Jon Fogarty took the lead from Ryan Dalziel on the thirteenth of 38 laps to win today's race at the CART Grand Prix of Denver and to clinch the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Fogarty came into the race at a six-point disadvantage to Lynx Racing's...
Jon Fogarty took the lead from Ryan Dalziel on the thirteenth of 38 laps to win today's race at the CART Grand Prix of Denver and to clinch the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Fogarty came into the race at a six-point disadvantage to Lynx Racing's Michael Valiante, but he drove a smooth and aggressive race to take the race and the title.
Valiante, who needed to finish in second place if Fogarty won, spun late in the race while trying to take third from Fogarty's Dorricott Racing teammate Alex Gurney. Dalziel set the fastest lap after losing the lead, but couldn't get past Fogarty and finished second. Gurney was third at the end.
Fogarty got a good start from fourth on the grid, passing second-starting Gurney as the cars exited turn 1. Polesitter Dalziel held the point. Valiante took a more conservative approach to the start and spent the first lap trying to hold off Joey Hand for sixth place. Fighting car trouble, Hand soon peeled off into the pits, and Valiante waited until things settled down and took fifth place from Rocky Moran, Jr. on lap 3.
As the early laps unrolled, Dalziel extended a clear lead on Fogarty, while Fogarty was struggling to hold off the second Hylton Motorsports car of Ryan Hunter-Reay. On lap 9, though, the leaders encountered a lapped car and Fogarty was able to use the interruption to gain some ground on Dalziel and pull away from Hunter-Reay's pursuit a little. Gurney and Valiante, in fourth and fifth, were staying clean. Both of them were running spaced about three seconds from the cars just ahead and behind.
On lap 13, Fogarty made a move for the lead by setting up outside of Dalziel on the entry for turn 5. Dalziel got nervous, locked up his front wheels and overshot the turn, allowing Fogarty by for the lead.
On lap 15, Hunter-Reay slid wide in turn 1 and damaged the rear wing on his car and the caution flag waved for the first time. Since Hunter-Reay was able to return to the pits, the yellow was only out for two laps.
The next incident removed another car from the list of front-runners. Moran spun out of sixth place while trying to lap Bob Siska and Alex Figge put his car into a tire wall trying to avoid Moran's car. Everyone continued, so the course remained green.
Just three laps after the field got the green, though, Grant Ryley slid into the same tire barrier where Hunter-Reay had his trouble to put the Atlantic's behind the pace car again. Ryley had been running in fifth place.
The green waved again on lap 23, but the whole field never made it through turn 1. Eduardo Figueroa was late on the brakes and launched his car over Eric Jensen's. No one was hurt, but the track safety workers needed five laps to clean up the debris.
With ten laps to go after the restart, Valiante knew he needed to move up two positions to win the championship if Fogarty held on for the race win, and he started looking for a way around Gurney. Gurney, while not obviously blocking for his teammate, was not about to make it easy for Valiante.
On lap 33, Valiante tried a little too hard and spun under braking for turn 5. He recovered to continue in 13th place, but his hopes for the championship rested on hoping for Fogarty to fail to finish the race. Fogarty had been reporting high engine temperatures during the caution laps, but the car held up for the rest of the race.