for the Long Beach pass," laughed Gurney. "I
just got into the turn a little too hot and locked up the
brakes and the car slipped into neutral and I was not able to
get off the turn as fast as I wanted to. It was a long hard
race and we are happy with the result. This team shows its
strength every race because it seems we always have at least
one guy up here every time. I'm just glad it was me this go
Valiante also led a group of eight drivers that were under
David Rutledge's 2001 fastest race lap record of 1:00.917
seconds (89.886 mph). Valiante took the record from his former
Lynx Racing teammate and earned the WorldCom $1000 "Fast Pace"
award with a lap of 1:00.574 seconds (90.395 mph).
The win was also the first for a Canadian driver at
Trois-Rivières since 1998 when Alex Tagliani won here. All
three of Valiante's wins have come on temporary street
circuits as well as winning both Canadian races to date, with
Montreal on the schedule in three weeks. Today's runner-up
showing was the second of the year for Gurney after finishing
behind Valiante at Long Beach back in April.
Perhaps the biggest story of the event was the race turned in
by Burnaby, BC, Canada driver, Marc DeVellis (Sierra Sierra
Enterprises/Pro Works Swift 014.a), who along with his team,
were competing in their first CART Toyota Atlantic
Championship race ever this afternoon. DeVellis picked his way
through the field and with two laps remaining, passed Jon
Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards
Swift 014.a) to take the final podium spot.
"The attitude going into this was to be pretty conservative,"
said DeVellis whose team is still less than a year old. "I
think we went back a few positions at the start, but I didn't
mind because I wanted to keep clean because I knew we would
have a very strong race car in the later stages of the race. I
basically just waited for the car to come in and then charged
hard at the end. When I went to pass Fogarty first, I tried on
the inside. He tried to protect his line so he blocked me, but
racing is racing and I tried again and made it past him. This
is a sign of good things to come."
The win extended Valiante's Championship lead to 19 points
over Fogarty with a total of 123 points with three races
remaining. Fogarty moved to second in the Championship past
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Andor Capital Management/Medlock
Ames Winery Swift 014.a). Although losing second to Fogarty
and ground to Valiante in the Championship, Hunter-Reay
salvaged what had been a tough weekend up until the race. Like
DeVellis, Hunter-Reay worked his way through the pack on what
is a traditionally tough track to make up ground and finished
seventh after starting the race 15th. The performance allowed
Hunter-Reay to keep the margin down to Fogarty to only two
points, but now trails Valiante by 21.
"Finally we got close to a car we had been looking for all
weekend," said Hunter-Reay, who like Valiante, has also posted
three wins this season. "Considering we started 15th, I think
we did a good job to collect some more points toward the
Championship and now we'll focus our efforts toward Road
Rocky Moran Jr. (Sigma Autosport/Sunoco/BG Products Swift
014.a) rounded out the top five, but dropped to fifth in the
Championship behind Gurney with 90 points.
Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift 014.a) had a
somewhat successful return after missing the past six races
while recovering from injuries sustained in a May testing
accident at the Milwaukee Mile. Hand dropped all the way back
to last from his fifth place starting spot after receiving
damage to his front wing early in the race, but charged back
through the field to finish ninth.
"I knew this race was going to be a dogfight," said Hand.
"There was a lot of blocking and wheel banging going on and
unfortunately our front wing got caught up in the middle of
it. The DSTP boys did an excellent job of getting things fixed
and keeping me on the lead lap. About the middle of the race,
I tuned the car a bit and just drove the wheels off of it. We
kept reeling people in and moving up, but we just ran out of
time, but it feels so good to be back."
1. (1) Michael Valiante, 45.
2. (2) Alex Gurney, 45.
3. (10) Marc DeVellis, 45.
4. (4) Jon Fogarty, 45.
5. (11) Rocky Moran Jr, 45.
6. (8) Luis Diaz, 45.
7. (15) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 45.
8. (14) Rodolfo Lavin, 45.
9. (5) Joey Hand, 45.
10. (9) Sepp Koster, 45.
11. (16) Alex Figge, 45.
12. (18) Alex Garcia, 45.
13. (3) Grant Ryley, 44.
14. (19) David Wieringa, 44.
15. (20) Nicolas Rondet, 44.
16. (23) Eduardo Figueroa, 44.
17. (24) Dave Cutler, 44.
18. (22) Kyle Krisiloff, 43.
19. (26) Eric Jensen, 43.
20. (21) Frank Dancs, 43.
21. (27) Bob Siska, 41.
22. (12) Waldemar Coronas, 41, Contact.
23. (13) Ryan Dalziel, 26, Mechanical.
24. (7) Jonathan Macri, 18, Contact.
25. (6) Roger Yasukawa, 9, Mechanical.
26. (25) Carl Russo, 7, Contact.
27. (17) Stephan C Roy, 2, Contact.
Winners average speed: 83.599 mph
Time of race: 49:07.433
Margin of victory: .742 seconds
Lap Leaders: Valiante, 1-45
Cautions: One for four laps
Point standings: 1. Valiante, 123; 2. Fogarty, 104; 3.
102; 4. Gurney, 92; 5. Moran Jr, 90; 6. Diaz, 84;
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