By Chris Speigner - Motorsport.com Houston, TX - As the green flag dropped on the final race of the season for the Toyota Atlantics Andrew Bordin took the lead on the start followed by David Rutledge, and Martin Basso. On lap four...
By Chris Speigner - Motorsport.com
Houston, TX - As the green flag dropped on the final race of the season for the Toyota Atlantics Andrew Bordin took the lead on the start followed by David Rutledge, and Martin Basso. On lap four rookie Frederick Gosparini locked up going into turn two and slid into Mike Conte, which brought out the first of four cautions on the day. Conte continued on under power but was black-flagged to check for damage. This stop put him a lap down. The cars reformed and the green dropped on lap seven. Buddy rice went to work and pushed his way past Alex Gurney for the fourth spot on his quest to reach the front. Martin Basso vacated the third spot as he contacted the wall in turn five. Major damage resulted as the wall cleaned the right rear suspension from the car and retired Basso early. This was the second caution for the day. Green came again on lap 12 with Bordin still holding first followed by Rutledge and Rice who moved took over third from Basso. Daniel Wheldon got by Alex Gurney as Gurney started his gradual decline to early retirement for this race. Akihiro Asai retired his machine on lap seventeen due to mechanical failure, surely a disappointment to his team on the last race of the year. With a clear track in front of him, Bordin opened up a two-second lead over Rutledge and Rice. Lap twenty-three saw a caution as Alex Gurney's day came to an end due to a transmission failure. Racing resumed on lap 27. Mike Conte was on a good recovery run from his earlier incident with Gosparini, having moved up to mid-field when he spun in turn eight and hit the wall ending his bid for a win. The final green came on lap 33. The caution had brought Rutledge and Rice upon Bordin, but they were unable to keep up. Bordin's car was consistently fast on the restarts all day. Bordin was able too open his lead again to well over two seconds. With nine laps to go it was Bordin, Rutledge, Rice, Wheldon, and Lally. With four laps to go, Hoover Orsi made a move to improve his standing overtaking Bob Perona for the sixth spot in a tire smoking pass in turn five. At the end it was Bordin holding off the final lap charge of Rutledge and Brian Rice.
With the close of this race the season ended for the Atlantic series. Brian Rice had already clenched the series championship. Daniel Wheldon, who finished fourth, won rookie of the year honors. Bordin set fast lap time for the race, and said goodbye to his PPI race team. PPI will not be fielding a team next year.
Andrew Bordin on the race:"I was extremely, extremely pleased. For so many reasons, this race meant so much to me. I needed to win this race to finish third in the Championship, which obviously is very important. This is PPI's final outing ...it has been a great experience with this team." Bordin currently has no plans for next season. He is looking for a ride. "None of the major [team] owners are not looking at the young drivers. If they are not willing to give us a chance we've got no place to go."
David Rutledge had a good showing today with his second place finish. "Our goal today, as always, was to win the race. It was important to have a finish that ended the season on a high note and set the tone for our winter testing and next year." Rutledge will be returning to Lynx Racing next season. "...To know what I'll be doing next season for the first time in my career, is really a great feeling. Lynx is a great team, and I'm proud to be part of it."
Buddy Rice had a slow start but was able to make the run up to his final spot in third. "I had a difficult start and hit the rev limiter while shifting into third. I fell back a few spots but was able to move back up and catch David. [Rutledge] We could run with him, but didn't have enough to get around. It's been a terrific year and now it's time to celebrate our championship win."