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Watkins Glen October Coverage:
F2000 Race 1
Connery Makes Last Lap Pass for Win

Watkins Glen, N.Y., October 16 In a race that took a day to complete involving a race winner who has been suspended for aggressive driving, it was patience which enabled Kyle Connery (11th in the American Driver Ranking) to win the first F2000 Championship Series race at Watkins Glen.

Kyle Connery Leads on Last Lap Image Kyle Connery (91) only led the last lap to win the first Watkins Glen F2000 race.

"From the start, I had to be a little patient and let Tim [Minor] by me," Connery said. "Unfortunately, I got boxed in going up the hill but just started picking them off one by one. Took my time and tried to be really patient and pull off clean passes and we were able to do so."

Connery started second, outside of series champion, Remy Audette. Behind them were Tim Minor and Chris Livengood (ranked 10th), respectively. Minor got the jump on everyone at the start, grabbing the lead over Audette, Connery, and Livengood.

Livengood grabbed third on the second lap and got Audette the next time around going into the Inner Loop or Bus Stop chicane. Shortly afterward, a full course yellow came out.

For some reason, officials said Livengood, as well as Connery, passed Audette after the yellow flags came out. However, most observers clearly indicated the pass came long before the corner workers held up the double yellows. The officials forced both drivers to give up their spots to Audette, moving the French Canadian driver back to second.

"The start went just about as planned -- no crashes," Livengood said. "I had a good dice with Remy. I was able to get by him. Was up to second when the full course came out. They made me give Remy his spot back because they said I passed him before the full course yellow."

Chris Livengood in Action Image Chris Livengood fought with the leaders, but fell back to a fourth place finish.

At the restart, the top four continued to battle hard. Livengood tried a couple of times to get past Audette, finally succeeding, moving to second on the eighth lap. However, two laps later, he fell back to fourth, allowing Connery to grab second.

"Again battled Remy hard," Livengood said. "Started chasing Tim and just kind of overdid it in Turn 1. And I fell to where I finished -- fourth."

Now, it was Connery who took up the battle for the lead on the 10th lap. Minor had a small gap, but Connery quickly closed it, riding his tail entering the final lap. Down the back straight, Connery pulled out to pass, and dove in deep under braking for the Inner Loop.

"I saw the one to go," he said. "I got a good run out of One on Tim and coming down the back straightaway, I knew I had to take the shot then because I didn't have him anywhere else. He was really gentlemanly about it and gave me enough room. I was able to just go a little bit deeper than him and pull off the pass in the Bus Stop and managed to gap myself a little bit to hold him off the rest of the lap, so we didn't have to take any chances."

Minor, who led every lap but the last, had to settle for second, followed by Audette and Livengood.

"A great comeback for the team," Connery said after a horrible weekend at Lime Rock, where the team did not turn a single race lap.

The first attempt to start the race on Saturday involved a serious crash before the green flag. Tom Fatur, starting last due to breaking in qualifying, tried to get a jump on the field rounding the final corner. However, the rainy, wet conditions caused him to spin and smash into the sand barriers protecting the end of pit wall, scattering sand all over the track. The time needed to repair the damage forced the organizers to void the start.

They decided to run the race on Sunday morning in the slot reserved for qualifying. The fast times for the morning race determined the starting grid for Race 2 in the afternoon. That starting grid once again had Audette and Connery on the front row in the same order, as well as the same order for the second row with Minor and Livengood.

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Copyright © 2011 by Russell Jaslow and American Driver Ranking. All Rights Reserved.

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