CHAMPCAR/CART: Gidley Subs for Fontana at Michigan

Indianapolis, Ind. (July 17, 2000) - American Memo Gidley will pilot Della Penna Motorsports' ...

Indianapolis, Ind. (July 17, 2000) - American Memo Gidley will pilot Della Penna Motorsports' #10 DIRECTV Toyota/Reynard Champ Car in this weekend's Michigan 500 presented by Toyota sitting in for regular driver, Argentine rookie Norberto Fontana.

Gidley, who is a graduate of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series, will make his 14th Champ Car start this weekend with Della Penna Motorsports after contesting races for Walker Racing, Payton Coyne and Player's/Forsythe Racing over the last two years.

"We were scheduled to test Norberto at Michigan Speedway, but we weren't able to go there because he was still recovering from his incident in Japan a week earlier," Della Penna explained. "Due to the race schedule, we weren't able to reschedule the test. Norberto and I discussed the upcoming super speedway race and decided it was better to put someone else in the car. Norberto is completely unfamiliar with racing on a two-mile super speedway and is still getting accustomed to ovals."

Fontana, who circuited an oval for the first time in early March, was sidelined for four weeks recovering from heavy contact in a May 12 incident at Motegi, Japan.

"John and I decided it was better to put Memo in the car for this race," Fontana said. "I have no experience on this type of track and it's unrealistic to think that I could learn the track and set up a competitive car in my first weekend outing. Memo has more Champ Car experience than I do and I think he'll do a good job for the team."

Memo Gidley, who substituted for Naoki Hattori at Walker Racing last season and Patrick Carpentier at Player's earlier this year, tested with Della Penna Motorsports for one day during the CART open test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June.

"Memo did an excellent job for Players earlier in the year and he was very helpful to us at the Mid-Ohio open test in June," Della Penna continued. "He's proven his skills on the ovals and I think together we can produce a good result for the team this weekend."

Gidley posted a CART career-best finish of eighth at the Rio 200 in Rio de Janeiro (April 30, 2000) where he started an impressive 11th. While the Michigan 500 will mark Gidley's first super speedway start, he gained valuable experience during the month of May driving for Team Pelfrey at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gidley blazed through his rookie test in just 71 minutes and completed over 800 miles of testing, more than any other driver during the month, in preparation for qualifying.

"It's great to have the opportunity to get out and drive again," Gidley said. "I welcome the experience to work with a new team, engineer and personnel. As far as driving on a super speedway, it's great for me. I love the fast turns. While it's not easy to get a car set up on an oval, I enjoy the challenge and think it's going to be a lot of fun."

The Michigan 500 present by Toyota airs live Sunday, July 23 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.

- DPM -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Naoki Hattori , Norberto Fontana