Milwaukee Race Recap

SERIES CHAMPION LEE BENTHAM BACK ON TRACK WITH VICTORY AT MILWAUKEE MILE WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Reigning series champion Lee Bentham drove the ...

SERIES CHAMPION LEE BENTHAM BACK ON TRACK WITH VICTORY AT MILWAUKEE MILE

WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Reigning series champion Lee Bentham drove the #33 Player's-Forsythe-Indeck Swift to his first KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship victory of the season in an incident-filled affair on the Milwaukee Mile, part of the Miller Lite 225 weekend. Bentham, of Newmarket, Ont., took over the lead from David Rutledge on lap 35 of the 60-race and went on to post a 2.785-second victory over runner-up Kenny Wilden, of Burlington, Ont. Rice, of Phoenix, made a dramatic last-lap pass of top-finishing rookie Nicolas Rondet to finish third, the first podium for Lynx Racing this year. Points leader Anthony Lazzaro started on the pole but a first-turn incident involving Alex Tagliani and Andrew Bordin alongside Lazzaro took out both Tagliani and Bordin, and forced Lazzaro to pit on lap four. Amazingly, Lazzaro overcame several more pit stop visits and charged through the field to finish fifth. Lazzaro continues to lead the championship with 71 points, followed by Rice with 42 and Bentham at 39. "This is much like last year. The turnaround is happening," said Bentham, whose charge to the title last year started here with a second-place finish. "We're coming back in the points. Racing life is really up and down, like a roller coaster!" Wilden, in the Shank Racing-Newcourt/TrizecHahn Swift, was the beneficiary of the Tagliani-Bordin contact, moving into the lead and holding the position until David Rutledge slipped past him on lap 13. Rutledge led for the first time in his Atlantic career from laps 13 through 34 before overworking his tires, allowing Bentham to take the lead for good. "Well, the incident on the start certainly wasn't our game plan," said Lazzaro, whose series of pit stops all came under yellow, allowing the two-time race winner this year to remain on the lead lap. "Andrew saw a hole and was trying really hard for it. Tagliani was up on the other side pinching in. All I could do was let off the throttle, which I did. I braked a little and I think that saved me." In a race full of aggressive moves, Rice's charge past Rondet at turn 1 of the final lap was perhaps the biggest eye-popper, producing some wheel-to-wheel contact between the two, but Rice said he was not to be denied. "We tried to stay in touch with the leaders and still conserve our tires, so we had something left for that last five-lap shootout," said Rice. "This result is really good for the team and hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season." Rondet, in the World Speed Motorsports-Martini Sunglasses/Red Line Oil Swift, ran in the third slot from laps 56-59, before Rice's move. Rondet finished a season-high fourth and now leads the rookie standings with 28 points. The race was slowed by three full-course cautions. The first came when Bordin attempted to take the lead with a move underneath Lazzaro at the first turn. The second came when Bob Perona spun and hit the turn 2 wall, and the third involved five cars, leading to a nine-lap caution, involving Alex Gurney, Cam Binder, Masaoki Nagashima, David Cutler and Imran Husain. Only Husain was able to continue in the race. The opening lap contact dropped Tagliani from second to fifth in the points, remaining with 35. Bordin dropped from sixth to 10th, with 20 points. Lazzaro's charge from the back and resulting fifth-place finish earned him the $1,000 "Yokohama Now You've Got Control" award. Lazzaro also earned an additional $1,000 for the Toyota Pole Award, his third straight this year. Rutledge received the $1,000 "MCI WorldCom Fast Pace" award for the fastest race lap of 25.766 sec./144.190 mph. ESPN2 will televise Saturday's KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Milwaukee on Saturday, June 12, at 4 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on Tuesday, June 15, at 5 a.m., and Thursday, June 17, at 4 a.m. ESPN International will telecast the race on Saturday, June 12, at 4 p.m. The French-speaking Canadian RDS network will broadcast the Milwaukee race on Saturday, June 12. All times are Eastern. Canadian broadcaster CTV is airing the race on Tuesday, June 15, at 8 p.m. in all local markets. Round 5 of the 1999 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held Saturday, June 12, in Montreal, Que., at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Alex Gurney , Alex Tagliani , David Rutledge , Anthony Lazzaro , David Cutler , Andrew Bordin , Masaoki Nagashima , Imran Husain , Lee Bentham