ROOKIE GIDLEY CAPTURES FIRST KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC VICTORY TORONTO, Ont. (July 19) - Rookie Memo Gidley, of San Rafael, Calif., won his first career KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race Saturday on the 1.721-mile ...
ROOKIE GIDLEY CAPTURES FIRST KOOL/TOYOTA ATLANTIC VICTORY
TORONTO, Ont. (July 19) - Rookie Memo Gidley, of San Rafael, Calif., won his first career KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race Saturday on the 1.721-mile temporary street circuit around Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Alexandre Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., finished second followed by Case Montgomery, of Salinas, Calif. Gidley led the final 10 laps of the 60.235-mile Atlantic contest that ended under yellow after Greg Harrington, of Suwanee, Ga., made contact with the back-straight wall, bringing out the sixth caution of the day. Harrington was not injured. "I can't tell you how much I wanted this, and how relaxed I am," said Gidley. "The season started off well, but we've had some problems where I had to come up through the field, and that seems to have been good practice. Considering where I started, this is just fantastic. I just drove my heart out, and everything clicked. Lynx Racing gave me a great opportunity. I may not have had the fastest car today, but I made some good moves and got a few lucky breaks, and here we are. I could have lucked into a win earlier in the season, but I feel like I earned this one." Alex Barron, who had captured the pole with a speed of 91.837 mph, led the field into turn one following the Formula One-style "standing start." Tagliani began a fierce battle with Barron on lap two, but Tagliani soon had to hold off the challenges of Montgomery, who had moved to third from his eighth starting position by lap three. On a lap 10 restart, following a caution for debris, Tagliani again mounted a fierce charge against Barron, until the yellow flag flew again on lap 12 for David Cutler, of Medina, Wash., who had rolled to a stop in turn eight. He later returned to the race. Barron again maintained his lead on the lap 14 restart, but was passed by Tagliani on the back stretch just before the race was slowed again after Carol Soucy, of Sept-Iles, Que., made nose-to-sidepod contact with Frank Allers, of Coquitlam, B.C., as they entered turn eight. Neither driver was injured. Tagliani held the point when racing resumed on lap 21, while Gidley charged passed Barron for second. Montgomery and Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., passed Barron later in the lap. Anthony Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., hit the outside wall on the exit of turn 11 on lap 21, and rebounded across the track, making heavy contact with the opposite side wall. He then spun to a stop in the middle of the track, causing the yellow flag to wave again. He was not injured. "We made a lot of adjustments after qualifying, and it loosened the car too much," Lazzaro said. "We had a lot of understeer. On the re-starts, it was very slippery, and I kept losing so much time to everybody, because the car was sliding all over the place. I just tried to make up for it on my own, and I got a little over-aggressive with the car and got it sideways coming around that corner. It just tagged the outside wall and ended up knocking the car around." When the green flag flew on lap 25, Tagliani and Gidley engaged in a wheel-to-wheel duel until Gidley secured the lead between turns seven and eight. On the same lap, Sergei Szortyka, of Sinking Spring, Pa., made contact with Cutler and pushed him into the turn three wall, slowing the field once again. Szortyka retired a lap later due to the contact damage. Cutler was uninjured but forced to retire from the race. Gidley maintained his lead under heavy pressure from Tagliani when racing resumed on lap 31. The two drivers battled until caution flew on lap 33 after Harrington lost control on the backstretch and hit the wall head-on and spun down the track into the tire wall. He was transported to St. Michael’s Hospital where he was examined and released with no apparent major injuries. Gidley led Tagliani and Montgomery to the checkered flag under caution. Joao Barbosa, of Valongo, Portugal, and Auberlen trailed them. "I'm a little disappointed with third position, but it's a lot better than fourth," said Montgomery. "Since we had bad weekends at Long Beach, Milwaukee and Montreal, I really need to win to get back up the point system. But the race ended under yellow before I could see if I could get past Alex and Memo. My hat's off to them.... they were having a great show. I was hoping they might get together, or go outside, because I was just sitting in the catbird's seat, waiting for my chance." Gidley took home $20,000 of the $85,000 posted purse. Gidley was awarded a $1,000 bonus for winning the "KOOL Move of the Race" and $1,000 for winning the "Yokohama Now You've Got Control." He also earned the $1,000 "KOOL Rookie Challenge" award. Tagliani won the "MCI Fast Pace Award" for running the quickest laps of the race with a speed of 90.502 mph. Barron continues to lead the point battle with 86. Gidley's victory moved him up to second with 80. Godin drops to third with 78. Montgomery moved up a spot to fourth with 68. Tagliani jumps up to fifth with 66 points. James Irvin, of South Miami, Fla. was the race winner in the C2 class. Joaquin DeSoto, of Miami, Fla., continues to lead the C2 class standing 104-72 over Irvin. Round six of the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship will be aired on ESPN2, Saturday, July 26, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. RDS (French) will telecast the race on Monday, July 28, between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. while CTV's telecast will be broadcast at 4:00 p.m. ET Saturday, July 26.
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