KOOL / TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP MAKES EIGHTH STRAIGHT APPEARANCE AS PART OF BOSCH SPARK PLUG GRAND PRIX NAZARETH, Pa., April 17, 1998 - Lynx Racing's Memo Gidley will be shooting for two straight victories when Round 2 of the KOOL...
KOOL / TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP MAKES EIGHTH STRAIGHT APPEARANCE AS PART OF BOSCH SPARK PLUG GRAND PRIX
NAZARETH, Pa., April 17, 1998 - Lynx Racing's Memo Gidley will be shooting for two straight victories when Round 2 of the KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship continues on Saturday, April 25, on the oval at Nazareth Speedway. But the series' second race of the season will offer challenges much different from the opener at Long Beach, a temporary circuit besieged by unusually heavy rains.
"Nazareth is a unique track that's half oval and half road course," Gidley said. "You drive turns one and two like you would an oval and turns three and four like a road course. Compared to a true oval, the car is set up much differently, and from the driver's point of view, it's harder to build a consistent rhythm. Because of the short straights, you find yourself passing in the entry and exit of the turns, so you need both patience and nerves of steel. Lynx Racing has won the last three races at Nazareth and I'm hoping to make it a 'four-peat.'"
The first race of the season at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach earlier this month perhaps offered a slight preview of the season ahead, with second-year Lynx Racing driver Memo Gidley taking the victory. But slippery conditions as well as the usual "opening-race blues" kept some of the preseason favorites, such as Alex Tagliani, Lee Bentham and Anthony Lazzaro, from challenging at race's end.
"Nazareth Speedway is one of the most exciting ovals in the U.S. and one of the fastest one-mile tracks anywhere," said Lazzaro, the MCI/PPI driver who ran as high as fourth late in the opener before mechanical problems dropped him off the pace. "Driving an Atlantic car there is very exhilarating. I'm really looking forward to the weekend because we're coming off a great two-day test at Phoenix International Raceway where we made good progress."
Saturday's 60-lap sprint around the one-mile Nazareth Speedway will mark the eighth-straight year the KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship has competed here. Last year at Nazareth, Lynx Racing's Alex Barron won his first of five races en route to the 1997 championship. The previous two years, Patrick Carpentier won the Nazareth event. Barron now is part of Dan Gurney's CART All American Racers team, while Carpentier is in his second year of CART competition, this season with Player's Forsythe. Both Barron and Carpentier will compete during Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota.
The $1.3 million KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship is the richest open-wheel development series in North America, noted for its long history of graduating its stars directly into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART stars Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Carpentier and Barron, as well as 1997 FIA Formula 1 Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
Saturday's Atlantic race at the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota will be broadcast the following Saturday, May 2, on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. ET. Round 3 of the 1998 KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship will continue Friday, May 22, at the Motorola 300 weekend at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.