Lally Has Strong Showing in Saturday's F2000 Race; Dayton Almost Records a Top-10 Finish
FOUNTAIN, Colo., Sept. 26 - Highcroft Racing's Andy Lally totally dominated half of the U.S. Formula 2000 race at Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, two drivers then hit him from behind in two separate incidents, eventually forcing him out of the race while the Red Line Oil Bowman BC5 was running third.
The other Highcroft Racing driver, Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y., missed several skirmishes and turned a 26th starting spot into a strong 12th-place finish.
Lally, of Northport, N.Y., started third and took the lead from polesitter David Besnard on the first lap with a masterful move on the outside entering the oval. Instants later the yellow flew for a four-car crash in turn three of the oval, entering the infield portion of the 1.34-mile road course. A flying wheel just narrowly missed Dayton, who had to stay on the oval while taking evasive action.
When the green came back out on lap five Lally was in the lead and Dayton was 19th. Lally was particularly strong on the oval, pulling ahead by several car lengths until the other top runners closed on him when he entered the infield section of the course. The action was torrid behind him, as Besnard and Jonathan Bottoms both did everything they could to catch him.
Dayton was back in 19th and 20th while this was going on, dealing with a car spinning out right in front of him on lap 11, and withstanding everything that Greg LeMond could dish out lap after lap.
On lap 15 of the 36-lapper Besnard passed Lally by dipping under him under braking as they entered the infield, dragging his teammate, Hornish, with him. There were only inches between the top three cars and Hornish hit Lally's rear end, bending his exhaust pipe down and damaging his left rear wheel. Hornish later apologized for the incident but the damage was done, as Lally's Bowman lost some power from that point on.
With Lally's car damaged, Hornish was able to get around him for second on lap 18. Unfortunately that wasn't the end of Lally's problems. Bottoms, who was fourth, crashed into the rear of Lally's car with 18 laps down in the same spot as the exhaust had been bent. Both cars spun. Lally's left rear and left front were both damaged and he was forced to retire one lap later for a 29th place finish.
"What's bad is that this drops me from fourth to fifth in the point standings," said Lally afterwards.
The season finale is scheduled for tomorrow here at PPIR.
Dayton was happy just to finish. He was also pleased to come out on top of a long battle with LeMond, Larry Foyt, Tom Wood and Jacek Mucha, and he was closing on Christian Coggins at the end.
"The car was best in the middle portions of the race; by the end my tires were really going away," he noted. "We'll make some more changes and see if we can finish tomorrow too. Finishing is more than half the battle in Formula 2000 racing, and I'm just glad to finally finish a race."
Besnard, who clinched the championship at the last race, won the event over Hornish, Aaron Justus, Rolando Quintanilla and Ian Lacy.