BARRON CAPTURES KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC TITLE MONTEREY, Calif. (September 6, 1997) - The champion shall not be denied was the word of day, for newly crowned KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship title winner Alex...
BARRON CAPTURES KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC TITLE
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 6, 1997) - The champion shall not be denied was the word of day, for newly crowned KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship title winner Alex Barron, of Vista, Calif. Barron secured the championship by capturing the pole on the last lap of final qualifying Saturday morning with a record-setting speed of 102.302 mph, eclipsing the record of 101.385 mph set by teammate Memo Gidley, of San Rafael, Calif. the day before. With the one bonus point he earned for the pole, Barron was assured the championship.
Barron then survived a first lap incident with third place starter Anthony Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., and a self induced mid-race spin to prevail over David Pook, of Long Beach Calif., by 5.853 seconds in the 28-lap race at an average speed of 99.357 mph.
On the start, Lazzaro dove inside of Barron entering turn one. After both suffered side-to-side contact, Lazzaro limped to the pits and retired, while Barron continued with Gidley hot on his heals. "I got a good start," said Lazzaro. "Alex (Barron) picked up on the line. I had already chosen the inside, and when I got up there, he started moving over and we made contact. I think he realized he didn't get a good start and wanted to move over to defend his position and I was there." Gidley, the only driver with a chance to take the title coming in to the race weekend, took advantage of traffic on lap 14 to overtake his Lynx Racing teammate. Barron then spun exiting turn 11 on lap 15, allowing Gidley to extend his lead. Gidley appeared to be on his way to his second consecutive victory until his gearbox failed, giving the lead back to Barron on lap 21. "It was a pretty exciting race with a lot going on," said Barron.
"Anthony Lazzaro ran into the side of me at the start and after that the steering was little crooked, but the care handled fine. Then a few laps into the race my transmission started jumping out of third (gear) and I had to drive some of the turns with one hand. That was why I spun in turn 11, but I didn't lose a place. I'm sorry my teammate Memo had mechanical problems because we were having a great race. I'm very happy for both myself and Lynx Racing to end the season with a win." Alexandre Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., and Michael David, of Corona, Calif., battled behind the leaders. David, who had moved quickly from his eleventh starting position, waged a fierce fight with Tagliani. The two drivers traded positions several times before Tagliani nailed down third behind Barron and Pook on lap 26. David finished fourth followed by Jeret Schroeder, of Vineland, N.J.
Barron took home $20,000 of the $85,000 posted purse and earned the $1,000 "KOOL Rookie Challenge" award. Barron was awarded the $1,000 "MCI Fast Pace Award" for running the quickest lap of the race with a speed of 101.528 mph. David was awarded a $1,000 bonus for winning the "KOOL Move of the Race" and $1,000 for winning the "Yokohama Now You've Got Control." In special recognition to the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Champion, KOOL will bestow the "KOOL Series Cup Award," a $10,000 bonus, to Alex Barron.
The Series Cup Award combined with $15,000 for winning the "KOOL Rookie Challenge Award" guarantees Barron a $25,000 bonus award pay-out. Tagliani won the "KOOL Racing Challenge," which recognizes the highest finishing non-rookie points leader competing in the Atlantic Championship with a $15,000 bonus.
Barron, sat atop the point standings with 178, followed by Gidley with 136 points. Tagliani moved into third with 123, followed by Bertrand Godin, of St. Hyacinthe, Que., who fell to fourth place with 121 points. Case Montgomery, of Salinas, Calif., with 100, completed the top five. Michael Simpson, of Apple Valley, Calif., was the race winner in the C2 class.
ESPN2 will broadcast the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race, Sunday, September 14, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.