Regionals Rounds 5 & 6, Road America
Tuesday, July 01, 2008 The Midwest and East Regionals were at Road America, a very popular venue for Skip Barber racers. In fact, we had five race groups and, needless to say, lots of great racing…
Despite this being a flag-to-flagger for polesitter Corey Lewis, this started out as a good tussle between Lewis, Thiago Calvet and Freddie Zebede, all three turning laps in the high 2:34s. On lap six, however, Calvet was P2 when he spun and tagged the wall in Turn Seven, leaving Lewis to win with a 9-second MoV over Zebede. Kim Kristian and Michael Furfari were dicing nicely over fourth place (which became a P3 battle with Calvet’s oof), but with a lap to go, Furfari got it wrong in Canada, solidifying third place for Kristian and handing fourth place to Scott Panzer. Michael Melvin rounded out the top five, coming all the way from 14th on the grid.
After a shaky start thanks to two separate two-car incidents in the Kink and Canada on the first lap, we went green at the start of lap three – and saw a great battle between Zebede, Lewis, Kristian and Calvet. Swapping spots lap after lap, it was only decided on the last lap when Calvet made a mistake in Canada and got the car stuck. The mad dash to the finish line saw Zebede nip Lewis by the smallest of margins, .024, who in turn was less than half a second in front of Kristian. M. Furfari had a stellar race, climbing from 13 th on the grid to fourth at the finish, with Jim Norman rounding out the top five. For Zebede, it was his first Race series win, in a well-deserved and exciting fashion to boot!
This race was hard to get started as Ashley Freiberg and Stephen Mayer had issues in T7 and T1, respectively, but when the real racing started to begin lap five we had Dennis Trebing leading Julian Albarracin, Maverick Bartlett and Roberto Dalton, who had rocketed up from a row seven grid position. It was fast, fun, furious fighting. Bartlett grabbed the lead on lap five as Trebing fell to fourth and Dalton went to second, putting Albarracin third. Next lap Albarracing led, Dalton still had P2 and… Brent Milner had joined the fun and was up to third! The next lap saw yet another lead change, as Dalton was P1, Albarracin second, Trebing third, Milner fourth and Bartlett fifth. Now there are two laps to go and there was no break in the action. Dalton kept first, but Trebing and Milner put Albarracing back to fourth, Bartlett hanging back in fifth – with an on-fire Sean Rayhall right on his gearbox. Rayhall had come from DFL after having to pit on the first lap. Now it’s the last lap and Dalton was just in front of Trebing, but Trebing couldn’t find a way by and crossed the line a tenth of a second behind winner Dalton. Behind them, Albarracin barely nipped Milner at the line (by .051), while the Bartlett-Rayhall affair ended in the beach in Canada as they touched and spun off, handing fifth place to Martin Zimmerman. Shew! Heckuva race…
Another terrific barn burner between Trebing, Dalton and Albarracin. There were a bunch of third-to-firsts and first-to-thirds and everything in between, and when it all shook out after this nine-lapper, Albarracin got to the line first, with Dalton and Trebing crossing virtually side by side, Dalto ahead by a mere .014 of a second. But very early in the race, there had been contact – slight though it was – between Dalton and Trebing, so they had time penalties that moved them down to fifth and sixth, respectively. That meant P2 was Bartlett, Rayhall third and Freiberg fourth. And all three had started the race way down the grid.
After one green lap, this race had to be stopped since a world-class thunderstorm came through, wind, lightning and buckets of rain putting a temporary stop to the proceedings. Polesitter Freddie Zebede was the leader, with Court Vernon second and Brian Skinner third, as the cars got red flagged into the pits. When it was safe to go again, we officially went green on lap five. Leader Zebede immediately fell off the road in One so Vernon was the leader. He would make no mistakes over the last five laps as Vernon garnered his first series win. It had gotten a little crazy in the wet conditions, but M. Furfari, Frenchman Julien Gerbi and Zebede recovered from their mistakes and came home second, third and fourth, respectively. Stewart Agreen improved the most spots, starting 14th but rounding out the top five at the checker.
A close and hard-fought race featuring Vernon, Zebede, Gerbi and M. Furfari, this was a great race to watch as the lead officially changed five times over the nine laps. First it was Vernon for two laps, then Zebede for three, Furfari had a turn at the front, then Vernon again, then Gerbi and finally… Zebede went for the lead on the last lap and made it stick, Gerbi a scant .033 behind at the line, with Vernon a tick back in third. M. Furfari had crossed the stripe fourth but a 20-second penalty for blocking moved him back to sixth, so P4 went to Skinner, ahead of Anthony Furfari.
Craig Duerson leapt to the front instantly, leaving a fine battle for second between Quentin Wahl, Dennis Trebing and Roberto Dalton. Mid-race, Trebing took himself out of podium possibilities with a spin and four-off in T5, so the P2 dice was left to Wahl and Dalton (who, BTW, had come from 11th on the grid). Wahl saw Dalton go by on the penultimate lap – maybe on purpose – but snatched P2 back on the last lap, nipping Dalton by .087 of a second. Felipe Stanev had a good run, starting on the sixth row and coming home fourth, while David Montgomery started and finished fifth.
Well, every race weekend will have a race with few position changes and the winner of that award goes to this contest. Duerson led green to checker, Wahl stayed with him for a bit but ended up 2 seconds behind, though he had a real close race with P3 Dalton. Trebing ran fourth the whole time, while fifth was held down for all the laps by Montgomery. The only real excitement was provided by Stanev, who tossed fifth place away on the second lap with a trip into the litter in T5, while Duerson, Wahl and Dalton got black-sticked for a bit too much snakin’ and weavin’…
The purest of rookies (albeit with along karting history), Andretti protйgй Sage Karem qualified on pole then sped off into the distance. What he left in his wake was a terrific three-way dice between Mikhail Goikhberg, John Peterson and Brian Skinner that was only resolved on the next to last lap, when Peterson went from third to second, Goikhberg second to fourth and Skinner, fourth to third. Two laps earlier, Mark Fee capped his giant run back from the depths – he had fallen to 10th by the end of lap one – by snatching and keeping fifth. Rick Balsley would have been running with these guys too, except a soft brake pedal ended his day early.
Sage Karem’s dad wanted his kid to run in traffic, so he volunteered to start at the back. Well, um, Sage at least got three laps of traffic-running… which is how long it took him to get to the lead, getting around Skinner and Tom Brown, then motoring off to a 5-second MoV over Skinner. Brown’s race was the most exciting, as he went from leader to third to fifth in the space of six laps – then to fourth then third in the last two! Peterson also went down then up, finally finishing fourth after starting on pole and dropping as far as fifth, while Fee went up then down – he had been as high as P3, with a couple laps to go — but came home fifth at the checker.
Road Atlanta is on tap for rounds seven and eight of the Midwest and East championships, plus rounds seven and eight of the MAZDASPEED Challenge, July 10-11-12. REMEMBER: This is a Thursday-through-Saturday event, in the manner of the Lime Rock race weekends.
One week later (July 18-20), the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda heads to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., with the Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes for rounds seven and eight.
Then at the beginning of August (1, 2, 3) is the much-anticipated Midwest and East races at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in St. Jovite, Canada. August 8-10 is the National at Road America with ALMS, followed a few weeks later by a truly unique event at the all-new New Jersey Motorsports Park: Rounds 11 and 12 of the National, with the Grand-Am DP machines, on the Thunderbolt track, plus rounds 11 and 12 of the Midwest and East Series on the Lightning track.
We’ve never had the opportunity to show both regional and National at the same place and the same time, so this is going to be very cool…
One More Thing!
Click here to read about the first-time-ever MAZDASPEED Challenge ”Enduro” race at Lime Rock, supporting the giant NASCAR weekend in August. There may still be time for you to enter…