Road America Triple Header Race Weekend

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Saturday, August 29, 2009 Three series.
Six Race Groups.
101 drivers.
One corner.

On paper Road America’s Turn 12, also known as “Canada corner”, is a late-apex right hand corner at the end of the Kettle Bottoms that leads you up to Billy Mitchell and is a good place to set up and make a pass… if you can get it right. During Skip Barber Racing’s first triple-header Race Weekend, Turn 12 affected the outcome of just about every race in one way or another.

A scheduling issue led to the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda to join the Skip Barber Summer Race Series and the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge for what turned into the largest Race Weekend in years (and possibly ever). Summer Series point leader Nick Andries strengthened his hold on the 2009 title while things tightened up in a major way for the MAZDASPEED Challenge crown heading into the season finale at Lime Rock Park.

Group 1, Race 1 – MAZDASPEED Challenge
Coming into Road America Lee Carpentier held a 10-point lead over Phil Mather with Andrew Pasquale a further 20 markers back in third. Mather took pole over Carpentier with James Lustman, Pasquale and John Snyder rounding out the top five in qualifying. Carpentier’s race ended on Lap 4 with a tumble into the kitty litter in Canada, not only dropping him to last in the race result (and starting him last for Race 2 on Sunday) but allowing Mather and Pasquale to make up ground in the season point standings.

When the race went green again, it turned into a drafting duel between Mather, Pasquale Lustman and Snyder. At the checkers it was Mather taking the win by .180 sec. over James Lustman. Andrew Pasquale crossed the line in third but a 25 second penalty for not pitting after car contact knocked him down to sixth in the final results, behind John Snyder (the Master’s winner), Ward Herst and Dan Moen. Michael Luzich came home in seventh ahead of Myron Turner and David Steinschraber while Ken Greenberg rounded out the top ten.

Group 1, Race 2
Phil Mather brought the field to green for Race 2 with James Lustman beside him for the start. Meanwhile out back, Lee Carpentier was on the move. From the thirteenth on the grid, Carpentier picked up six positions on the opening lap, working his way up to a battle for third with polesitter Mather.

This duel allowed the lead pair of Andrew Pasquale and James Lustman to open a gap on the field, and it was between the pair that the race win was settled with Pasquale ultimately opening up a 3.719 second margin of victory over Lustman. In an interesting twist, it was Lee Carpentier, who took third on track, who was penalized for not pitting after contact with Phil Mather late in the race; the 25 second penalty dropping him to sixth behind Master’s winner Ward Herst, John Snyder and Mather in the official results. Myron Turner came in seventh ahead of Dan Moen and Kenn Greenberg while Michael Luzich completed the top ten.

Group 2, Race 1 – Summer Race Series
With Nick Andries and Al Carter in different race groups for the weekend and third in points Pat Daly having “doubled” earlier in the season, Road America was an opportunity for two of the top three in the Summer Race Series standings to score maximum points heading into the Lime Rock finale. 19 SBF2000’s took the green flag for Race 1, with point leader Nick Andries sharing the front row with P.J. Rashidi. Things got crazy early with separate incidents between Tom Roberts and Harsha Sen (Turn 1) Jason Kirkorian and John Shafer (Turn 5) and Sen and Scott Anderson (Turn 12) on the first lap. All were able to continue save Anderson, whose beached car brought out the full course yellow.

When racing resumed on Lap 4, Andries took off with Rashidi in pursuit, leaving Tom Roberts, Marconi Abreu, Thomas Healy and Dr. Mike Edwards to battle for third through fifth. Roberts got around Abreu for third on Lap 6, followed soon after by Dr. Mike. It was then Dr. Mike who got around Roberts for third. Coming up to going this group was Dean Patzer. Patzer, in his first race in about a year, started the race from 20th and worked his way up through the field; taking nine spots on the opening lap. By Lap 7 he was around Abreu for fifth and closing on Roberts before running out of laps.

Out front it was a dominating performance by Nick Andries; the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development driver taking a comfortable victory over P.J. Rashidi by a tick under seven seconds. Dr. Mike Edward pipped Thom Roberts by .015 sec. for the final step on the podium while Dean Patzer took fifth over Marconi Abreu by just under a second. Thomas Healy brought his car home in seventh, ahead of Harsha Sen, who rallied from deep in the field to a fine eighth place, while Terry Clyburn and Marcus Foertsch rounded out the top ten.

Group 2, Race 2
Chris Brassard got the jump on the field, going from tenth to second behind polesitter Nick Andries at the start of Race 2. His advantage as short-lived, as Dean Patzer and Marconi Abreu got around him by the end of Lap 1. The yellow came out soon after for an incident involving Bruce Robson, John Shafer and Scott Anderson, knocking Robson’s out of the race and Anderson in the gravel in Turn 12, waiting for a tow.

The green flag came back out on Lap 5 with Andries in the lead followed by Abreu and Patzer. Abreu’s second was itself short-lived as he got it wrong going into Canada, drove through the gravel trap and had to pit for a four-off check. The four-off and safety dropped Abreu down in the order order and set up Patzer and Rashidi to try and chase down the leader. That chase was cut short when the second full course yellow came out for Harsha Sen, who looped his car exiting Billy Mitchell, backing his car into the wall. The race ended under yellow with Nick Andries picking up his second win of the weekend, with Dean Patzer in second and P.J. Rashidi in third. Thomas Healy came in fourth, ahead of Marcus Foertsch and Dr. Mike Edwards, with Terry Clyburn in seventh. After the big move at the start, Chris Brassard brought his car home in eighth ahead of Gus Doppes while Jim Kettlekamp completed the top ten.

Group 3, Races 1 & 2 – BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Click here for National story and results

Group 4, Race 1 – Summer Race Series
The front row of Jordan Gore and number two in points Al Carter led the field to the green for Race 1. The yellow came out shortly after for Ben Joplin, who beached his car in Turn 3. He would attempt to return to the action but ultimately retired with damage. During the run to take position behind the pace car, Carter got around Gore to take the point during the caution period. Carter led the next few green flag laps before surrendering the point to Gore and sliding back into a battle with Brian Skinner, Kevin Tittle and Greg Strelzoff for second through fifth.

The second caution of the race came out for another incident in Canada, this time Lee Kaiser, who beached his car in the gravel. After being pulled out by Road America’s safety crew, Kaiser made his mandatory visit to the pits for a four-off check and resumed.

The green flag came out with two laps to go, with Gore stretching his lead over Carter and Tittle. The battle for second came to a head on the last lap with contact between Carter and Tittle, resulting in 25-second penalties for both. The penalties dropped them from second and fourth respectively on track to 16th and 17th in the official results. That didn’t matter to Jordan Gore, who grabbed his first Skip Barber Race Series victory. The penalties did move Brian Skinner up to second place, ahead of Trent Hindman, and Greg Strelzoff to fourth ahead of Paul Subject, who came from 11th on the grid to a fine fifth. Vern Chevalier also moved up six spots from his starting position to take sixth while Brian Buri was the most progressive driver of the race, moving up nine positions to a well earned seventh. Alexey Dronov came in eighth ahead of Dex Tuttle while John Muehl rounded out the top ten.

Group 4, Race 2
With the win on Saturday, Jordan Gore earned the pole position for Race 2, leading the field to green with Trent Hindman and Greg Strelzoff in close pursuit. In contrast to Saturday’s caution-filled race, Race 2 ran caution free, allowing Al Carter to get back to the front. After the post-race contact penalty on Saturday, Carter needed to put in an inspired race to minimize the point loss to leader Nick Andries. Starting 14th, Carter went to work; picking up five positions on the opening lap. By Lap 2 he was past Race 1 combatant Kevin Tittle for fifth. Two laps later he was around Greg Strelzoff for fourth and by the end of Lap 6 he passed Dex Tuttle for third.

Out front, Jordan Gore was cruising. From the pole he led every lap to take his second win in two races by a commanding 11.293 sec. over Trent Hindman, with Al Carter hanging on to third by three-tenths of a second over Greg Strelzoff and taking the Master’s win for good measure. Dex Tuttle finished fifth, ahead of Kevin Tittle, who had his own run from deep in the field to come home sixth. Another driver making a big move in Race 2 was Ben Jopling, who came from 17th on the grid to finish seventh ahead of Paul Subject and Mark Fee, who himself improved nine spots from his starting position to finish ninth. Brian Buri completed the top ten.

Group 5, Race 1 – MAZDASPEED Challenge
The second MAZDASPEED Challenge group of the weekend was a reconnoitering of sorts for several racers learning the four-mile Road America circuit in preparation for the upcoming SCCA National Runoffs. The field was led to the green for its first race by the front row of Keith Verges and Matthew Reynolds. The full course yellow came out on Lap 1 for Mitch Landry’s crash in the Kink. The clean up led to an extended yellow, with the green coming out on Lap 5, leaving the field with a five lap sprint to the finish.

The shortened race didn’t affect the top three of SCCA Spec Miata racers Verges and Reynolds, and Showroom Stock B driver Dick Cullen. The trio of drivers took advantage of the seat time to learn the track and had themselves a good race while they were at it. At the stripe it was Keith Verges taking the win by 1.73 sec. over Matthew Reynolds with Dick Cullen close behind in third. Another visiting SCCA racer, GT Lights competitor Jim Hargrove, came in fourth ahead of Matt Fassnacht and Bruce Robson. Brian Freiberg, brother of Skip Barber National driver Ashley, finished in seventh, ahead of Spec Miata racer Raj Narayanan and Edward Joyce while Mitch Landry was credited with tenth.

Group 2, Race 2
The “SCCA lead element” took the green for Race 2 with Keith Verges on point after his Race 1 win followed by Matthew Reynolds and Dick Cullen. The full course yellow came out to recover Matt Fassnacht from the beach in Canada. When racing resumed on Lap 3, Verges, Reynolds, Brian Freiberg and Cullen set off to battle for the lead. What ensued was at first blush a door to door, nose to tail drafting battle between the four.

At the finish the top three was Matthew Reynolds taking the win by the slimmest of margins – .908 sec. – over Keith Verges, with Brian Freiberg .020 behind. A post race inspection found evidence of contact between Reynolds and Freiberg, resulting in 25-second penalties for missing safety checks. The revised order had Verges taking his second win of the weekend by 24.092 sec. over Reynolds with Freiberg still in third, but by 25.020 sec. Bruce Robson came in fourth, ahead of Jim Hargrove and Mitch Landry. Edward Joyce finished in seventh, Raj Narayanan eighth and Dick Cullen in ninth. Matt Fassnacht got out of the gravel in Canada in time to stay on the lead lap and rounded out the top ten.

Group 6, Race 1 – Summer Race Series
Saturday’s race action led to Group 6’s first race to be run early Sunday morning. This made for a busy day for Isaac Lyons and Felix Serralles. Racing in both the Summer Race Series and the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, this schedule change meant that both drivers would run four sessions on Sunday, including back-to-back races in the afternoon.

Dr. Michael Edwards led the field to the green for the start of Race 1, followed by Serralles, Lyons, Marconi Abreu and Chase Patzer. After a full course yellow to pull Mark Fee’s car out of the Turn 14 tire wall, a pitched battle ensued with Dr. Mike, Serralles, Abreu and Chase Patzer all taking turns at the point. Abreu’s turn at the front was cut short by contact with Brian Skinner in the Kink on Lap 4, leaving Skinner’s car down on course and bringing out the second full course yellow of the race.

Racing resumed on Lap 6 with Chase Patzer leading Lyons and Serralles. The trio battled for the lead before a third full course yellow came out for another incident, this time for contact between Abreu and Steve Wilmeth which left the latter down on course in Turn 6. The race would end under caution with Isaac Lyons picking up his first Skip Barber Race Series win over Felix Serralles and Chase Patzer. Dr. Michael Edwards picked up the Master’s win with a strong fourth ahead of the charging Harsha Sen, who came from 20th to round out the top five. Neal Agran finished sixth with Quentin Wahl coming from last to seventh followed by Jim Booth. John Mitchell and Anthony Maioriello rounded out the top ten.

Group 6, Race 2
In contrast to the morning’s caution filled affair, Race 2 went green all the way, setting up a race-long battle between top three starters Isaac Lyons, Felix Serralles and Chase Patzer. The lap chart shows that Lyons led all but one lap on the way to his second victory of the weekend, but the lap chart doesn’t tell the entire story as he, Serralles (who led the one other lap) and Patzer swapped first through third multiple times each lap.

Coming out of Turn 14 for the final time, Lyons led with Serralles on his gearbox and Patzer in tow. Drafting as they crested the hill Serralles popped, pulling alongside the leader as they crossed the finish line. At the checkers it was Isaac Lyons just squeaked out the victory by .069 sec. over Felix Serralles. Chase Patzer was a close third, .410 sec. from the leader. Neal Agran finished where he started; in fourth, ahead of Jim Booth and Ethan Stone, while Greg Strelzoff came from 16th to a solid seventh. Gus Doppes came home in eighth ahead of Lee Kaiser while John Mitchell beat Franz Fleischli by just over a tenth to round out the top ten.

Nick Andries is in the driver’s seat for the 2009 Summer Race Series title, leading Al Carter by 49 points heading into the season finale, with Pat Daly in third followed by Marconi Abreu and Dex Tuttle. It’s a little tighter for the Master’s points with Carter holding a 12 point advantage over Pat Daly with Dom Bastien in third
Things are a bit tighter in MAZDASPEED Challenge, where it will be winner takes all at the season finale, with Phil Mather holding an eight point lead over Lee Carpentier on raw score, they are tied when their two worst results are dropped. Andrew Pasquale holds third place ahead of Ward Herst and John Snyder. Ward Herst is eight points up on John Snyder in the Master’s points with John Tancredi in third

Both the Skip Barber Summer Race Series and the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge join the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda for their season finales at the inaugural Skip Barber Festival of Speed October 8-10 at Lime Rock Park.

Jim Altemus

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