NA-F2000: Atlanta Highcroft- Race Report

Lally Finishes Third Saturday Night at Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 29 - Andy Lally brought the Highcroft Racing Bowman BC5S home third Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a U.S. Formula 2000 race that preceded the ...

Lally Finishes Third Saturday Night at Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 29 - Andy Lally brought the Highcroft Racing Bowman BC5S home third Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a U.S. Formula 2000 race that preceded the Atlanta 500 Classic Indy Racing League event.

The race was plagued with yellows; only 10 of the 30 circuits around the 1.6-mile course were run under green. The course used AMS's 1.54-mile oval with a chicane added in turn one.

The Northport, N.Y. star started fourth in the 30-car field in his Bowman, which carried sponsorship from www.demonspeed.com in addition to Red Line Oil, SIMTEK, GMP, Slick Eyewear and Maida Development Co. He got shuffled back to fifth at the start and ran in that spot for most of the race due to all the yellows.

The highlight of Lally's race was the restart on lap 23, which was really only the sixth green-flag lap. At that point he vaulted from fifth to third by slipping to the inside in the chicane and passing Ryan Hampton and Bobby Oergel. Then another yellow flew and the race ended under caution, so he couldn't advance any further.

The race was eventually won by Robby McGehee over David Besnard and Lally. Bobby Oregel was fourth and Sam Hornish Jr. finished fifth.

Besnard won the Oval Crown championship, which is a separate championship in the series which counts only the races on the oval tracks and not the road courses. Lally was fourth in those standings.

"The updates we did on the Bowman BC5S worked great," Lally said after the race. "The 1999 Bowman is going to be an excellent race car."

As with most U.S. F2000 races, the start was wild.

"We were four wide at the start," he related. "I went into the grass in the chicane at the start. I had to give a little, and that's why I went backwards at first. I tried to play it smart. Then at the end there I got a good tug and held it for third."

All the yellows made it very hard for all the drivers to establish their rhythm, because the race's longest green-flag run was only four laps. The race was actually red-flagged with 20 laps down to clean up Greg LeMond's accident, as the bicycling Hall of Famer flipped in the chicane. Luckily no one was hurt in any of the accidents.

Lally was also plagued by a lack of communications. His radio went out on the grid, so he was without the assistance of spotter John Plecity in the grandstands or engineers Steve Johnson and Richard Raeder or lead mechanic Jim Bascetta on pit road.

"It was scary without a spotter," Lally admitted. "I couldn't see the green flag because the sun was setting, and there was a huge glare."

When Duncan Dayton's luck changes he's going to be on an incredible roll. He started 15th but on lap seven he did a complete 360-spin in the chicane. He almost got away scot-free, but Tim Duit's car collided with his Bowman as he was getting straightened out, breaking the left front lower wishbone at the rose joint. He returned to the pits under his own power, and was credited with 28th in the final rundown.

The race was taped by ESPN2 for broadcast on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Unofficially, Besnard leads the point standings for the national championship with 333 points going into the season finale, a doubleheader at Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway on Sept. 26-27. Ryan Hampton is third with 275 points, followed by McGehee with 247 and Lally with 206. A total of 66 points are up for grabs at Pikes Peak, which means that Lally could move up to third in the national championship with two good finishes.

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