NA-F2000: Andy Lally Road Atlanta Race Review

BRASELTON, Ga., July 26 - Andy Lally is on a roll. A week after posting a pro victory in a Motorola Cup race in Canada, the young Northport, N.Y. driver drove an entirely different car in an entirely different series to victory.

BRASELTON, Ga., July 26 - Andy Lally is on a roll. A week after posting a pro victory in a Motorola Cup race in Canada, the young Northport, N.Y. driver drove an entirely different car in an entirely different series to victory. This time he took the checkered in U.S. Formula 2000 competition at Road Atlanta Saturday afternoon. What's more, he was behind the wheel of a car he'd never driven before, giving Brian Utt's Carbir U.S. Formula 2000 chassis its first victory ever. It was by far that chassis's best showing to date. The marque's previous best finish was a tenth by Galen Puccini last month at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The arrangement for Lally to drive the car at Road Atlanta was finalized just eight days before Saturday's race. Lally, one of America's most promising young drivers, has already developed a sterling reputation as a developmental driver who is able to communicate well to his engineers in addition to driving fast. He gave the new Bowman chassis its best finishes last year in U.S. Formula 2000 competition enroute to a fourth-place finish overall in the 1998 championship. "We came so close to winning with the Bowman last year, and to win one in the Carbir against all those Van Diemens my first time out in it is more than satisfying," Lally said. "I had a good feeling going into the race on Saturday, and I'm thrilled that feeling wasn't wrong." Lally qualified tenth. Before the race he thought he might get a top-five finish, but he became even more optimistic when rain started to fall at the half-way point. "As soon as the rain started I knew I could go for the lead," he said. "I love the rain. It equalizes everything and it all comes down to driver skill. "Winning was absolutely incredible. I couldn't believe it at first. I always dreamed of doing it just the way it happened, in the rain like that, coming from tenth all the way up to first." The rain began on lap 10 of the 20-lap, 50-mile event. Lally took the lead from T.J. Bell on lap 17 just before the course went yellow for two separate incidents. The event ended under caution. Bell finished second and Marc-Antoine Camirand was third. Early leader Mark Dismore and his teammate, Daniel Muniz, rounded out the top five in the 26-car field. Saturday's race was part of a doubleheader. Lally qualified eighth and finished a solid fifth on Sunday. Aaron Justus won Sunday's race over Camirand, Dismore, Muniz and Lally. Lally's qualifying runs of tenth and eighth at Road Atlanta were also better than the Carbir's previous qualifying results. Prior to last weekend its best runs in qualifying were two 14ths by Jeff Glenn at Mid-Ohio in June and at the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway in March. Utt, the Carbir chassis's commercial director, was very impressed with Lally's performance, and Lally was impressed with the car and the Carbir team. "The Carbir is a car with a lot of potential that is already very fast," he added. "In the one weekend that I've driven it we've done a good bit of development on it, and there's more to come. The best part about the car is that it has no particular flaw. We just need a tiny bit of development and we'll be right there, all over the Van Diemens." The Road Atlanta races are scheduled to be broadcast on Speedvision in a one-hour show beginning at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13. Lally will also compete in the Carbir next weekend (July 30-Aug. 1) at the Trois-Rivieres Street Circuit in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada. Lally has nothing in place for next season, but he is hoping that his accomplishments will interest potential sponsors and team owners.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Mark Dismore , Marc-Antoine Camirand , T.J. Bell , Andy Lally , Aaron Justus , Galen Puccini