Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Luis Diaz won today's Toyota Atlantic Championship series race at Road America, holding off his Dorricott Racing teammates Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney for his second win of the season. The race was a wild one, with ...
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Luis Diaz won today's Toyota Atlantic Championship series race at Road America, holding off his Dorricott Racing teammates Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney for his second win of the season.
The race was a wild one, with several collisions that required full-course caution periods to fish damaged cars from the gravel traps. The first incident happened on the first turn of the race, when 19th-starting Alex Garcia was bumped into the sand trap while in a three-wide-by-three-deep pack that couldn't fit through the turn.
After two laps of caution, the green flag waved again until Waldemar Coronas punted championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay into the trap outside of turn 5. Coronas continued after a run through the gravel, but Hunter-Reay was done.
While the field circulated under this caution, Kyle Krisiloff and Coronas' teammate Eduardo Figueroa waggled their hands at each other in a discussion over a territorial dispute. When the field was shown the green again, that dispute got nasty. The two drivers were side-by-side coming down the hill to turn 5, with Figueroa on the outside and Carl Russo on the inside of both of them. Krisiloff touched his brakes to let Russo have the corner and was hit by Figueroa. Naturally, the yellow flag waved again to get both cars out of the gravel, while the drivers continued their discussion at the side of the track.
While these three caution periods had kept the race from getting into a good rhythm, there was some movement among the front running cars. Rocky Moran Jr., in particular, had been moving up, getting around Coronas on the initial race start for fifth position, then working past Gurney, Diaz, and points leader Michael Valiante to second place for the third restart.
On that restart, Moran got a good run to take the lead from polesitter Fogarty. Behind them, Diaz got a similar run to pass Valiante as they passed under the starter and Gurney followed him through into fourth.
Moran pulled away to a significant lead of several seconds due to the cars behind him exchanging positions. Fogarty began to struggle with poor handling, which allowed Diaz, Gurney and Valiante to get past him. Behind this battle, Valiante's teammate Grant Ryley was trying to keep sixth position away from Joey Hand. The next caution-causing incident happened just behind them when Coronas again pushed another driver's car into a gravel trap. This time Rodolfo Lavin was the victim (in Canada Corner) and Coronas survived again.
As the field approached the starter's stand to get the green again, Valiante and Fogarty took advantage of a mistake by Gurney on the last turn under yellow to move him back to fifth. Fogarty used his momentum to pass Valiante on the approach to turn one. Ahead of them, Diaz tried to pass Moran in turn one and made contact with Moran's rear wheel, sending Moran into the busy sand trap.
On the final restart, with only two laps remaining, Diaz got a great start to lead Fogarty into the first turn by several seconds. Diaz was never challenged for the lead after that. Gurney made the pass of Valiante for third place as the field approached turn 1. Prior to the flag, Hand finally got around Ryley for fifth place as they got the green.
The white flag came out without incident (for a change) and the Dorricott drivers held their positions while Valiante (successfully) worked to keep Hand behind him and keep fourth. Amazingly, those top five positions remained the same to the finish. The next five finishers were Ryley, Jonathan Macri, Aaron Justus, Ryan Dalziel, and Roger Yasukawa.
The championship points chase got a little tighter with Valiante's failure to reach the podium. He now leads Fogarty 136-122 with two races left on the schedule. Gurney is in third with 106 points, just ahead of Diaz (104) and Hunter-Reay (102). Moran's crash robbed him of a chance to jump into the middle of this battle and he is now fifth with 90 points. Macri (81), Yasukawa (73), Lavin (71) and Dalziel (55) complete the top ten in series points.