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TA: Dalziel takes fourth win

9 August 2004

Ryan Dalziel is hitting his stride at exactly the right time in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

After setting new Atlantic course qualifying records at Road America on both Friday and Saturday, the 22-year-old Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver completed his mission Sunday, leading wire-to-wire on the 4.048-mile fabled road course for his third victory in the last four races.

The impressive performance enabled Dalziel to close the gap in the series championship hunt as he now trails current point leader Jon Fogarty by just six points with three races remaining.

Dalziel captured his fourth win of the season to tie Fogarty for the series lead in victories. The result was the Scottish ace's fifth podium finish of the year. Over his three-year Atlantic career, Dalziel has recorded 17 podiums in 33 starts.

Fogarty started second on the day and finished in the same order, but he never seriously threatened Dalziel for the lead as the young Scot won by 1.026 seconds. The finish marked the sixth podium of the season for Fogarty, the 2002 series champion.

While there wasn't a lot of action up front with the race leaders, there were plenty of wheel-to-wheel tangles in positions 3-6 throughout the 17-lap race.

Starting third, Andrew Ranger battled Danica Patrick, Ronnie Bremer and Tonis Kasemets for position from the outset.

After Bremer fought by fellow rookie Ranger early on for third place, Patrick and Ranger engaged in a heated battle on the fourth lap, which resulted in Ranger going off course in Turn 9 before returning to the track. Three laps later, Bremer, Patrick and Kasemets raced three-wide into Turn 1 battling for the third position and Kasemets emerged as the winner of that encounter.

Kasemets enjoyed a great weekend, running among the top five in most sessions. After starting seventh, the Estonian rookie ran in third place for a good portion of the race and set a new Atlantic course record for the fastest race lap.

Ranger fought back from his early off-road experience and passed Patrick for fourth place on Lap 11. Shortly after that pass, Bremer, running in fifth place, went off course and hit the gravel trap in Turn 14, flipping his car in a spectacular crash. Fortunately, the Danish rookie was uninjured in the accident, but he was forced to retire due to the damage.

With one lap remaining, Kasemets was running in third place but went wide in Turn 3, allowing both Ranger and Patrick to get by. Ranger wound up finishing third for his fifth podium result of the season. The 17-year-old racer also reclaimed the lead in the race for the $10,000 BG Products Rookie of the Year award, as he now leads Bremer in the battle for top series freshman by 10 points.

Patrick earned a fourth-place finish and remains in the thick of the championship hunt - sitting third with 209 points - 30 behind Fogarty, the series leader.

Kasemets earned his top series finish, coming in fifth place in just his fifth race. The rookie, who lives in nearby Mundelein, Illinois, used his Formula Ford racing experience at Road America to produce his best Atlantic result.

American Bryan Sellers improved two positions from his eighth-place starting spot to finish sixth. After spinning on his second lap and making contact with Alex Figge, rookie Josh Hunt rebounded to finish seventh. The result was an Atlantic best for the Australian teenager. Figge, who started fifth, saw his race come to an end as a result of the contact.

Another series freshman, Chris Festa, finished eighth for the second time in three events, while Al Unser brought home a ninth-place result in his first series action since the opening race of the year in Long Beach.

Eric Jensen earned his third top-10 result of the season in 10th place and the two C2-class entries of the weekend – Tony Loniewski and Cam Binder – were 11th and 12th, respectively, in the rundown.

The Toyota Atlantic Championship gets right back into action next weekend with Round 10 on the series calendar – the Argent Mortgage Grand Prix of Denver Presented by Yokohama.




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