NA-F2000: Charlotte Andy Lally race notes

Lally Makes Everyone Sit Up and Take Notice Of Both Himself and the Bowman BC5 on Saturday HARRISBURG, N.C., July 25 - Andy Lally continued to make everyone stand up and notice both his driving abilities and...

Lally Makes Everyone Sit Up and Take Notice Of Both Himself and the Bowman BC5 on Saturday

HARRISBURG, N.C., July 25 - Andy Lally continued to make everyone stand up and notice both his driving abilities and the new Bowman BC5 chassis Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as he recorded a second phenomenal drive in 24 hours during the U.S. Formula 2000 portion of the VisionAire 500k weekend.

The Northport, N.Y. star started second and led four different times for eight circuits of the 30-lap contest on CMS's 1.6-mile modified oval. He was never further back than fifth and he made some incredible passes both inside and outside going into the chicane in turn one, impressing both the crowd and the Indy Racing League team owners on hand.

Near the end of the race the eventual winner, Ryan Hampton, and the runner-up, Robby McGehee, were able to team up with their Tatuuses and put a little space between themselves and Lally. A podium finish still looked like it was in the cards for the Highcroft team, but on the white-flag lap the belt on the oil pump broke, causing the engine to blow. Lally ended up 21st in the final rundown.

What everyone will remember, however, is the great job Lally did in the race and how strong the Bowman was even though it's a brand-new chassis this year in F2000 competition.

After starting second Lally dropped to third on the initial start but he took the lead on the backstretch to lead lap one and two. The leaders were three-deep in turn three on lap three and Lally slipped back to third, where he stayed through lap six. He made a sling-shot back into the lead from third on lap seven, and he held the top spot again through lap nine. Hampton got the lead on lap 10. At that point there was a seven-car draft for the top spot and Lally slipped back to fourth on lap 11. He moved back into third on lap 12, and on the next circuit the race's only yellow flew. Unfortunately, Lally's teammate, Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y., was involved.

The green came back out on lap 17. Lally charged under Hampton for second on the frontstretch and by McGehee for the lead on the backstretch on lap 18. Hampton locked up his brakes in the chicane on lap 19 but he slipped by Lally on that lap. Lally slipped under Hampton for the lead going into the chicane on lap 19 and 20 but Hampton powered back by him on the backstretch to actually lead those laps. The draft turned on Lally on lap 21 and he slipped back to fifth, but he charged back into fourth on the next circuit.

Lap 23 was really a stellar one for Lally fans. Up to that point everyone knew he was strong on the inside heading into the chicane, but on that circuit he surprised everybody and perhaps even himself by flying by McGehee on the outside on the frontstretch to regain the lead. He held the top spot on lap 24 too, but the Tatuuses pushed him back to third on lap 25. He stayed in that spot until the belt fell off with 28 laps of 30 complete.

Dayton would have had two good finishes here this weekend if the other drivers would quit crawling up on his Bowman. After Saturday's race there were tire marks from Jonathan Bottoms' car stretching from the bottom of the sidepod on the left side and up to the top of the engine cowling. Luckily he wasn't hurt and both Dayton and the Highcroft team are keeping their great sense of humor through it all, as one of the crewmembers scrawled a "No Parking" notice in chalk on the side of the car in the garage area after the race.

Dayton started 14th, dropped to 18th on lap six and had charged back up to 12th a third of the way through the event. He was 13th with a dozen laps in the books but he and Bottoms tangled going into the chicane at that point and his official order of finish went down as 25th.

Dayton's finishes certainly don't show how fast he was running. His fastest lap in Saturday's race was actually faster than Lally's fastest lap of the race, as he turned a circuit at an average speed of 133.75 mph. Dayton was one of only five drivers in Saturday's race to exceed the existing track record for the fastest lap during the race. He had the fifth-fastest lap overall and Lally had the sixth-fastest lap at an average speed of 133.624 mph.

The top 10 were Hampton, McGehee, Sam Hornish Jr., David Besnard, Bobby Oergel, Steve Rikert, Marc-Antoine Camirand, Tim Duit, Mike Johnson and Alejandro Garcia.

Lally leaves Charlotte fourth in the overall national point standings with four races remaining. Dayton is 21st.

Saturday's race will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 30.

The team's next event is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Lally Is Second-Fastest in Time Trials

HARRISBURG, N.C., July 25 - Andy Lally recorded his best qualifying run of the season to date in U.S. Formula 2000 competition Saturday afternoon by earning the second starting spot for the F2000 race later today at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It duplicated Lally's best qualifying effort ever in U.S. F2000 competition, as he also qualified second last year at the 1997 season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway in Florida.

Lally's lap was at an average speed of 130.78 mph, while polesitter Ryan Hampton did a circuit at 130.99 mph.

Duncan Dayton will start 14th by virtue of his lap at 128.69 mph.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Robby McGehee , Marc-Antoine Camirand , Andy Lally , David Besnard , Ryan Hampton , Mike Johnson , Sam Hornish Jr.