BARRON CAPTURES THIRD KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC VICTORY LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 10) - Alex Barron, of Vista, Calif., capitalized on the misfortune of others and edged closer to the 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship as he captured round...
BARRON CAPTURES THIRD KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC VICTORY
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 10) - Alex Barron, of Vista, Calif., capitalized on the misfortune of others and edged closer to the 1997 KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship as he captured round nine of the 12-race series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, August 10. Barron, 27, a three-time winner in 1997 with additional victories at Nazareth and Milwaukee, toured Mid-Ohio's 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in the Lynx Racing-Victory Circle/Red Line Oil Ralt RT-41 at an caution-slowed average speed of 82.752 mph. Barron crossed the finish line 1.476-seconds ahead of Bertrand Godin, of St. Hyacinthe, Que. Polesitter Jeret Schroeder, of Vineland, N.J., was third in the P.P.I.-MCI Racing Ralt RT-41. This was his finest finish this season. He also recorded his career best Atlantic qualifying mark by winning the pole position with a speed of 105.506 mph. The race was essentially decided in the first turn of the first lap when Schroeder gave ground to Barron, who started on the outside pole, through turn one. Barron snatched the lead and never looked back during the 25-lap affair. Schroeder's chores then turned to fending off a hard charging Godin in his Player's Forsythe Racing Ralt RT-40. "We changed the setup seven times since we got here, so I guess seven times the charm," said Barron. "Lynx gave me a great car that worked really well even on cold tires, but you still had to be careful on the re-starts because there was so much rubber on the track from the Indy cars that it would stick to our tires. When that happened, it took a couple of turns to get them cleaned off. My two oval track victories earlier in the season were a bit unexpected, because my background is road racing, so I'm glad to win on the type of course I like best. Obviously, the championship is going to go all the way to Laguna, so we're going to have to keep our eye on the ball." Godin's fortune was made on the final lap when he squirted past Schroeder to secure second place. "On the last lap, I desperately had to do something," said Godin. "Jeret (Schroeder) had a difficult time in turn two, and I took advantage of the situation." The race was marred by seven laps run under a full course caution with the main culprit coming on a lap 19 re-start, which was precipitated by an earlier incident when James Irvin, of South Miami, Fla., struck a guard rail while exiting turn one on lap 14. Chuck West, of Sonoma, Calif., was steadily improving from his 12th place start and had moved into seventh place when he tangled with Joaquin DeSoto, of Miami, Fla., in turn two. DeSoto was able to keep the pace, but West gyrated into a nearby tire barrier where he was forced to retire for the day. In a nearly simultaneous but separate incident, Chris Smith, of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Michael David, of Corona, Calif., made side-to-side contact in turn 13, with Smith spinning off course. Smith was unable to continue due to clutch problems unrelated to the incident. David Cutler, of Medina, Wash., and Joe Sposato, of Arcadia, Calif., also made contact. Sposato was able to continue after the incident in turn 11, but Cutler was forced to retire. The race returned to green flag racing on lap 23, with Barron again easily pulling away from the field. Barron took home $20,000 of the $85,000 posted purse. Barron also earned the $1,000 "KOOL Rookie Challenge" award and the "MCI Fast Pace Award" for running the quickest lap of the race with a speed of 104.198 mph. Godin and 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." Barron continues to lead the point battle with 121. Gidley lost ground, but maintains second with 102 points. Godin moves up to third with 98, Tagliani drops to fourth with 96. Lazzaro moved up to fifth with 86. Howie Liebengood, of Vienna, Va., was the race winner in the C2 class. DeSoto continues to lead the C2 class standing 142-86 over Irvin. ESPN2 will broadcast the Player's Challenge for the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship, Saturday, August 16, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.