Laguna Seca: Season finale race notes

Fogarty Wins in Monterey to Capture Second Toyota Atlantic Title MONTEREY, California (September 12, 2004) -- The second time around was just as sweet for American Jon Fogarty ( ...

Fogarty Wins in Monterey to Capture Second Toyota Atlantic Title

MONTEREY, California (September 12, 2004) -- The second time around was just as sweet for American Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) as the Northern California native captured his second Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama series title on Sunday while winning his sixth race of the season.

Fogarty, who resides in nearby Portola Valley, California, started from the pole and led all 30 laps as he cruised to a 6.569-second victory at the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road circuit. Fogarty posted an average winning speed of 99.786 mph en route to his eighth career Atlantic win. The 29-year-old also won the Atlantic title in 2002.

Today's race came down to a championship shootout between Fogarty and Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) as the American led his rival by five points entering this morning's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Sunday, September 26 - 2 p.m. ET).

Dalziel's title hopes were dashed early, however, as he was penalized for a starting line violation at the beginning of the race when he tried to get past Fogarty before the start/finish line. Dalziel served a drive-through penalty on pit lane for the infraction, ending the possibility of a down-to-the-wire battle for the season crown. The 22-year-old Scot rallied to finish sixth on the day as he wound up as series runner-up for the second consecutive season.

While Dalziel suffered from his actions at the start, rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) benefited from his strong moves at the outset. The Danish freshman took the inside line in Turn 2 at Laguna Seca and moved from fifth to third place. He took command of second position after Dalziel's penalty and went on to finish second for his fifth podium result of the year.

Dalziel's Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye), closed out his first season in the Atlantic series on an up note as he earned a third-place finish for his sixth podium of the season. Ranger was able to secure the $10,000 BG Products Rookie of the Year award as the top first-year driver in the series as he held off Bremer by just six points for the honor.

Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) completed a good weekend as he carded a fourth-place result after starting sixth on the grid. The Hollywood, California native also earned a bonus point for turning the fastest lap of the race as he produced his third top-five result in the season's last five races.

Rookie Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) also had an impressive effort finishing fifth in his first start at the tough Laguna Seca course. Kasemets, who ran a limited Atlantic schedule this season, equaled his top series finish with today's result.

For the third consecutive race, rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) came home in seventh place for his ninth top-10 result of the year. Festa's Rahal-Letterman Racing teammate, Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company), finished outside of the top five for only the second time this season as she crossed the stripe in eighth place. Patrick wound up third in the season standings, despite recording her worst result of the year in the season finale.

Former Atlantic competitor Joey Hand was on site this weekend in Monterey and he was tapped to drive this morning as Philip Fayer (#3 PaySystems) came down with an illness. Hand stepped into the #3 car and delivered a ninth-place result for Polestar Racing Group.

Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) started seventh on the day and, like Dalziel, he was also flagged for jumping the start of the race and had to serve a drive-through penalty. Sellers wound up 10th by the checkered flag. Australian Daniel Pappas (#10 QLD Group/Vagelis Cafe and Bar) produced an 11th-place effort in his first taste of Toyota Atlantic competition.

Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group), Cam Binder (#65 Avmax/Western Avionics) and Adam Pecorari (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta) were all forced to retire early due to mechanical problems, but Binder still earned enough points to claim the C2 class championship this season.

Today's race was completed in 40:22.220, setting a new Atlantic record for the fastest race at Laguna Seca. The mark topped the previous record of 40:29.847, established in 2000 when Dan Wheldon took the checkered flag.

ATLANTIC RACE NOTES

* Jon Fogarty became the first two-time Toyota Atlantic series champion since current Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver coach David Empringham won the title in back-to-back seasons (1993-94).

* Today's race was the third consecutive Atlantic event that was run caution free. This is the fourth race of the season that has been completed without incident, joining Montreal, Denver and Round 5 in Portland as flag-free events.

* Argent Mortgage Company, the presenting sponsor of today's race, will donate $2,000 to the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) in Alex Figge's name for posting the fastest lap of today's race. Figge carded a lap of 1:19.989 on Lap 9 today. Argent has made similar donations to local organizations at events this season in Cleveland, Toronto, Road America and Denver.

Quotes from today's top three finishers, plus championship challenger Ryan Dalziel, follow:

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) "(Winning the championship) is pretty indescribable. I guess the first thing is a sense of relief. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Whether that came from outside or within, it was a lot of pressure. I'm very happy. It was great to be associated with the Figge family (team sponsors). Ryan (Dalziel) crossed the (start-finish) line just ahead of me, which is a violation. It sucks for him. The same kind of thing happened to me in Denver (when he was penalized for blocking). I don't think he had the car for me today, anyway. Fortunately, I am very comfortable on this race track. I'm just happy I had a lot of friends and family here to enjoy this moment with me. I had a lot of time to chill out after Montreal. My biological clock wasn't all screwed up (because he lives in the same time zone). I rode my bike a lot to stay fit. (On his racing plans for next year) It's difficult. As you all know, racing is up and down. Just being here (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) is cool. It's such a great race track. It just solidifies that I want to be in a series that runs predominantly on road courses. I won't compromise that."

RONNIE BREMER (#4 PaySystems) "To begin with, I actually got a bad start. (Bryan) Sellers passed me at the start. I decided I had nothing to lose. Everybody was looking to the right. I went to the left and actually went onto the pit out road, which is part of the racing surface. I wound up third in Turn 2. I want to thank Polester (the team) and PaySystems (the sponsor) for giving me a chance to finish the season. I learned a lot of things (this season). I (also learned) to never give up hope. At least I won a race. That was my goal. I'm talking to some Champ Car teams (for next year). My goal is definitely to be in Champ Car. I think it is time for me to move on. But, if the opportunity is not there, I would return to Toyota Atlantic. I like it here."

ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) "It was a very good race for me, but a tough one. I pushed too much in the fast corners. I eased up some, but then I saw Alex (Figge) coming and I had to stay ahead of him. It was a fantastic year. I learned very much. (For Rookie-of-the-Year) It was a big fight every race. Ronnie (Bremer) is a very good driver. He pushed very hard all the time; I pushed hard, too. It will be better for me to stay in Toyota Atlantic (next season). I want to do a little bit more. I will spend another year in Toyota Atlantic and learn."

RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Pro-Works) "To decide the outcome of the series in this manner is extremely frustrating. I served my penalty and while I probably didn't have a car good enough to win today's race, I would have appreciated the opportunity to try. It's still a great result to finish the year as series runner-up, we've won races, won poles and proved ourselves when circumstances have worked against us. Overall it's been a good year, now we look to the future."

-atlantic-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Joey Hand , Dan Wheldon , David Empringham , Alex Figge , Adam Pecorari , Bryan Sellers , Andrew Ranger , Philip Fayer , Chris Festa , Tonis Kasemets , Josh Hunt