SBN at VIR: It’s Miller & Newgarden

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

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Josef Newgarden (8) and Ricky Taylor (37) ran like this in both races, neither having much over the other. But it didn’t end well in race one…

ALTON, Va. (April 29) – Joel Miller and Josef Newgarden had dramatic wins at Virginia International Raceway in rounds three and four of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda. For Miller, racing under the 2007 Skip Barber/Snap-on Stars of Karting Scholarship banner, it was his maiden National win. So too for new guy Newgarden, who had come from impressive wins in Skip Barber’s Regional championships.

In race one, Miller was in fifth place at the beginning of the last lap. In fact, with just three corners to go he was no better off, still dicing with Peter Ludwig in third and Jeff Oleen – the points leader – in fourth. Newgarden, who had just drafted past polesitter Ricky Taylor down the long backstraight from Oak Tree to Turn 14, protected his line entering the corner. But Taylor, who had led nine of the 10 laps up to that point, was trying to out-brake Newgarden, who legitimately thought he already had the corner. Banging wheels-to-sidepods, each were convinced they had rights to the downhill righthander called Rollercoaster. But near the apex, both cars on the razor’s edge, their final contact spun the two around. Third place Ludwig, a Masters Division driver running as quick as the kids, thought for sure the race was going to be his — if he could snake through the melee. But Taylor’s spinning car caught Ludwig’s, and Oleen’s too. Miller had a longer look at the developing maelstrom and was able to find a way by, putting two wheels to the grass to squeeze by; Stevan McAleer and A.J. Riley did the same. McAleer and Riley had a bit more momentum and made bids to get past Miller through the last corner but fell a few car lengths shy. It was a crazy win for Miller, but it was he who survived and had no trouble savoring the win.

Jonathan Gore ran a smart race to fourth, with Sebring race winner Timmy Megenbier right on Gore’s gearbox to take fifth. Kyle Lawrence, Juan Carlos Sistos, Oleen, Julien Gerbi and Quentin Wahl rounded out the top 10, with Wahl duking it out all race long with Jeff Kaiser and Dick Lippert to take the Masters Division win.

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This is the pack that was running a couple seconds behind Taylor and Newgarden. McAleer is in the 73 car, eventual winner Miller is in the 93, Riley is the blue 9 and that’s Gore “trailing,” if you could call it that.

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Erstwhile points leader Jeff Oleen had at least a fourth place in the bag in race one, until the leaders spun in T14 on the last lap and he got caught up in the melee.

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Soaked in champagne, here is race one’s top three, left to right: P3 A.J. Riley, winner Joel Miller, second place Stevan McAleer.

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Masters Division winner Quentin Wahl was 10th overall.

Okay, we get to race two, and guess what? It was a virtual carbon copy of race one. Yep, Taylor and Newgarden were cutting each other up, Taylor leading most of the laps, Newgarden never more than a couple car lengths behind. Again, it’s the last lap. Again, Taylor is P1 and Newgarden is in second. And yes, ‘‘Newgy’’ is again in prime position to draft Taylor as they leave Oak Tree and head down the long run to 14. The draft works, Newgarden pops left for the lead and here they come, rocketing up to the corner. Taylor is less than a car length behind. It wasn’t going to happen again, would it? Um, no. Both had learned a hard lesson and Rollercoaster was negotiated drama-free. But don’t think this thing was over: Taylor was now perfectly placed to get a run on Newgarden through the very fast righthand Turn 17, which spits the cars out on the front straight, and there’s enough of a run to start-finish for a draft-pass to have a legitimate chance. Taylor almost made it work — the finish line needed to be another 50 yards up the road. Newgarden did it by three one-hundredths of a second, winning in just his fourth Skip Barber National start.

Miller stayed close to this battle, too, and finished less than a half-second behind Newgarden to take third place, while Lawrence, who started on the front row alongside Taylor (two for two in pole qualifying), fell back to fifth mid-race but eventually ran down 2006 Sao Paulo FF1600 champion Fabio Orsolon to take fourth. Oleen, Megenbier and Riley were in their own snarling pack, finishing sixth-through eighth covered by three-tenths, with Sistos a distant ninth. Ludwig was 10th, taking the Masters victory.

Miller’s excellent weekend lifts him to the points lead, dropping Oleen to second and Taylor to fourth, with Megenbier fifth. Lawrence’s unspectacular but solid results now has him third in the standings. Next up is wide and fast Cleveland, sure to be furiously fought.

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Josef Newgarden qualified second for race one and fifth for race two.

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Kyle Lawrence (55) went from 14th on the grid to sixth at the checker in race one (here dicing with Jeff Kaiser), then scored a fourth in race two. Lawrence is fifth in points.

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He may be new to this, but Newgarden will end up hosing Taylor like a pro…

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Peter Ludwig almost won overall in race one. He did win the Masters Division honors in race two, however.

Results, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda

April 27, 2007, round 3 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Virginia International Raceway, 17-turn, 3.27-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (4) Joel Miller, Hesperia, Calif., 11 laps, 88.486 mph average speed
2. (5) Steven McAleer, Glasgow, Scotland, 11 laps
3. (17), A.J. Riley, Wilton, Conn., 11
4. (12), Jonathan Gore, Franklin, Tenn., 11
5. (2) Timmy Megenbier, Melrose Park, Ill., 11
6. (8) Kyle Lawrence, Fort Gratiot, Mich., 11
7. (19) Juan Carlos Sistos, Mexico, 11
8. (8) Jeff Oleen, Bethesdam Md., 11
9. (14), Julien Gerbi, Nice, France, 11
10. 1M (22) Quentin Wahl, Santa Barbara, Calif., 11
11. 2M (13), Jeff Kaiser, Santa Clara, Calif., 11
12. 3M (17), Dick Lippert, Wichita, Kan., 11
13. 4M (5), Peter Ludwig, New Paltz, N.Y., 11
14. 5M (19), Dom Bastien, New Canaan, Conn., 11
15. 10 in class (15), Juan Pablo Contreras, Guatemala, 11
16. 11 in class (2), Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 11
17. 12 in class (10) Fabio Orsolon, Cabo Frio, Brazil, 11
18. 13 in class (11), Lee Carpentier, Great River, L.I., N.Y., 11
19. 14 in class (20) Chris Keller, Green Brook, N.J., 11
20. 15 in class (21), Taz Smith, Jacksonville, Fla., 11
21. 16 in class (16), Mario Ochoa, Mexico, 11
22. 17 in class (1) Ricky Taylor, Apopka, Fla., 10 (crash)

Race length: 11 laps of 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course for 36 miles
Time of race: 24 minutes, 23.425 seconds
Conditions: Partly cloudy
Margin of victory: 0.277 seconds
Lap leaders: Taylor 1-3; Newgarden 4; Taylor 5-10; Miller 11 Cautions: None
Fastest qualifier: Taylor, 2:11.421 / 89.575 mph
Fastest race lap: Newgarden, 2:10.507 / 90.202 mph, lap 3

April 29, 2007, round 4 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Virginia International Raceway, 17-turn, 3.27-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (5) Newgarden, 11 laps, 82.302 mph winning average speed
2. (1) Taylor, 11 laps
3. (4) Miller, 11
4. (2) Lawrence, 11
5. (3) Orsolon 11
6. (7) Oleen, 11
7. (10) Megenbier, 11
8. (8) Riley, 11
9. (9) Sistos, 11
10. 1M (14) Ludwig, 11
11. 10 in class (13) Carpentier, 11
12. 11 in class (22) Gore, 11
13. 2M (19) Kaiser, 11
14. 12 in class (12) Contreras, 11
15. 3M (15) Bastien, 11
16. 13 in class (20) Ochoa, 11
17. 14 in class (21) Smith, 11
18. 4M (16) Wahl, 11
19. 5M (18) Lippert, 11
20. 15 in class (17) Keller, 11
21. 16 in class (6) McAleer, 11
22. 17 in class (11) Gerbi, 11

Race length: 11 laps of 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course for 36 miles
Time of race: 26 minutes, 13.378 seconds
Conditions: Sunny
Margin of victory: 0.037 seconds
Lap leaders: Taylor 1-8; Newgarden 9; Taylor 10; Newgarden 11
Cautions: One, for 1 lap (lap 5)
Fastest qualifier: Taylor, 2:08.386 / 91.692 mph
Fastest race lap: Lawrence, 2:09.637 / 90.807 mph, lap 11

2007 Skip Barber National points standings, top 15 drivers:
1. Joel Miller, 125
2. Jeff Oleen, 110
3. Ricky Taylor, 109
4. Timmy Megenbier, 109
5. Kyle Lawrence, 100
6. A.J. Riley, 99
7. Stevan McAleer, 95
8. Juan Carlos Sistos, 90
9. Jonathan Gore, 82
10. Juan Pablo Contreras, 78
11. Josef Newgarden, 76
12. Lee Carpentier, 71
13. Julien Gerbi, 70
14. Taz Smith, 67
15. Beau Debard, 59

Masters Division, Skip Barber National points standings, top 5 drivers:
1. Jeff Kaiser, 128
2. Dick Lippert, 126
3. Dom Bastien, 114
4. Quentin Wahl, 63
5. Peter Ludwig, 63

Rick Roso

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