Delight in Denver as Dalziel closes on Championship lead Ryan Dalziel's 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship title hopes were further boosted today thanks to a second place finish in Round 10 on the streets of Denver. The Scot's sixth podium finish...
Delight in Denver as Dalziel closes on Championship lead
Ryan Dalziel's 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship title hopes were further boosted today thanks to a second place finish in Round 10 on the streets of Denver. The Scot's sixth podium finish of the season, a tally that includes four wins, more importantly powers the Lanarkshire race ace to within a point of the series lead with just two races remaining 0x2022 Montreal and Laguna Seca.
The 1.657-mile temporary street circuit in Denver has traditionally been kind to Dalziel and today proved to be no exception. With the championship firmly in mind Ryan piloted the #28 ProWorks car to another strong finish by the end of the 37-lap charge, crossing the finish line just 1.283 seconds behind race winner Ronnie Bremer, collecting 27 valuable points for his sterling efforts. Ryan's third straight podium finish in Colorado bumped his season points total to 260 just one point shy of Jon Fogarty.
Series leader and Denver polesitter Fogarty surrendered the lead of the race to Denmark's Ronnie Bremer with two laps to go as he darted into the pit lane to serve a penalty awarded for blocking Dalziel at Turn 1 a few laps earlier. The American rejoined to take a sixth place finish at the flag and collect 19 points for the position and an extra point for leading the most laps to take his points total following 10 rounds to 261.
Ryan commented on the race following the podium celebrations:
"It's great to get a result like this following what can only be described as a difficult week for the team and myself. We put everything behind us to focus on today's race and things have all worked out pretty well.
"The car was good and we were consistent throughout, I don't think I was ever more than a second and a half off the lead. Obviously I was pushing Jon quite hard having passed his team-mate for second right at the start. Ronnie was able to get by as we both ran wide but to finish second with Jon then finishing sixth has kept the fight for the championship a lot closer than people probably thought it would be heading into this race!"
This year's title fight has been slugged out by Dalziel and Fogarty, both drivers four-time race winners in 2004, and with two races left on the 12-race card it couldn't be closer for glory. Fogarty took the title back in 2002, Dalziel's rookie year, while Ryan's seasons-best of nine podiums in 2003 saw the 22-year-old finish the year as runner-up to A.J. Allmendinger. With both drivers keen to graduate to the Champ Car World Series in 2005, their paths could be eased with title success.
The momentum seems to have swung back in Dalziel's favor with the last five races netting the Sierra Sierra Enterprises racer three victories, one second place finish, two fastest race laps and three pole positions. Such consistent form has allowed Ryan to challenge for championship honors and come close to retaking the overall points lead for the first time since Round 3 at Milwaukee in early June.
While Road America and Denver have provided back-to-back race action the series enjoys a brief but well-earned break before heading to Montreal, Canada for the penultimate round on Sunday 29th August. With Dalziel and Fogarty scoring consistently it looks likely the title battle will go all the way to the wire with Laguna Seca hosting a dramatic showdown on Sunday 12th September.