Dalziel Wins at Road America for Fourth Toyota Atlantic Victory of Season ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 8, 2004) -- Ryan Dalziel ( ...
Dalziel Wins at Road America for Fourth Toyota Atlantic Victory of Season
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 8, 2004) -- Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) is hitting his stride at exactly the right time in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.
After setting new Atlantic course qualifying records at Road America on both Friday and Saturday, the 22-year-old Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver completed his mission Sunday, leading wire-to-wire on the 4.048-mile fabled road course for his third victory in the last four races. The impressive performance enabled Dalziel to close the gap in the series championship hunt as he now trails current point leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) by just six points with three races remaining.
Dalziel captured his fourth win of the season to tie Fogarty for the series lead in victories. The result was the Scottish ace's fifth podium finish of the year. Over his three-year Atlantic career, Dalziel has recorded 17 podiums in 33 starts.
Fogarty started second on the day and finished in the same order, but he never seriously threatened Dalziel for the lead as the young Scot won by 1.026 seconds. The finish marked the sixth podium of the season for Fogarty, the 2002 series champion.
While there wasn't a lot of action up front with the race leaders, there were plenty of wheel-to-wheel tangles in positions 3-6 throughout the 17-lap race. Starting third, Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) battled Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company), Ronnie Bremer (#4 PaySystems) and Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) for position from the outset.
After Bremer fought by fellow rookie Ranger early on for third place, Patrick and Ranger engaged in a heated battle on the fourth lap, which resulted in Ranger going off course in Turn 9 before returning to the track. Three laps later, Bremer, Patrick and Kasemets raced three-wide into Turn 1 battling for the third position and Kasemets emerged as the winner of that encounter.
Kasemets enjoyed a great weekend, running among the top five in most sessions. After starting seventh, the Estonian rookie ran in third place for a good portion of the race and set a new Atlantic course record for the fastest race lap.
Ranger fought back from his early off-road experience and passed Patrick for fourth place on Lap 11. Shortly after that pass, Bremer, running in fifth place, went off course and hit the gravel trap in Turn 14, flipping his car in a spectacular crash. Fortunately, the Danish rookie was uninjured in the accident, but he was forced to retire due to the damage.
With one lap remaining, Kasemets was running in third place but went wide in Turn 3, allowing both Ranger and Patrick to get by. Ranger wound up finishing third for his fifth podium result of the season. The 17-year-old racer also reclaimed the lead in the race for the $10,000 BG Products Rookie of the Year award, as he now leads Bremer in the battle for top series freshman by 10 points.
Patrick earned a fourth-place finish and remains in the thick of the championship hunt - sitting third with 209 points - 30 behind Fogarty, the series leader.
Kasemets earned his top series finish, coming in fifth place in just his fifth race. The rookie, who lives in nearby Mundelein, Illinois, used his Formula Ford racing experience at Road America to produce his best Atlantic result.
American Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) improved two positions from his eighth-place starting spot to finish sixth. After spinning on his second lap and making contact with Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment), rookie Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) rebounded to finish seventh. The result was an Atlantic best for the Australian teenager. Figge, who started fifth, saw his race come to an end as a result of the contact.
Another series freshman, Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric), finished eighth for the second time in three events, while Al Unser (#10 200 + Marketing and Management/Masterplan Group International) brought home a ninth-place result in his first series action since the opening race of the year in Long Beach.
Eric Jensen (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta) earned his third top-10 result of the season in 10th place and the two C2-class entries of the weekend -- Tony Loniewski (#34 Margay) and Cam Binder (#65 Avmax/Western Avionics) -- were 11th and 12th, respectively, in the rundown.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship gets right back into action next weekend with Round 10 on the series calendar -- the Argent Mortgage Grand Prix of Denver Presented by Yokohama, August 13-15, on the streets of Denver.
ATLANTIC RACE NOTES
* With today's victory, Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) has moved into an eight-way tie for 17th place in career Toyota Atlantic victories by capturing his sixth career win. He becomes the 24th driver in the 31-year history of the series to post at least six career wins. Current series competitor Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) has also earned six career Atlantic victories.
* Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) finished fourth for the third consecutive race. She earned the bonus point today for improving the most positions during the race. The Rahal-Letterman racing driver continues to lead the series in top-five finishes, now with eight in nine races. Patrick's worst finish this season was seventh in Portland (Round 5), where she earned her first Atlantic pole position.
* Argent Mortgage Company, the presenting sponsor of today's race, will donate $2,000 to the Safe Harbor Domestic Abuse Shelter of Sheboygan County in Tonis Kasemets' name for posting the fastest lap of today's race. Kasemets recorded a top lap of 2:00.452 (120.984 mph), to establish a new race-lap record at Road America. Jonathan Macri held the previous record of 2:02.688 (118.779 mph), set in 2001.
Quotes from the top three finishers from Sunday follow:
RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks), fourth win this season and second straight; closed within six points of Jon Fogarty, 239-233. "It's a huge recovery from the accident Wednesday. That's why this team is so great. It was a bad practice week. We destroyed our primary car. It shows how good this team is when we can roll out the second car and do so well. The car was fast right out of the box. We have the best engineers with Kyle Brannan and Dave Faustino and the best driver coach, David Empringham. Road America is notorious for drafting. We had a mega car. It was good on the restarts and extremely quick through the first couple of corners. It was an awesome result for the team and the Kottke family (team owners). (Regarding the championship battle) Bring it on. We've been very quick every time on the track. We've just had some bad luck, as has Jon. We're confident in the team and in the cars. We've made great strides all year."
JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment), his second-place finish gives him six podiums on the season and was his 13th in 23 Toyota Atlantic starts. "We have a positive outlook every weekend. We were strong. I thought we would be stronger for the race, so I'm a bit puzzled about that. Like Andrew, my top gear was too tall and that caused me to drop out of the draft. It's a tough circuit; physically demanding. It sounds kind of lame not to be happy with second, but it is just a matter of seeing the points go down. (He now leads Ryan Dalziel by only six points, 239-233, for the championship.) We'll just keep on. I'm going to bring the car home each race with the best it can do. (Mid-race, Tonis Kasemets closed on him.) I was not surprised to see him there. They (Brooks Associates Racing) did a good job. They had his car set up the way he needed to draft and go fast. (At Denver, the next race,) I would like to repeat what we did in 2002 (where he won the series title by winning the race); I'm sure Ryan wouldn't agree. It's a good circuit. Montreal and Laguna Seca are both great circuits. (The championship race) is going to be interesting. They are tracks that I enjoy driving. They are all tough tracks and some are physically demanding. We have as good a shot as anybody."
ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye), this was the rookie driver's fifth podium finish of the season and third third-place finish. He took over the lead for Rookie of the Year over Ronnie Bremer, 188-178. "I had a great start, starting in third place. In the straights, I think my fifth gear was too long because when I shifted (into fifth), everybody could catch me. After the yellow (for Ronnie Bremer's crash), I tried to draft (Tonis) Kasemets but I could not because I had a push in the front end. In the ninth corner (on lap four), Danica (Patrick) came very fast and took all of the track. She put me in the grass. I was able to keep going but I dropped back. I just put my head down and pushed all the time. I'm very happy (with the result). This is a very fast track; it was difficult."