GIDLEY'S DOMINANT VANCOUVER VICTORY VANQUISHES ALL TO NARROW TITLE CHASE AS ATLANTICS RACE TO SEASON FINALE VANCOUVER, B.C. - When the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic champion is crowned September 6 in Monterey, Calif., it will be...
GIDLEY'S DOMINANT VANCOUVER VICTORY VANQUISHES ALL TO NARROW TITLE CHASE AS ATLANTICS RACE TO SEASON FINALE
VANCOUVER, B.C. - When the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic champion is crowned September 6 in Monterey, Calif., it will be a battle of teammates that will determine who will wear the crown.
Lynx Racing driver, Memo Gidley, of San Rafael, Calif., went wire-to-wire to capture his second career KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship and second victory of the season at Concord Palace Place Saturday, August 30, in round 11 of the 12-race season. Gidley's teammate and points leader, Alex Barron, of Vista, Calif., who finished third behind Steve Knapp, of Salem, Wis., lost ground to Gidley in the points battle but maintains a 20-point lead, 156-136. As the series heads into the final round, the two Lynx Racing teammates are the only drivers that can capture the Atlantic championship.
Gidley, who set a new track record of 96.044 in qualifying, toured the 10-turn street circuit in the Lynx Racing Ralt RT-41 at an average speed of 64.714 mph. He crossed the finish line 1.731-seconds ahead of Knapp.
"I feel like I graduated from school today," said Gidley "I've been learning like mad all season, and now it's all coming together. My car was working well and hooking up well, but so were the other two guys, so I didn't have one instant to relax. The Lynx team gave me a great car and Paul Hasselgren gave me a great engine. I'm happy to go to the final race knowing that either Alex or I will be the champion."
Gidley took the green light of the Atlantic standing start and led the field through turn one. Meanwhile, Michael David, of Corona, Calif., was unable to pull away to from the start due to transmission troubles and was struck from behind by Jeret Schroeder, of Vineland, N.J., bringing out a caution flag. Both drivers were uninjured but they were unable to continue in the race. Anthony Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., and Joao Barbosa, of Portugal, also made contact on the start. Lazzaro continued and Barbosa required repairs before continuing.
When racing resumed on lap three, Gidley pulled safely away from Knapp and Barron, who engaged in a fierce battle for second. If Barron could secure the spot, he would assure himself of the Atlantic championship, succeeding PPG CART driver Patrick Carpentier, who won the title last year for Lynx Racing. However, Knapp, having his best weekend of the season after starting on the outside pole, defended his position for much of the going before Barron eased the pressure.
"My car was really good, but it's hard to pass here and I couldn't seem to get by," said Barron. "I'm pretty pleased at what happened. We'll go into Laguna like it's just another race and go for it. The team gave me a great car but I decided that if I couldn't get by safely, I'd settle for third which goes against my grain, but that's what had to be done."
The only other caution of the day came when Bill Tichenor, of Dallas, Texas, spun to a stop in turn seven on lap six. Gidley took home $20,000 of the $85,000 posted purse and earned the $1,000 "KOOL Rookie Challenge" award. Barron was awarded the $1,000 "MCI Fast Pace Award" for running the quickest lap of the race with a speed of 95.728 mph.
Case Montgomery, of Salinas, Calif., 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."
Bertrand Godin, of St. Hyacinthe, Que., stays in third place with 119 points. Alexandre Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., is fourth with 109, followed by Barbosa with 94 points.
Frank Allers, of Coquitlam, B.C. was the race winner in the C2 class and Jimmy Pugliese, of Oceanside, N.Y. was second.
ESPN2 will broadcast the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race, Sunday, September 7, from 11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. ET.
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