Mid-Ohio: Finlay Motorsports race report

THE CONSISTENT DOGFIGHT Lexington, OH (8/27/05) -- The Finlay Motorsports driving duo of Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley enhanced the team's reputation for consistency -- even in the middle of a dogfight -- as they drove their ...

THE CONSISTENT DOGFIGHT

Lexington, OH (8/27/05) -- The Finlay Motorsports driving duo of Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley enhanced the team's reputation for consistency -- even in the middle of a dogfight -- as they drove their #19 Air Force Reserve / Make-A-Wish Foundation / Commercial Defeasance Dinan-Powered BMW Riley from third place in the starting grid to a 4-th place finish in the EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday evening.

It marked the team's fourth 4th-place finish of the 2005 season, and was the sixth time in the last seven races that the #19 has led the race. Of the ten Rolex series races run so far this season, the Finlay Motorsports team has finished eight of them in the top ten, seven in the top seven, and five in the top five. McDowell and Gidley scored the team's first podium finish podium finish, a 2nd-place, in the 8th race of the year at Barber Motorsports Park.

The 94-lap event at Mid-Ohio was won by the Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford team of Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson.

"Since I qualified the car, I started the race and was able to move up to second on the first lap and ultimately hand the car over to Memo in first place on lap 42," said McDowell. "There were several really long full-course yellows and all the other top teams pitted ahead of us, which meant they would have to come in for a splash of fuel near the end. We waited until the last possible moment to pit, which put us in a position to finish the race without stopping again. It was a good strategy, but then there was another long yellow late in the race that allowed the cars ahead of us to conserve enough fuel to finish without another stop."

Gidley re-joined the race, which was still under a full-course caution, in 14th place. When the race went green again on lap 47, he quickly started picking off the cars ahead, moving up to 9th by lap 50 and into 5th by lap 63. The final yellow of the race came out on lap 83 and lasted for three laps, setting up an 8-lap shootout.

"It was a three-hour dogfight out there with everybody running flat out for the entire distance," said Gidley. "The Finlay team gave us a car capable of winning the race, but our strategy was based on the teams ahead of us having to make one more stop. I had plenty of fuel to finish the race, but the rear tires were pretty well used up by the time we got to the closing laps, and I was fighting for traction so I wasn't able to take the fight to them as much as I would have liked. Consistency is the mark of a really good team, and we keep getting stronger every race so it's only a matter of time until we get that first win."

The next event on the 2005 Grand American Rolex Series schedule is at Phoenix native Michael McDowell's home track, Phoenix International Raceway, September 8 -- 10. The 250-mile/166 lap Phoenix 250 is scheduled to take the green flag at 7:00 pm Saturday evening, and will be shown tape-delayed on the SPEED Channel on Sunday, September 11 at 4:00 pm ET.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Memo Gidley , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Michael McDowell