SBN’s Top Two Pilots Lead Way in FF Festival Qualifying

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Friday, October 17, 2008 BRANDS HATCH, England – Expectations were high for Team USA Scholarship drivers Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden as they went into today’s official qualifying sessions for the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Each was in a different group and when their 15-minute sessions were checkered, ”Newgy” was on pole for Heat One while Daly just missed (by .07) pole for Heat Two.

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This is Conor Daly (#22) and Josef Newgarden (#21) in their Cliff Dempsey Racing-prepped Formula Fords during practice at Brands hatch. This is the famous Druids Corner. Photo by Jeff Bloxham

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Daly in the paddock, ready to head out for qualifying. Photo by Derek Daly

Daly and Newgarden are coming off stellar years in the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda. Daly and Newgarden finished one-two in the championship following the Skip Barber National finale at Virginia International Raceway two weeks ago. Daly won a series-high five races and took three poles to finish with 388 points and the title, the prize for which is a paid ride in the 2009 Star Mazda series, valued at approximately $350,000. Newgarden won three races and took a series-high six pole positions and scored 372 points.

At Brands Hatch, the two patriotically liveried Ray GRS06/7 cars, prepared by Irish-based Cliff Dempsey Racing, have been at or very near the top of the testing charts during the past three days. The number of competitors has gradually increased as the week of testing has progressed, and both drivers were in a confident frame of mind as they headed into their first-ever international event. Brands Hatch has hosted the Formula Ford Festival each year since 1976 – when, coincidentally, Conor’s father, Derek, won the event.

The Formula Ford Festival has spawned the careers of many top-line drivers over the years, including current IndyCar star Danica Patrick and Formula 1 standouts David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Mark Webber. Other well-known names to have developed their talents in Formula Ford include Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser.

Saturday will see a pair of 15-lap qualifying heat races. The Team USA drivers have been placed in separate heat races. The top 12 drivers from each heat race will then progress into a pair of semi-final races on Sunday morning. The same process will determine the grid positions for the 25-lap Final on Sunday.

”I feel our third test day with Cliff Dempsey Racing went really well, and that not only ourselves but the team has been making steady progress,” said Newgarden, 17, from Hendersonville, Tenn.

Daly’s efforts have been hindered slightly by an obscure misfire at the top end, which, thankfully, seems to have been cured with a change of carburetor. He, too, is excited about his weekend prospects. ”Testing the last several days has gone very well I think,” said Daly, 16, from Noblesville, Ind. “Josef and I have learned so much about the track, cars and all kinds of weather conditions!”

The Team USA Scholarship was founded in 1990 and is supported by Terminal Velocity Processing, Doug Mockett & Company, Aspin Foundations, Road Racing Drivers Club, Firestone Indy Lights Championship, Highcroft Racing, American Honda, Silicon Salvage, McMurry Inc., Dyson Racing, Metalore, The Gorsline Company, Integrated Performance Technology, Andersen Racing Team, PitFit Training, Sparco USA, FormulaCar Magazine, Speedstar Management, Manifest Group and an array of past Scholarship winners including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, A.J. Allmendinger, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Paul Edwards and Memo Gidley.

Click here for the boys’ blogs, direct from Brands Hatch

Rick Roso, Jeremy Shaw & Derek Daly

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