F2000: Lombardi Wins Thrilling Race
Watkins Glen, NY -- Phil Lombardi capitalized on a crazy F2000 race and kept his GTP Motorsports Van Diemen out of trouble to take the win at Watkins Glen. Lombardi started sixth and carefully worked his way through the field avoiding trouble, and passed 2006 champion Matt McDonough with a few laps to go. With a green-white-checkered restart, Al Guibord Jr. got alongside Lombardi going into turn one but couldn't make it stick. Matthew Inge came home in second inches in front of Guibord Jr, who set the fastest race lap.
Currently, results and points are under review from series officials as multiple teams have lodged protests concerning passing that occurred under yellow flag conditions. There will be a further announcement shortly.
"That was a challenging race," explained Lombardi. "I was slow a bit on the restarts but I had a good car and once I was in the lead, McDonough was so busy trying to hold off Chris Miller that I was able to escape for a bit. Al Guibord Jr had a run on me but I wasn't going to brake until he backed off. We went into those corners as deep as we could go."
"The top cars were so comparable in speed that any one of us could have won that," Guibord Jr said. "As far as trying to get past Lombardi, I didn't want to take an unnecessary risk and take us both out, the car was amazing, it was basically on rails the entire race."
The race saw one green flag lap to begin with, with 32 cars making it through turn one cleanly , followed by a debris caution for parts scattered in the busstop. Coming to the restart an incident between Tom Fatur, Jonathan Scarallo and Phil Lombardi put Scarallo into the pit-side wall bringing out another caution.
"We were three wide on the restart and Lombardi came down on me. To avoid hitting him I managed to make contact with Tom Fatur, putting me into the wall at the same time," Scarallo said. "At the same time, coming to that restart it looked like Chris Miller was playing all sorts of games accelerating and then slowing down."
Tom Fatur shared his view of the crash: "It looked like Lombardi didn't get a good start and he came down on Jonathan (Scarallo), who clipped me, bending my steering. I just drove a few more corners with the steering wheel the wrong way and then just parked it."
Caitlin Johnston survived Scarallo's incident to come home 14th, and had an upfront view of the incident. "That was totally chaotic," said Johnston post-race. "Scarallo's wing flew off, hit mine, damaging it and then bounced into the cockpit, I had to put my arm up to keep it from hitting my helmet."
At the same time Matt McDonough made what many are calling a bonsai move down the inside, going from fifth to first. McDonough's move is in question currently as the track may have been yellow.
When the race went green again Lombardi got past McDonough, in the Piper chassis, who had his hands full with Friday's winner Chris Miller and his JDC MotorSports Van Diemen. The two eventually touched, putting McDonough into the tires and slicing the left-rear tire on Miller's car.
A full course caution came thrown moments later for Mark Defer, who put his race car into the tire barrier coming onto the front straight, sustaining heavy damage.
Defer commented: "I went over the rumbled strips a bit too much and the front nose came off, I had the shock cover in my face and the front nose wedged itself under the car, sending me into the tire barrier."
JDC was able to change tires for Miller under yellow and when the green dropped with two laps to go, Miller went from 24th to 12th. Miller keeps the points lead over Inge and Audette
Results pending, Miller leads the points by a single point over Remy Audette, with another 13 back to Matthew Inge.
While Miller was dicing through the field pole-sitter Matthew Inge was able to outbrake Guibord Jr going into turn one for second place.
Rob Nicholas for K-Fast Autosport came home Masters Class victor, fifth overall. Benjamin Searcy, Fabio Orsolon, Chris Gumprect, Craig Clawson and Charles Finelli rounded out the top ten.
Fabio Orsolon was perhaps one of the biggest stories of the day, wheeling his Alegra Motorsports #26 home seventh after starting 31st. "That race was a total all out fight, " Orsolon said. "We had really good luck with all the yellows as they bunched up the field."