*It wasn't exactly an easy Sunday drive for Tonis Kasemets at Road America, but the second-year racer in the Toyota Atlantic Championship completed his weekend domination at the classic road circuit, leading all 17 laps en route to his third victory of the season.
Kasemets, who hails from Estonia but now lives just a couple hours away from Road America in Mundelein, Illinois, had to fight off a strong challenge from series rookie standout Katherine Legge in the early stages of the race, before settling in for an impressive victory in the BOSPoker.com Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Road America.
The result was the best possible scenario that Kasemets could've hoped for at his home course, where he's won several events in SCCA competition and finished fifth for his best Atlantic placement in his rookie season of 2004. Combined with a sixth place finish by series leader Charles Zwolsman, Kasemets' win vaulted him from third to second in the series standings as he prevented Zwolsman from wrapping up the Atlantic championship.
In the battle for the '05 crown, Zwolsman will carry a 26-point lead, 287-261, into next weekend's season finale in Montreal. Kasemets is the only driver with a shot to catch Zwolsman in the title chase as all other competitors were eliminated from contention with Sunday's results.
Legge has become known for her aggressive starts in her first Atlantic season and she didn't waste any time making her presence felt at the green flag of Sunday's race. The three-time series winner jumped from her third-place starting spot past Kasemets for the lead in turn one.
Kasemets, who was dominant all weekend long as he easily led both rounds of qualifying while securing his third series pole, was not about to back down. After suffering through bad finishes in the last three races while running at the front of the pack, the 31-year-old racer made sure that this one wasn't going to slip away. He battled Legge wheel-to-wheel throughout the first lap, capturing the lead for good at the start/finish line. From there, Kasemets kept a comfortable lead and wound up beating Legge to the chequered flag by 2.548 seconds.