Bremer Grabs First Atlantic Win in Denver While Dalziel's Title Chase Closes Up to Fogarty DENVER, Colorado (August 15, 2004) -- It was hard to tell who was the happiest driver following Sunday's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship...
Bremer Grabs First Atlantic Win in Denver While Dalziel's Title Chase Closes Up to Fogarty
DENVER, Colorado (August 15, 2004) -- It was hard to tell who was the happiest driver following Sunday's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Denver Presented by Yokohama.
Rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) earned his first-ever Atlantic victory in Round 10 of the series championship, but he and second-place finisher Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) had smiles that were equally as wide following the 37-lap race as Dalziel closed to within one point of the series lead with two races remaining.
Bremer, Dazliel and Atlantic point leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) battled it out on the 1.657-mile street circuit and as the race hit its home stretch the fight got rather heated. Fogarty, who started on the pole and led the majority of the race, found himself desperately trying to fight off both Dalziel and Bremer late. On Lap 32, Fogarty made a defensive move in Turn 9 when both drivers got a run on him. Race officials determined that the move was an illegal block and flagged Fogarty for a drive-though penalty.
Both Bremer and Dalziel took advantage of the infraction. Bremer seized the lead and held off Dalziel to win by 1.283 seconds, while Scotland's Dalziel earned enough points to draw to within one of Fogarty for the Atlantic championship (261-260) with two races remaining.
The result concluded a turbulent week for the speedy Scot. He and his Sierra Sierra Enterprises team were penalized for a shock absorber part that was out of compliance with series specifications following his win at Road America last week. Dalziel was docked five championship points and the team fined $15,000 for the violation, but after Sierra Sierra protested the infraction, a panel of judges overturned the ruling and the points and money were reinstated.
After battling tooth-and-nail with rookie Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) for much of the race, American Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) brought home a strong finish in third place. It marked Sellers third podium of the season and his top result since his career-best second-place effort at Cleveland in Round 6. Ranger, who started seventh on the day and aggressively moved up the order early, came in fourth for his seventh finish this season among the top four drivers.
Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) carded the fastest lap of the race on her 30th turn around Denver's Pepsi Center and she crossed the finish line in fifth place for her ninth top-five result in 10 races this season.
After the drive-through penalty, Fogarty managed a sixth-place finish -- his worst since a sixth-place result in Round 2 at Monterrey, Mexico. Rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) owned a seventh-place result for his best finish since Round 5 in Portland.
After starting second behind his teammate Fogarty, Boulder, Colorado's Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) struggled at the start of the race but recovered to finish eighth in the rundown. Rookie Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) was ninth for his fifth top-10 finish of the year.
In just his third Atlantic event, rookie Al Unser (#10 Port-A-Cool/200 + Marketing and Management) recorded his second top-10 result in 10th position. Unser was perhaps the most exhausted of the Atlantic drivers in the field as he completed a doubleheader weekend today after running with the Infinity Pro Series in Kentucky on Saturday.
Eric Jensen (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta) was 11th on the day and Cam Binder (#65 Avmax/Western Avionics) was 12th in the only C2 class entry of the weekend.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship will be idle next weekend but the series returns to action August 27-29 at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road circuit at the Molson Indy Montreal.
Follow all of the action of the top open-wheel development series in North America at www.toyotaatlantic.com.
ATLANTIC RACE NOTES
* Ronnie Bremer's victory today also enabled him to reclaim the lead in the competitive BG Products Rookie of the Year chase. Bremer and Andrew Ranger have see-sawed back and forth for the rookie lead all season and Bremer now holds a two-point advantage in the competition.
* Today's race marked the second time this season that an Atlantic race has been run caution free. Round 5 of the championship in Portland was also run without a yellow flag.
* Toyota Atlantic Series Managing Director Vicki O'Connor celebrated her birthday on Saturday.
* Argent Mortgage Company, the presenting sponsor of today's race, will donate $2,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado in Danica Patrick's name for posting the fastest lap of today's race. Patrick, who runs with Argent as her primary sponsor, established a new race record with a top lap of 1:07.804 on Lap 30. The Argent "Fast Lap" program will present a similar donation to the driver with the top race lap time at the Toyota Atlantic season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway next month.
Quotes from the top three drivers from today's race, as well as series point leader, Jon Fogarty, follow:
RONNIE BREMER (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems): "We were struggling a little when we came into the first qualifying, and in the second qualifying we spent too much trying to change some things on the car in the pits. We only got a few laps to improve my times, but not enough. Polestar (Racing Group) did an awesome job this weekend. It's been a hard season for me, running for different teams, leading the championship early on, then falling down to sixth and struggling to get back up there. I was the first rookie to win a race this year and maybe I was a little lucky but I still felt I had the car to do it. In the incident with Fogarty, he got a black flag for blocking. He broke the rules and I was able to take advantage of it."
RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks): "It's been a week-long struggle. We just wanted to come here and focus on the race. We were quickest on Friday, we had a good car, but we kind of lost our way a little bit with the track conditions in qualifying. In the race, we had the car to win. Jon (Fogarty) broke the rules. He blocked me and justice was served. (The result) is not great as far as the championship goes for him, but absolutely awesome for me. We've had a great car all year, but we've had bad luck. That's why we've been chasing Jon the past few races. We proved all weekend that despite the questions people may have about our car, we weren't cheating and our car is still the fastest car."
BRYAN SELLERS (#19 Lynx Racing): "We struggled in the first practice and the first qualifying and we made a decision to go with a different car for the second day (of qualifying). It was the same car we had in Vancouver, but unfortunately, we were already behind Jon and Ryan at that point in getting the car as good as theirs. We turned our best laps of the weekend in the race, but we're happy anyway. (On a back injury that's bothered him since last weekend at Road America) I spent all of Thursday in the hospital. I need to fly out straight from here to go home (to California) and get some MRIs done. It didn't seem to be much of an issue until the last 10 laps today. My back really started to cramp up and the last seven laps my leg started to get numb. I'm glad we finished third. It's a great result for the team."
JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment): (On the blocking violation that led to a penalty late in the race) "Plain and simple, I broke the rules and I acknowledge that and served a penalty for it. But I think it's an absurd rule and I don't know why the series has this rule. I'm a fair racer. Ryan (Dalziel) had the opportunity to go by me and I didn't squeeze him. That's what racing is all about. I'm fortunate to come away with a slim lead (in the championship) but I shouldn't have to worry about rules like that."