Andy Lally to make Atlantic debut

NORTHPORT, N.Y., July 23 - Andy Lally will take another step up on professional open-wheel racing's ladder when he makes his first Toyota Atlantic start on Sunday, Aug. 20 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The Toyota Atlantic series is ...

NORTHPORT, N.Y., July 23 - Andy Lally will take another step up on professional open-wheel racing's ladder when he makes his first Toyota Atlantic start on Sunday, Aug. 20 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

The Toyota Atlantic series is considered to be just one level below the CART FedEx champ car series, which headlines the card at Road America that weekend.

Lally, of Northport, N.Y., will drive a Swift prepared by Chuck West's World Speed Motorsports based in Palm Springs, Calif. The car will carry number 14 and it will be sponsored by Northwest SpeedWerx. Mike Doyle will be the engineer and Rick Hayes will be the lead mechanic.

Last fall a distinguished panel of judges selected Lally, 25, as one of the top three young American open-wheel drivers when he was named to Team U.S.A. and represented the United States in a series of Formula Palmer Audi races in Europe.

He has continued to impress racing's insiders in 2000 despite being hampered by a lack of funding. He has been competing in the Barber Dodge series on a race-by-race basis, and at press time he has three podium finishes to his credit and he's in contention for that series' Rookie of the Year award.

He has also been regularly recording podium finishes in Motorola Cup endurance events, competing in a BMW. Co-driving with teammate Howie Liebengood, he won the Sports Touring class in a Motorola Cup event just last weekend in Toronto, Canada.

Lally has never driven an Atlantic car before. He does have some experience at Road America, as he competed on the challenging 4-mile road course for the first time July 7-9. That weekend he finished just two feet out of second place in a Motorola Cup event. He also drove a Lola for the first time that weekend, as he was a last-minute addition to a Sports Racer 2 team in the headlining Grand American Road Racing Association event.

Lally has been a star of the U.S. Formula 2000 series as well as the Barber Dodge pro series, which both often lead to Toyota Atlantic, but to date he has been unable to advance to the next level due to a lack of sponsorship.

He's extremely excited about this opportunity.

"I'm over the moon right now," he said. "I'm excited and nervous at the same time. It's the hardest challenge I've ever faced as far as the competition goes because there are many seasoned veterans running in this series. I've raced against most of them at one time or the other in the past, but this is a whole new ball game for me, and I look forward to the challenge."

Lally added that team owner Chuck West's offer to drive at Road America came very quickly.

"Chuck and I had spoken earlier in the season, but I approached him during the Toronto weekend [July 15-16] and inquired about the possibility of filling a seat that I'd heard he might have open," Lally said. "One thing led to another and I met with the sponsor there too, and at the end of the weekend I was offered the drive. It's a great opportunity and I can't wait!"

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Andy Lally