(HOMESTEAD, Fla.) Mar. 25, 2000 -Nilton Rossoni likes the Homestead-Miami Speedway -a lot. In the three times he has raced here, he's twice been atop the victory podium. He had to go backwards, however, before passing Jon Fogarty for the...
(HOMESTEAD, Fla.) Mar. 25, 2000 -Nilton Rossoni likes the Homestead-Miami Speedway -a lot. In the three times he has raced here, he's twice been atop the victory podium.
He had to go backwards, however, before passing Jon Fogarty for the lead on lap-42. After starting fourth, he dropped back to sixth and was in eighth just before half distance, after making slight contact with Sepp Koster, losing his nose cover in the process. It appeared to spell the end of his race, but rather than throw in the towel, he methodically went about cutting his losses.
"The key for me was passing Sperafico," said the Curitiba, Brazil native. "After losing the nose cover, I just had to refocus and break the draft."
Regain focus, he did. From lap 18 of the 49, Rossoni took no prisoners on his way to the lead. At an average of every three laps, the former Formula Chevrolet Brazil race winner regained a position, and was visibly the fastest car on the track. That fact he verified on lap 47, setting the fastest lap of the race at 0:43.129 for an average speed of 117.860 mph around the 1.412-mile modified oval.
Jon Fogarty led 39-laps, the most of the three race leaders. Unfortunately for Fogarty, he yet again came up short. After passing pole-sitter Andre Nicastro on lap 2, Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Ca. inched away from the field lap by lap. By lap 27, his gap over then second-place driver Peter Boss was 3.752 sec., the largest it would ever be. Lurking in the shadows was a flying Rossoni. On lap 32, Rossoni passed Boss to find himself 2.9 sec. behind Fogarty. The next time around, the gap was 1.09 sec.
Then the pair came upon some backmarkers and Rossoni made his move.
"Everything was going well, until I caught up to slower traffic," Fogarty remarked. "Nilton got by the backmarkers and I didn't. From there the draft was broken, and I ran out of laps just as we were catching traffic again."
Series debutante Andy Lally scored the last podium spot. Lally had been fast all weekend, claiming to be at ease with both the Barber Dodge Reynard 98E and the Homestead track. He came in to the event with his own expectations, but certainly not with the pressure of those with plans to race the full season. Might those plans have changed following this result?
"When my sponsor T-One, Inc. saw what I can do, they signed on for one more race (probably the next round at Nazareth)," said an enthusiastic Lally. "I didn't even know I was going to be running here until this last Wednesday. Everything just clicked for me. The crew, the coaches, and everybody was just great. I'm happy to be here."
There were many other exciting battles all through the field as cars were often three and four wide down the straights and into the corners. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the biggest mover through the field moving up to eighth from his 16th starting spot. Matt Plumb was also on the move as he dashed up to fourth after beginning ninth.