WILDEN SHOOTS GAP, CAPTURES FIRST SERIES VICTORY AT CLEVELAND CLEVELAND, Ohio, July 11, 1998 - Canadian Kenny Wilden recorded his first series victory Saturday, moving into the lead late and holding it at the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic ...
WILDEN SHOOTS GAP, CAPTURES FIRST SERIES VICTORY AT CLEVELAND
CLEVELAND, Ohio, July 11, 1998 - Canadian Kenny Wilden recorded his first series victory Saturday, moving into the lead late and holding it at the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race presented by the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Museum. Round six of the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship was part of the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank.
Wilden, of Burlington, Ont., was surprisingly fast all weekend, starting second in his Mike Shank Racing Services/TrizecHahn/Newcourt/Swift 008.a, and running a close third through the first 15 laps. But Wilden pounced on an opportunity on lap 17 of the 22-lap, time-shortened race when Memo Gidley and Anthony Lazzaro made contact fighting for the lead. The incident left Gidley, who started on the pole and led the first 15 laps, with a broken car and slowed Lazzaro enough for Wilden to pass. After a late-race restart, Wilden held off Lazzaro the final two laps to win by 2.527 seconds. Wilden earned the $20,000 winner's share of the guaranteed $85,000 race purse.
Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., finished second in his MCI/PPI Swift 008.a while Buddy Rice, of Phoenix, Ariz., was third in his Lynx Racing Swift 008.a. Gidley, of Novato, Calif., finished 26th in his Lynx Swift and out of the points, but still leads the championship with 76 points.
"Overall, I'm just ecstatic," said Wilden, whose previous best Atlantic finish was fifth last year at Vancouver. "It's been a long time since I've been on the podium. I got a good run on Memo and Anthony and when those two hit, I was able to slip by Anthony. But I had a great car all weekend. The guys worked so hard. Dale Wise and Tom Knapp did a phenomenal job engineering the car."
For Lazzaro, it was the second time this year he was in position for victory only to see it slip away, through little fault of his own. At Gateway, he was on the pole and was in position to win before rain shortened the race. At Cleveland, he had just passed Gidley for the lead when he and Gidley made contact, setting up Wilden.
For Gidley, it was the second straight race where he had a fast car and left the race out of the points, following victories at three of the first four events. At Montreal, he had mechanical problems. "It was just one of those racing incidents here," Gidley said. "We got caught up in some lapped traffic and made contact. We're still leading the championship, so we'll just move on."
The Player's-Forsythe tandem remained on the rise, with Alex Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., finishing fourth and Montreal winner Lee Bentham, of Richmond Hill, Ont., placing fifth. Case Montgomery finished a season-best sixth in his Condor Motorsports Swift, with David Pook picking up a season-best seventh in his Hylton Motorsports-Budweiser/U.S. Print Swift.
Gidley gained two points for the pole and leading the most laps and Rice moved into a second-place tie with Andrew Bordin at 70 points. Bentham is fourth at 69; Tagliani is fifth with 55.
Wilden also posted the fastest race lap to win the "MCI Fast Pace" award and it's $1,000 bonus, while Rice captured the "KOOL Rookie Challenge" award and the $1,000 bonus. Matt Sielsky, who finished 10th, won the $1,000 "KOOL Move of the Race" and the $1,000 "Yokohama Now You've Got Control" award. It was Sielsky's fifth-straight top-10 finish. Saturday's Atlantic race will be broadcast on Sunday, July 19, on ESPN2 and ESPN International at 3:30 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on ESPN2 on August 9, August 13 and November 23. CTV will broadcast the race in Canada on Saturday, July 18, at 4 p.m. All times are Eastern.
Round 7 of the 1998 KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, at the Molson Indy Toronto.
Results of the 22-lap, 46.332-mile KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship at Burke Lakefront Airport, with finishing position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car, laps, and reason out, if any.
1. (4), Kenny Wilden, Burlington, Ont., Swift 008.a, 22. 2. (3), Anthony Lazzaro, Acworth, Ga., Swift 008.a, 22. 3. (7), Buddy Rice, Phoenix, Ariz., Swift 008.a, 22. 4. (17), Alexandre Tagliani, Lachenaie, Que., Swift 008.a, 22. 5. (2), Lee Bentham, Richmond Hill, Ont.,Swift 008.a, 22. 6. (6), Case Montgomery, Salinas, Calif., Swift 008.a, 22. 7. (10), David Pook, Long Beach, Calif., Swift 008.a, 22. 8. (5), Masaoki Nagashima, Japan, Swift 008.a, 22. 9. (13), Derek Hill, Costa Mesa, Calif., Swift 008.a, 22. 10. (20), Matt Sielsky, Northbrook, Ill., Swift 008.a, 22. 11. (19), Eric Lang, New York, N.Y., Ralt RT-41, 22. 12. (24), Ted Sahley, Cleveland, Ohio, Swift 008.a, 22. 13. (25), Michael Conte, Seattle, Wash., Swift 008.a, 22. 14. (11), David Rutledge, West Vancouver, B.C., Swift 008.a, 22. 15. (14), Bob Thomas, Clarskton, Mich., Ralt RT-41, 22. 16. (8), Rob MacDonald, Keswick, Ont., Swift 008.a, 22. 17. (22), John Brooks, Tucson, Ariz., Ralt RT-40, 21, contact. 18. (16), Ian Bland, Australia,Ralt RT-40, 21, Contact. 19. (21), Michael David, Corona, Calif., Ralt RT-41, 21. 20. (29), Sergei Szortyka, Sinking Spring, Pa., Ralt RT-41, 21. 21. (28), Bob Siska, San Francisco, Calif., Ralt RT-40, 21. 22. (27), Zak Brown, Indianapolis, Ind., Swift 008.a, 21. 23. (26), John Rutherford, Ft. Worth, Texas, Swift 008.a, 21. 24. (18), Cam Binder, Calgary, Alta., Swift 008.a, 20. 25. (15), Rino Mastronardi, Italy, Swift 008.a, 17. 26. (1), Memo Gidley, San Rafael, Calif., Swift 008.a, 16, contact. 27. (23), George Frazier, Prospect, Ky., Ralt RT-41, 12, mechanical. 28. (12), Andrew Bordin, Woodbridge, Ont., Swift 008.a, 7, mechanical. 29. (9), Andrea Delorenzi, Ravenna, Italy, Ralt RT-41, 7, mechanical.
Race Statistics: Margin of victory: 2.527 seconds. Time of race: 31:54.902. Winner's speed: 87.103 mph. Fastest race lap: Wilden, 1:09.736. Laps led: Gidley, 1-15; Lazzaro, 16; Wilden, 17-22. Point leaders (after six of 13 events): Gidley, 76; Rice, 70; Bordin, 70; Bentham, 69; Tagliani, 55; Sielsky 53; Lazzaro, 47; Wilden, 38; Rutledge, 32; Montgomery, 32. Next race: Saturday, July 18, at the Molson Indy Toronto.