Lally Finishes Third with a Little Help from His Friends CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 30 - It was a night of ups and downs for Northport, N.Y.'s Andy Lally and the Highcroft Racing team at Lowe's Motor Speedway Friday, but in the end...
Lally Finishes Third with a Little Help from His Friends
CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 30 - It was a night of ups and downs for Northport, N.Y.'s Andy Lally and the Highcroft Racing team at Lowe's Motor Speedway Friday, but in the end Lally and his Bowman were on the podium in a crash-marred U.S. Formula 2000 race.
Lally led six of the 30 laps, took the yellow and the checkered flag simultaneously in fourth place, and ended up third in the final standings because the finishing order reverted back to the last green-flag lap. That was actually lap 28. Dan Wheldon ended up the victor in a Van Diemen followed by Ian Lacy in a Mygale. Lally was behind the wheel of the only Bowman in the 32-car field, so his Bowman made the third different chassis in the top three. Bobby Oergel was fourth in another Mygale. T.J. Bell finished fifth in another Van Diemen and Tommy Constantine was sixth in a Tatuus. The Van Diemens of Mark Dismore, Marc-Antoine Camirand, Steve Rikert and Daniel Muniz rounded out the top 10.
The drama started early when most of practice was rained out Thursday and Friday. Qualifying, which was done road-racing style rather than with traditional time trials, was shortened to make it even more pressure-filled. Lally had just recorded a very fast lap on the 1.6-mile course, which included a chicane at the end of the frontstretch, when Guy Cosmo's car developed a problem and he slowed drastically in front of him in turn one. The pair collided, wiping out the front corner of Lally's Bowman.
Lally's fastest lap was good enough for second to Wheldon's pole position, but the car left the track dangling up high from the back of a wrecker and minus its left front. Luckily Lally was unhurt, but there was only about an hour between the end of qualifying and the race.
The story took yet another turn when just about everyone in the F2000 pit area jumped in to help Lally and team members Biff Bascetta and Brendan Cunnane repair the damage.
"Augie Pabst of Pabst Racing Services and his mechanic were one of the first ones to pitch in, as were Marcus Chan of Ryan Hampton's team and Tucker Mertens of Cabrir, who worked with us at Highcroft last year," Lally said. "Phil Creighton of TransAtlantic Racing Services supplied an important part, and we borrowed some tools from Primus Racing. Richard Morgan Racing, Cape Motorsports, DSTP, Yokohama, Archangel, Victor Hertfelder, Don Becker, Quintanilla Racing and Brian Till helped too.
"If I left somebody out I'm sorry, but there were so many people helping that it's hard to name them all," Lally added. "We owe everybody a big thank you; it was great how they all pitched in so we could race."
Lally was able to start second but he slipped to fourth by the end of lap one. There actually were only nine green-flag laps in the 30-lap event. On the third green-flag lap Lally jumped from fifth to second and by lap 12 he was in the lead with a snazzy dash to the inside by Lacy. Another yellow waved right away though, and on the restart on lap 18 Wheldon got the upper hand and was never again headed. Lally ran in second from laps 18 to 27. He dropped to third behind Wheldon and Lacy on the last-green flag lap (lap 28), and that's the way the official rundown read a few minutes and one more crash later.
"It was intense; it was the usual Charlotte chaos," Lally summarized. "I tried desperately to take the lead at the end and hold them off, but the caution came out and shortened the race up. It was a total replay of last year."
Lally said he had no qualms about charging at the start despite track temperatures in the fifties, cold tires and a car that hadn't been shaken down after a major repair job. "I had all the faith in the world in Biff and Brendan, and the car was as good in the race as it was in qualifying," Lally said. "This was definitely a team effort. I wanted to win and I thought I'd either win or put it in the wall, but in the end I'll take third place and be grateful."
The second half of the doubleheader is slated for 5:45 p.m. tomorrow, right before the Pep Boys Indy Racing League's VisionAire 500K headliner.