LAZZARO STEPS ASIDE, LETS PPI TEAMMATE BORDIN TAKE VICTORY AT HOUSTON FINALE HOUSTON, Texas, Sept. 26, 1999 -- Leading the season finale with just three turns left, KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship titlist Anthony Lazzaro waved goodbye to his...
LAZZARO STEPS ASIDE, LETS PPI TEAMMATE BORDIN TAKE VICTORY AT HOUSTON FINALE
HOUSTON, Texas, Sept. 26, 1999 -- Leading the season finale with just three turns left, KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship titlist Anthony Lazzaro waved goodbye to his Atlantic career by waving teammate Andrew Bordin into the lead Sunday at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Lazzaro's gesture gave Bordin his second victory of the season and moved him up into third in the final points standings.
Lazzaro, who clinched the 1999 Atlantic title the previous race at Laguna Seca, controlled the entire 43-lap finale before slowing up and allowing PPI teammate Bordin into the lead at turn seven. Lazzaro took the lead on the opening turn after polesitter Buddy Rice suffered a mechanical ailment as the green flag dropped.
"Today's story is about teammates and teamwork," said Bordin, who picked up his third Atlantic career victory. "Today was just awesome and I have Anthony to thank. He did a really classy thing out there. This is his win. I would've done the same thing for him and this really means a lot."
Bordin took the checkered flag, but the race, and the season, was all Lazzaro. Had Lazzaro kept the lead, it would have been his fifth victory in 12 races. But Lazzaro was more than happy to lend a helping hand to his teammate, and his team, which has given him a nearly flawless car every race this season.
"We wanted to finish with both cars in the top three in points. I came here without the pressure of the championship on my back, but I still wanted to show that we had what it took won this race," said Lazzaro, who finished with nine Atlantic career victories. "The plan was for us to work together, and the team would let us know on the last lap. I'm really happy for Andrew and the whole PPI team."
The planned Bordin-Lazzaro 1-2 finish went smoothly for PPI, but not so much for William Langhorne and Kenny Wilden, who were in a tight battle for third, right behind the PPI tandem. Langhorne, in the Active Motorsports-Black Stone/National MS Society Swift, and Wilden, in the Shank Racing-Newcourt/TrizecHahn Swift, made contact, briefly sending him airborne, and allowing Alex Gurney and Alex Tagliani, in a heated battled themselves for fifth, to slip by.
Remarkably, Langhorne was able to resume, quickly, to recover for third place, his second podium finish of the year. Wilden, however, was able to slip past Gurney and Tagliani at the final turn, claiming back fourth place while Gurney and Tagliani resumed their ever-so-tight battle.
"There was a huge amount of pressure behind me throughout the race," said Langhorne, who picked up his first Atlantic victory earlier at Vancouver. "I just kept my head down and tried not to make any mistakes. I'm ecstatic that I was able to finish the year on such a high note."
Tagliani, in the Player's-Forsythe Swift, was able to overtake Gurney, in the Team KOOL Green-All America Racers Swift, at the final turn, taking fifth place from Gurney, who finished sixth and earned the $1,000 "Yokohama Now You've Got Control" award for his race-long battles with Wilden and Tagliani.
For Rice and his Lynx Racing team, it was a disappointing finish to a disappointing year, although it appeared the season would finish on a high note, heading into the race. Rice had been fastest in all the session except for the warm-up, and was poised for his first victory of the year before having to pit on the first lap for repairs. Rice rejoined the field, and earned the $1,000 "MCI WorldCom Fast Pace" award for netting the fastest race lap at 1:07.822. Rice earned his first Toyota Pole Award - and it's $1,000 payout - since the second race last year.
Sam Hornish Jr. won the coveted Rookie of the Year honor, finishing 10th in the race, but first in the final championship points among first-year drivers. Langhorne's podium finish moved him up into second place in the final rookies standings.
ESPN2 will televise Sunday's KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Houston on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 1:30 a.m., and again at 1 p.m. The French-speaking RDS Canadian network will broadcast the race on Saturday, Oct. 16. Check local listings for the RDS time. ESPN International will televise the Houston race on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m.. All times are Eastern. Canadian broadcaster CTV SportsNet is airing the race on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. in all local markets.