It was hard to tell who was the happiest driver following Sunday's Toyota Atlantic Championship race in Denver, as rookie Ronnie Bremer earned his first-ever Atlantic victory, and Ryan Dalziel closed to within one point of the series lead with two races remaining after taking the runner-up spot.

Bremer, Dalziel and Atlantic point leader Jon Fogarty battled it out on the 1.657-mile street circuit and, as the race hit its home stretch, the fight got rather heated. Fogarty, who started on the pole and led the majority of the event, found himself desperately trying to fight off both Dalziel and Bremer late on and, on lap 32, made a defensive move in turn nine when both pursuers got a run on him. Race officials determined that the move was an illegal block and flagged Fogarty for a drive-though penalty, allowing both Bremer and Dalziel to take advantage of the infraction.

Bremer seized the lead and held off his Scottish rival to win by 1.283secs, while Dalziel earned enough points to draw to within one of Fogarty in the title race.

"We were struggling a little when we came into the first qualifying and, in the second session, we spent too much trying to change some things on the car in the pits," Bremer reported, "We only got a few laps to improve my times, but not enough.

"Polestar did an awesome job this weekend. It's been a hard season for me, running for different teams, leading the championship early on, then falling down to sixth and struggling to get back up there. I was the first rookie to win a race this year and maybe I was a little lucky but I still felt I had the car to do it."

The result concluded a turbulent week for the Dalziel. He and his Sierra Sierra Enterprises team were penalised for a shock absorber part that was out of compliance with series specifications following his win at Road America last week. Dalziel was docked five championship points and the team fined $15,000 for the violation but, after Sierra Sierra protested the infraction, a panel of judges overturned the ruling and the points and money were reinstated.

"It's been a week-long struggle," Dalziel admitted, "We just wanted to come here and focus on the race. We were quickest on Friday, when we had a good car, but we kind of lost our way a little bit with the track conditions in qualifying.

"In the race, we had the car to win. Jon broke the rules. He blocked me and justice was served. [The result] is not great as far as the championship goes for him, but
absolutely awesome for me. We've had a great car all year, but we've had bad luck. That's why we've been chasing Jon the past few races. We proved all weekend that despite the questions people may have about our car, we weren't cheating and our car is still the fastest car."

Bremer's victory also enabled him to reclaim the lead in the competitive BG Products Rookie of the Year chase. Bremer and Andrew Ranger have see-sawed back and forth for the rookie lead all season, and the Dane now holds a two-point advantage in the competition.

With Fogarty dropped down the order by his penalty, the final podium spot was up for grabs. After battling tooth-and-nail with Ranger for much of the race, American Bryan Sellers brought his Lynx Racing entry home for its third podium of the season, and the driver's top result since his career-best second-place effort at Cleveland in round six. Ranger, who started seventh on the day and aggressively moved up the order early, came in fourth.

"We struggled in the first practice and the first qualifying, and made a decision to go with a different car for the second day," Sellers revealed, "It was the same car we had in Vancouver but, unfortunately, we were already behind Jon and Ryan at that point. We turned our best laps of the weekend in the race, but we're happy anyway."

Sellers' result was also some reward for his battle with a back in jury that had bothered him since last weekend at Road America.

"I spent all of Thursday in the hospital," he admitted, "I need to fly out straight from here to go home to California and get some MRIs done. It didn't seem to be much of an issue until the last ten laps today. My back really started to cramp up and the last seven laps my leg started to get numb. I'm glad we finished third. It's a great result for the team."

Danica Patrick carded the fastest lap of the race around Denver's Pepsi Centre, and crossed the finish line in fifth place for her ninth top-five result in ten races this season.

After the drive-through penalty, Fogarty managed a sixth-place finish - his worst since a sixth-place result in round two in Mexico. Rookie Chris Festa took seventh place but, after starting second behind team-mate Fogarty, Alex Figge struggled at the start of the race before recovering to finish eighth in the rundown. Despite seeing his chances of victory removed, and his championship lead diminished, Fogarty was surprisingly candid about his penalty.

"Plain and simple, I broke the rules and I acknowledge that and served a penalty for it," he said, "But I think it's an absurd rule and I don't know why the series has this rule. I'm a fair racer. Ryan had the opportunity to go by me and I didn't squeeze him. That's what racing is all about. I'm fortunate to come away with a slim lead [in the championship], but I shouldn't have to worry about rules like that."

Rookie Josh Hunt was ninth, ahead of fast-rising rookie Al Unser, who recorded his second top-ten result of the year. Unser was perhaps the most exhausted of the Atlantic drivers in the field as he completed a double-header weekend in conjunction with the Infinity Pro Series race in Kentucky on Saturday.

Eric Jensen and Cam Binder completed the order, with Binder bringing home the only C2 class entry of the weekend.