LAZZARO CAPTURES SEASON OPENER AT HOMESTEAD AFTER MONTGOMERY SUFFERS ENGINE TROUBLES HOMESTEAD, Fla., (March 1) -- Anthony Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., took a come from behind victory in the...
LAZZARO CAPTURES SEASON OPENER AT HOMESTEAD AFTER MONTGOMERY SUFFERS ENGINE TROUBLES
HOMESTEAD, Fla., (March 1) -- Anthony Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., took a come from behind victory in the season-opening KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race at Homestead Motorsports Complex after passing Case Montgomery on lap 48 of the 50-lap contest when his engine began to misfire. Montgomery of Salinas, Calif., slipped one position more when Memo Gidley, of San Rafael, Calif. passed him one lap later to claim second place. Lazzaro, who won with an average speed of 84.662 miles-per-hour, trailed Montgomery after moving into second place on lap 12 from his fourth place starting position in his Platinum Sound/BG Products Ralt RT-41. "The pass for the lead was pretty uneventful because his engine sounded like a popcorn popper," said Lazzaro who had problems of his own during the race. "The car popped out of fifth gear because my arm was rubbing so hard against the lever when I was holding the steering wheel. That cost me time twice." Pole sitter, Chuck West of Sonoma, Calif., led at the drop of the green flag. The caution flag waved for the first time on lap 2 when Michael David, Mark Tague and Kenny Wilden tangled in corner 12. Wildens rear wing was knocked off, but he was able to continue. David and Tague were unable to continue. Racing resumed on lap seven with Memo Gidley and Lazzaro hot on the heels of West. The trio ran three-abreast down the backstretch on lap eight and battled through the road course section of the track. Gidley dropped his Lynx Racing Ralt RT-41 under the World Speed Motorsports Ralt RT-41 of West entering turn one on lap nine. Gidleys right front wing made contact with the left rear tire of West. Gidley took the lead as West lost control and spun into the outside wall. He was uninjured. Gidleys right front wing was damaged slightly but he was able to continue. "I was going into turn one; he came down on me and I obviously got hit and I was trying to regain control and almost had it but he came down on me again," said an angry, Chuck West. "My front and rear tire received punctures. This was so early in the race and we had started to build up a good lead." Gidley ran off the right side of the course in turn 10 on lap 16 and drove through the infield before returning to the course in 13th place. Montgomery took the lead followed closely by Lazzaro and Joao Barbosa of Portugal. The trio battled until the yellow flag flew on lap 22 after Bill Auberlen and Robert Sollenskog who had collided on lap 20 were unable to continue. Auberlen made contact with Sollenskog after going inside of him in turn 12. When the green flag dropped on lap 29, Montgomery and Lazzaro resumed their battle with Barbosa trailing the lead duo. The two leaders quickly pulled further away from Barbosa as he was challenged by French Canadian, Bertrand Godin and Gidley who had rejoined the top-five. Godin grabbed third position from Barbosa on lap 34 and Gidley dropped Barbosa back to fifth two laps later and then set his sights on Godin, who he passed one lap later on lap 37. Godin then moved to close the gap on the two lead cars. The trio stayed close together, waiting until the closing laps to make their final moves for a chance at victory. Montgomerys engine began to misfire and Lazzaro was able to take advantage of the two-time Atlantic race winner when he passed Montgomery as they entered the road-course section of the track on lap 48. Gidley passed the ailing car of Montgomery on lap 49 to secure second place. Lazzaro captured his second career KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race. Gidley finished second in his first start in the series followed by Montgomery, Barbosa and Godin. Lazzaro, who raced on a shoestring budget last year, is already reaping the benefits of an expanded team and full sponsorship. He took home a total of $22,000 including $20,000 for the win, $1,000 for the "KOOL Move of the Race" and $1,000 for winning the "Yokohama Now Youve got Control award." Gidley, who recorded a record-setting fast race lap of 120.880, was awarded a $1,000 bonus for winning the KOOL Rookie Challenge.
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