March 23, 2002, Fontana California: Veteran CART driver Memo Gidley will drive the back-up car for Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer and Reinbold Racing for tomorrow's Yamaha 400 at California Speedway. Gidley will start at the back of the pack,...
March 23, 2002, Fontana California: Veteran CART driver Memo Gidley will drive the back-up car for Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer and Reinbold Racing for tomorrow's Yamaha 400 at California Speedway. Gidley will start at the back of the pack, following the morning crash of driver Robbie Buhl, which occurred just after qualifying for the Sunday race. Buhl hit the wall in turn two, and was airlifted for precautionary reasons to the local medical center.
"I hate that it's unfortunate for Robbie, because his car was clearly performing well. But for me, I'm used to stepping into these situations," said Gidley. "I'm working very quickly to get up to speed with the team, and we'll be ready to go for the race tomorrow."
The Yamaha 400 will be Gidley's IRL competition debut. He has more than a thousand miles of testing experience with the IRL chassis, and made qualification attempts for the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and 2001. Gidley's best career finishes in CART are a pair of second-place efforts at Cleveland and Houston in 2001. He last ran at the California Speedway in the CART season finale last November, finishing 14th.
"We're fortunate to have Memo in the back-up car," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "The team's performed well at this track, and we have confidence in Memo's experience to get us back to the front of the pack."
Buhl qualified in the fourth position, and had taken the checkered flag before the impact in turn two. He was awake and alert, and undergoing precautionary medical tests at the Loma Linda Medical Center. No stranger to the medical complex, Buhl visited more than 80 young patients at the adjacent Loma Linda Children's Hospital on Thursday morning on behalf of "Racing for Kids."