LAZZARO RECORDS FIRST VICTORY OF SEASON PLAYER'S-FORSYTHE HITS SNAG AT ROAD AMERICA ELKART LAKE, Wis. -- Anthony Lazzaro capped a near-perfect weekend for the MCI/PPI team with a commanding victory at Round 10 at Road America, earning...
LAZZARO RECORDS FIRST VICTORY OF SEASON PLAYER'S-FORSYTHE HITS SNAG AT ROAD AMERICA
ELKART LAKE, Wis. -- Anthony Lazzaro capped a near-perfect weekend for the MCI/PPI team with a commanding victory at Round 10 at Road America, earning the pole and leading all 15 laps of the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race.
Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., had been knocking on the door to victory all season long and finally was able to piece together a full race for his first victory of the season and third of his Atlantic career. Lazzaro, in the #25 MCI/PPI Swift, held off Lynx Racing's Memo Gidley, of Novato, Calif., to win by 4.016 seconds on the 4.048-mile course. Kenny Wilden, of Burlington, Ont., continued to shine, recording his third podium finish of the year with third place. Lazzaro's teammate, Jeff Shafer, impressed again, finishing fourth.
Gidley's strong showing not only proved Lynx Racing will again factor in the championship by season's end, but moved this season's three-time race winner to within just seven points of Lee Bentham in the drivers' championship. Bentham, of Richmond Hill, qualified fourth and was racing with the leaders until contact with another car cut his rear tire, dropping him out of the race. Bentham, driving the Player's-Forsythe Racing-Indeck Swift 008.a, leads Gidley by a 121-114 margin. Bentham's teammate, Alex Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., started third and was running as high as second before contact with Andrew Bordin spun both cars off course. Tagliani recovered, but finished 14th, falling to third in the championship with 101 points.
"This is very satisfying," said Lazzaro, who won $20,000 of the guaranteed $85,000 race purse. "The last couple of years in the Atlantics have been a real struggle for me, although we've won before. We struggled early in the season in the Swift, but after the summer started, we just needed a little luck. I'm confident every time I get into the car. The MCI/PPI team puts out a fast car every time out. It makes for a good time." Though not a victory, Gidley was pleased to fight off the charges of both Player's-Forsythe drivers in the beginning, then Wilden near the end to record his highest finish since winning Round 4 at Milwaukee.
"We had a really good set-up on the car this weekend," Gidley said. "We just needed a little bit more. Anthony was strong on the straightaways, but I felt we were good in the corners. If I had a little more straight speed, I would've been racing with Anthony. But I just played it cool, and the race came to me. We're at the point now where we've got a good car. I'm just going to put everything I've learned into the memory bank, so it'll help at the end of the season. It's too bad that the Player's cars weren't there at the end, but I've been there, too."
Wilden and his Mike Shank Racing-TrizecHahn/NewCourt team have been on a roll since their victory at Round 6 at Cleveland. Starting fifth, Wilden worked his way past Bordin, then Derek Hill - who ran as high as third with six laps to go - before settling for third.
"I'm very pleased with the car. We peaked right at the race, so the timing was great," said Wilden, who had mechanical problems a week ago to finish out of the points. "Unfortunately, we had a bad start, so I had to be smart during the race. We had a great car last week at Mid-Ohio, too, but we had gearbox problems at the start. Otherwise, I know we would've had real momentum coming into this event."
Bordin, of Woodbridge, Ont., was in the hunt until he and Tagliani made contact as he attempted to pass Tagliani at Canada Corner. Bordin, in the B.D.J.S.-Millennium Data Services Swift 008.a, was unable to continue. He had finished fifth at the last two events.
For a while, it appeared Hill, in the P-1 Racing-Motorola/PacWest Swift 008.a, was headed for his first podium finish in the series. Hill, of Costa Mesa., Calif., made a terrific restart on lap eight, and two laps later was running third. He finished fifth, behind fellow rookie Jeff Shafer, who finished a season-best fourth.
Shafer, of Overton, Nev., has been terrific in his three Atlantic races, finishing seventh in Milwaukee, sixth in Trois-Rivieres, and now fourth, in the PPI-Derek Daly Academy Swift. Shafer won the "KOOL Move of the Race, along with its $1,000 bonus. Shafer also received the $1,000 Yokohama "Now You've Got Control" award. By being the highest-finishing rookie, Shafer also was honored with the "KOOL Rookie Challenge" winner award, and its $1,000 bonus.
By posting the fastest race lap at 2:04.015, Bordin earned $1,000 and the "MCI Fast Pace" award, his second of the season. Bordin broke the fast race-lap record set by Chuck West in 1996 of 2:06.059.
ESPN2 will televise Sunday's Round 10 at Road America on Saturday, Aug. 22, at 2:30 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 4:30 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 29, at 5:30 a.m., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 3:30 a.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 29, at 4 a.m. ESPN International will telecast the race on Saturday, Aug. 22, at 1 p.m. CTV will air it in Canada on Saturday, Aug. 29, at 4 p.m., while French Canadian network RDS will broadcast the race on Saturday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. All times are Eastern.
Round 11 of the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Molson Indy Vancouver, in British Columbia.