Long Beach: Finlay Motorsports No. 19 race report

LONG DAY AT LONG BEACH LONG BEACH, CA (April 8, 2006) -- The unthinkable happened earlier today on the streets of Long Beach -- a true Cinderella Story. During the morning warm up for the inaugural running of the Crown Royal Grand American ...

LONG DAY AT LONG BEACH LONG BEACH, CA (April 8, 2006) -- The unthinkable happened earlier today on the streets of Long Beach -- a true Cinderella Story. During the morning warm up for the inaugural running of the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge, Memo Gidley was behind the wheel of the No. 19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms machine when a mechanical failure sent him into to the tire barriers in Turn 1. Gidley was taken to St. Mary's Hospital and suffered injuries to the lower back but was released before the start of the race.

The team plans on flying him to Indianapolis on Monday morning to be further evaluated by Doctor Terry Trammell. "Memo is in good spirits and relaxing in his hotel room," said Steve Cameron. He did suffer some injuries to his lower back so we're going to take him to Indianapolis and get to work on a rehabilitation program."

Meanwhile back at the track, the crew of the No. 19 machine went to work doing the unthinkable. They literally stripped the chassis down to the bare minimum and completely rebuilt it within five and a half hours. Alex Barron, who raced with the team at the Daytona 24 Hour race earlier this year happened to be competing in the Atlantic race this weekend and graciously agreed to drive with Michael McDowell.

"It was a lot of fun working with these guys again," said Alex Barron. "When I walked over to the paddock area and saw the amount of work that had to be done it's amazing what these guys accomplished. I'm just glad I could help out and I hope my good friend Memo has a quick recovery."

With time running out, the crew of the No. 19 Ford-powered Crawford fired up the engine and Michael McDowell drove through the Paddock gates and onto the 1.97-mile street circuit. Although the crew did an awesome job getting the car into race contention, Grand Am rules require all cars to take at least one parade lap. That being said McDowell and company was forced to start the 90-minute race from the 26th position.

"We really have to thank Grand Am for helping us out today," said Cameron. "If it weren't for them keeping the gates open for us we wouldn't have been able to start the race."

The drama continued to unfold when McDowell returned to the pit lane shortly after the start of the race with a problem on the rear wheel. The machine quickly returned to the track and rejoined the battle. Alex Barron climbed in the machine on the second full course yellow fulfilling the Grand Am required driver change. The team's plan was to keep Barron in the car until the next full course yellow and put McDowell back in for the finish of the race. McDowell did indeed finish the race, crossing the finish line in the 21st position.

"The crew did a great job getting the car back together after the crash this morning," said McDowell. "I hope Memo is doing well and can't wait for him to get back in the Championship hunt with me."

The team's next race will be in two weeks at Virginia International Raceway.

-fm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Memo Gidley , Alex Barron , Michael McDowell , Steve Cameron