(October 14, 2001 -- Fountain, Colorado) -- In the true American spirit of teamwork and determination, Greg Gorden and the Gorden Motorsports Team perserved against adversity in the inaugural season of the United States Speedway Series to...
(October 14, 2001 -- Fountain, Colorado) -- In the true American spirit of teamwork and determination, Greg Gorden and the Gorden Motorsports Team perserved against adversity in the inaugural season of the United States Speedway Series to finally score a triumphant victory in the USSS Spirit of America Indy Car Grand Prix, Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"This win means so much to the whole team. This is our home track. Our G-Force-Aurora is sponsored by Pikes Peak International Raceway and to win here means so much to all of us. I think it's probably the first time that a major track has sponsored a car that has actually won on that track," said Gorden.
"The team worked hard on the car all season and we've shown progress, but everything hit home this weekend. Ken and I had a heck of a race. The team struggled all year and this is a big deal for the whole team. I really have to thank my crew chief, Joe Wanninger, Nick Clark, my dad Alan, and all my guys," said Gorden.
Gorden showed he was going to be a force in qualifying, taking more than one-half second off Ken Petrie's pole time from the USSS Pikes Peak GP in May, with a hot lap of :52.09 on the 1.34-mile road course, and forcing Petrie to move to the outside of the front row for the first time this season. The Colorado Springs driver had been unable to start two races earlier in the year due to mechanical problems and a broken fuel pump had taken him out while he led at the Dodge City Indy Car Showdown.
On the start, the pair were challenged by Phil Erickson (Phoenix, Arizona), from the inside of the second row in the Erickson Companies Lola-Buick. They were three wide down the front straight and into the first turn of the high-banked oval, but by the time they came out of turn two, Gorden had a firm hold on the lead, with Petrie (Parker, Colorado) right on his rear wing, as they snaked through the infield road course.
Point leader Petrie was unable to catch Gorden's smooth-running G-Force-Aurora until lap 10, when they drag raced side by side down the front straight for the line and Petrie just nosed Gorden to be scored the leader for one lap.
"I got a little loose in the last turn and he got up beside me. Going into to turn one, I kept saying to myself, he's gonna lift, he's gonna lift. I'm either gonna crash or I'm going to lead! Finally, he lifted and I was able to hold our position," said Gorden.
Gorden never looked back after that and roared to his first USSS win, with Petrie in pursuit all the way to the checkered flag.
"If anyone deserved to win, it was Greg. His team has been working really hard and Greg just wasn't going to let up. He pulled me a bit, but it was a great race," said Petrie, who has won five of the seven races to date.
Erickson motored to a consistent third-place finish and dedicated his trophy to his Crew Manager T.J. Clark, who had broken his ankle Saturday in a paddock accident.
The hard charger award of the day went to Gorden Motorsports' teammate Mike Lee (Florissant, Colorado), who was unable to qualify and started at the back in his Hilton Valdoro Resort/Formby Ford Lola-Buick. By the third lap, he had jumped to fourth and slowly gained on Erickson through the remainder of the race.
And in another shining example of American spirit, the Buckley Racing team of Dale Buckley (Commerce City, Colorado) won their race just to start the grand prix. After posting his best qualifying effort of third on Saturday, the team discovered a leaking head gasket and worked feverishly to get the Buckley & Company Lola-Chevrolet into the event. Electing to start at the rear in case their repairs were unsuccessful, Buckley repaid his crew with some excellent driving to move into fifth spot by the sixth lap.
Eric Koselke (Indianapolis, Indiana) brought the Lennon & Associates Lola-Chevrolet home in sixth, after his McDonald Motorsports team also worked tirelessly Sunday morning to remedy gearbox problems. In seventh, it was the third Gorden Motorsports' entry, driven by Russell Reeves (Suwanee, Georgia), in the Precision Shooting Equipment Lola-Buick. He was followed by the March-Chevrolets of Rob Van Westenberg (Morrison, Colorado) and Ted Hummell (Castle Rock, Colorado). John McDonald (Winchester, California) was forced to retire midway through the race, when he lost oil pressure in his March-Chevrolet and Bobby Regester (Florissant, Colorado) was unable to start, after loosing the Buick engine in the Native Sons Realty Lola during qualifying.
By earning 19 points for finishing second and an additional point for leading a lap, Petrie clinched the 2001 USSS Driver Championship, with an insurmountable 31-point lead over Erickson. Loophole Racing continues to dominate the 2001 USSS Team Championship with 219 points.
The final race of the season for the United States Speedway Series will be the "Thanks to America" USSS Indy Car Grand Prix, Thanksgiving weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix. It will be held in conjunction with the National Auto Sport Association race program, which includes Big Bore Production Based & GT Cars, Small Bore Production Based & GT Cars, Open Wheel Formula and Sports Racing Cars.