Lee Trounces the Competition To Win Formula BMW Race And Set Two New Records Saturday at Grand Prix of Denver DENVER, Aug. 12 - Matt Lee, the 16-year-old sensation from Syosset, N.Y., won Saturday's Formula BMW USA race at the Grand Prix of ...
Lee Trounces the Competition To Win Formula BMW Race And Set Two New Records Saturday at Grand Prix of Denver
DENVER, Aug. 12 - Matt Lee, the 16-year-old sensation from Syosset, N.Y., won Saturday's Formula BMW USA race at the Grand Prix of Denver by a whopping 3.790 seconds over Reed Stevens.
Lee, who drives for Team Autotecnica, also set two new records on Saturday. On Saturday morning he won the pole for a similar race here on Sunday with a new track record of 1:14.952 (79.587 miles per hour). That was his fifth pole so far this season, which makes him the series' leading pole winner for 2006 so far. The second record came when he broke the old mark for the fastest lap of the race here, running a 1:15.356 on lap 21.
On Friday Lee also won the pole for Saturday's race, Round 11 of a 14-race season consisting of seven doubleheaders. Round 12 will get the green flag tomorrow at 10:15 a.m. local time. Both races are support events to Sunday's Champ Car World Series headliner.
After Saturday's action Lee has cut the current point leader's advantage by more than half. Coming into this race Canadian Robert Wickens led the point standings by 20 points over Lee. After the qualifying sessions and Saturday's victory Lee has now cut Wickens' advantage to only nine points with three races to go, 122 to 113, according to series officials.
Although Lee started on the pole Saturday by virtue of his qualifying time of 1:16.113 (78.373 mph) and he set the fastest lap of the race, he didn't lead the whole way. Stevens, who started second, got by him on the first lap, but Lee showed his race craft by patiently waiting to make his move back by him. He saw an opportunity in turn three of the nine-turn, 1.657-mile street circuit on lap 14 of the 23-lap race and he immediately took it. With Stevens behind him Lee then continued to record extremely consistent and extremely fast laps. He was 3.790 seconds ahead of Stevens at the checkered to record his second victory of the season. John Zartarian finished third.
Lee's Autotecnica teammate, top rookie contender Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn., also did very well. He started 15th and battled his way up through the very competitive 24-car field to finish ninth. He'll start in ninth place in tomorrow's race too.
"Stevens passed me on the straightaway on the first lap, and then I got back by him in turn three on about the 14th lap," Lee reported after Saturday's race. "I was timing my move the whole time I was behind him.
"I had a couple of close calls; the closest was going into turn seven once when I was trying to pass Reed," he related. "We were about 13 seconds ahead of everyone else, and I doing my best to pass him without hitting him in the rear.
"My car was really good today," he added. "I want to thank everyone at Team Autotecnica for their hard work."
Can he do it again tomorrow?
"Yeah, hopefully!" he said. "Now we're only nine points behind Wickens. This makes the championship battle even closer, and hopefully we can win it!"
There are only three more races in the 2006 season: the one tomorrow here in Denver and two at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario Sept. 1-3.
Both Lee and Thorne's Autotecnica cars are sponsored in part by Bumper to Bumper, Autoparts Warehouse, the Francis A. Lee Company, Matt-Con Services Corp. and Integrated Structures. Both drivers are also looking for additional marketing partners to join their program.