July 22, 2000, Brooklyn Michigan: Substitute driver Memo Gidley ran the fastest laps of his career in this morning's practice, but a blown engine late in the session forced him to qualify in his backup car without the benefit of Toyota's ...
July 22, 2000, Brooklyn Michigan: Substitute driver Memo Gidley ran the fastest laps of his career in this morning's practice, but a blown engine late in the session forced him to qualify in his backup car without the benefit of Toyota's single-sided-turbo qualifying motor. The Della Penna team successfully transferred Gidley's chassis setup to the backup car, but the lower horsepower of the non-optimized race motor permitted a qualifying speed of only 224.628 miles per hour, good enough for 20th position.
Gidley's fastest lap in the morning practice was clocked at 233.010 which placed him in P10 at the time his Toyota engine blew. As he coasted onto pit lane, the young American driver told his team that the car was a "rocket ship," and the Della Penna crew worked feverishly in the ensuing two hours to install another qualifying motor in the #10 Direct-TV Toyota-Reynard-Firestone.
Toyota has been running a special single-sided-turbo engine this weekend for qualifying, which produces at least ten additional horsepower. Unfortunately Gidley's backup car had a standard race motor with a double-sided turbo system that had not been boost-calibrated with the pop-off valve. Although frustrated by the lack of qualifying horsepower, Gidley enters tomorrow's race with a high level of confidence in the speed and stability of his race car.
"The car is a lot better than it was yesterday- literally a night and day difference," explained Gidley. "It's fast, I can run in traffic, and I can race it. I ran with a lot of people this morning, trying different lines. I think people were a little surprised, they saw the red car and either thought they could pull up and pass me or they were going to pull away. Neither of those things happened, and [my competitors] were a little stunned at that. It was a good moment for the team."
In pursuit of a full-time ride for the 2001 season, Gidley is eager to have the benefits of an ongoing relationship with a team. "I'm ready to get into a situation where I am with a team all year long and we can work together during a full schedule of testing."
"For example, this Della Penna team is capable of an excellent result," Gidley continued. "Remember, this team has never tested the 2000 car at Michigan Speedway. This weekend we developed a setup in two-and-a-half hours of track time that put us top-ten during this morning's practice. So if we could have rolled off the trailer with that baseline we would be so much farther ahead."