SBN: Storm a’brewing at Thunderbolt

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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The race pressure will be high at Thunderbolt for the top four drivers in points. Clockwise from top-left: Josef Newgarden, 288 points; Felipe Polehtto, 286; Conor Daly, 282; and Fabio Orsolon, 279.

MILLVILLE, N.J. – With the weekend’s Thunderbolt races at NJMP on the horizon, rounds 11 and 12 of the 14-race the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda will result in one of two things: An even further tightening of the already tangled knot of drivers in the championship hunt, or the tripping and falling of a couple of drivers that will leave one or two drivers standing.

There are four races to go – the finale at VIR is in early October – and the top four drivers are, in practical terms, tied. The 9 points that separates first-place Josef Newgarden (288) from fourth-place Fabio Orsolon (279) – with Felipe Polehtto at 286 and Conor Daly 282 – is less than the value of a 20th-place finish.

None of these four can afford a less-than-stellar weekend at Thunderbolt (obviously, a track nobody has yet seen), so the pressure is enormous. Any stumble will not only dramatically hurt their chances, but possibly allow Stevan McAleer (233) and/or Connor De Phillippi (222) to displace them in the quest for the title and its $350,000 Star Mazda award.

Round 11 is set for 11:55 a.m. on Saturday, August 30. Sunday’s race is set for 5:15 p.m.

Live timing and scoring for practice (Fri., 8:00 a.m.), the two qualifying sessions (Fri., 12:25 p.m. and Sat., 8:00 a.m.) and the races will be available at the Skip Barber website, courtesy of Grand-Am T&S. You’ll be able to click on a Flash object on the home page, identified as Live Timing & Scoring from Thunderbolt.

Rick Roso

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