Road Atlanta II: Duncan Dayton pre-race notes

Dayton and Field must win or finish second in Class and Dyson must score no points in Saturday's Petit Le Mans for the Intersport drivers to win LMP 675 Drivers' Title BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 16 - Eight 2003 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races ...

Dayton and Field must win or finish second in Class and Dyson must score no points in Saturday's Petit Le Mans for the Intersport drivers to win LMP 675 Drivers' Title

BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 16 - Eight 2003 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races are history, and Duncan Dayton has only one more chance to score points in the LMP 675 class this year as he and his teammate, Jon Field, attempt to win that division's drivers' championship. That one remaining race is the prestigious Petit Le Mans, a grueling 1,000-mile or 10-hour race on Saturday at Road Atlanta Motor Sports Park here. One of the landmark events of the ALMS, it is a shorter version of its namesake, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.

The season has had lots of ups and downs for Dayton, of North Salem, N.Y., and his teammate, Field, of Dublin, Ohio. Both are nothing if not determined.

Since Saturday's race is so long a third driver, Larry Connor of Centerville, Ohio, will join them this weekend in the Intersport Racing Lola #37, which is sponsored by Banana Joe's, Highcroft Racing and Goodyear.

The good news is that Dayton and Field have led the LMP 675 drivers' point standings most of the year and they won a shorter race at Road Atlanta in the spring. They also won their class at last year's Petit Le Mans, and Field won the LMP 675 drivers' title last year.

Both have escaped with minor injuries from major crashes this year, too. When Dayton crashed the team's regular Lola during practice at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., in July, another Lola belonging to Chamberlain Motorsports was pressed into service and affectionately called "The Junkyard Dog" due to its amalgamation of parts and paint. Dayton and Field campaigned that car while their regular Lola was being repaired, and it is finally back in action this weekend at Road Atlanta. Field crashed the Junkyard Dog during qualifying at the last race, the Grand Prix Americas in Miami last month, but the team miraculously repaired it in time to earn a fourth-place finish in class there.

Now the points battle all comes down to the season finale, Saturday's Petit Le Mans. Dayton and Field trail Chris Dyson by 20 points going into the event, 115 to 95, with 26 points up for grabs. That means Dayton and Field must win the class or finish second in class on Saturday and Dyson must score no points. The other title contender is Jason Workman, who is currently fourth with 92 points. He could end up the champ if he wins the class on Saturday and neither Dyson, Dayton nor Field score any points. The others in the class - Andy Wallace, James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger, Melanie Paterson, Scott Bradley, Didier de Radigues and Chad Block - are mathematically out of contention for the title.

In the eight races held so far this year, Dayton and Field have two class victories (Road Atlanta in June in their regular car and Trois-Rivieres in the Junkyard Dog); one second (Sebring); one third (Laguna Seca); two fourths (Road America and Miami); one fifth (Mosport) and they had one DNS (Sonoma).

Although it's very early, so far things have been going pretty well for the team in practice at Road Atlanta. Connor was third fastest in the class in Thursday morning's practice session and second fastest in class Thursday afternoon. More practice sessions will be held tonight and tomorrow and there will be a warm-up session Saturday morning before the race.

Tomorrow qualifying will be held at 2:50 p.m. Eastern time with the race slated to get the green flag at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday. The drivers will travel over the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit for 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first.

Live television coverage of the event on the SPEED Channel begins with a pre-race show at 11 a.m. (ET) followed by race coverage from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The broadcast resumes from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then again from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have a live broadcast online at www.americanlemans.com. Practice results and pit notes will be posted on that site as quickly as possible too.

Eurosport will televise highlights at 20:00 Central European Time on Oct. 26.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Chad Block , Jon Field , Larry Connor , Scott Bradley , Melanie Paterson , Jason Workman , Chris Dyson