Skip Barber National at Barber: De Phillippi wins again, Vernon breaks through

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Saturday, July 18, 2009 more images and points below

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Leeds, Ala. (July 19) – Barber Motorsports Park provided the location for some of the season’s best racing as Connor De Phillippi extended his points lead and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development driver Court Vernon capitalized on his twin poles to earn his first Skip Barber National victory.

Saturday’s Race 1 quickly turned into a four-car break away, with the top four qualifiers; Court Vernon, De Phillippi, Felipe Polehtto and Kyle Marcelli pulling away from the pack to fight for the lead amongst themselves. Lap after lap, the quartet passed and re-passed each other; using the draft and their momentum to briefly gain advantage before surrendering falling back into the group.

All this jockeying for the lead allowed Stevan McAleer to catch up to the lead pack. McAleer, running on a limited budget and with limited seat time, started eighth, but quickly started picking off competitors on his way to the front. By lap 9 he was up to the back of the lead pack.

At the white flag, Court Vernon held the lead over Felipe Polehtto with Connor De Phillippi in third and Kyle Marcelli and McAleer behind him. Coming around for the checkers the quintet had shuffled, with De Phillippi getting around Vernon for the win, followed closely by McAleer, Marcelli and Polehtto; all five drivers covered by less than a second at the stripe. Julian Albaracin and Michael Vincec had their best results so far this season with a sixth and seventh respectively, followed by Isaac Lyons and Dennis Trebing, with Sage Karam rounding out an exciting top ten. Officially nine lead changes were scored during the 15 lap race, but an unofficial count had the number of lead changes in the 40’s.

The final race on the Barber Motorsports Park weekend card began with Court Vernon and Connor De Phillippi on the front row. Learning their lessons from Race 1, where early racing for the lead allowed the field to stay close, the duo worked together early to gap the second group which included Kyle Marcelli, Felipe Polehtto, Sage Karam and Michael Vincec, and a third group with Stevan McAleer (who started shotgun on the field after missing qualifying), Isaac Lyons and Ashley Freiberg.

From then on it was a matter of who was going to make the final pass for the lead and when. The final pass came on in Turn 11 on the final lap, and it was Court Vernon who made the winning move. Vernon, who led all but two laps at the stripe, actually battled tooth and nail with De Phillippi for point in the later stages of the race. In the end, Vernon crossed the line a quarter of a second ahead of Connor De Phillippi, with Felipe Polehtto three seconds back in third, leading a second group to the finish that included Sage Karam , Kyle Marcelli and Michael Vincec (his best results to date coming this weekend). Stevan McAleer made it as far as seventh, ahead of Isaac Lyons and Ashley Freiberg with Julian Albaracin in tenth. The win was the first for Vernon, the 2008 Skip Barber Eastern Race Series Champion in Skip Barber National competition.

With a win and a second on the weekend, Connor De Phillippi adds to his lead in the 2009 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda over Felipe Polehtto and Court Vernon. The Skip Barber National resumes the weekend of August 21-23 at Wisconsin’s Road America, headlining a card that includes the Skip Barber Summer Race Series and Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge.

Results, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
July 18, 2009, round 7 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Barber Motorsports Park, 17-turn, 2.30-mile road course
(Starting position in parentheses)

1. (2) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif. 15 laps, 83.518 average mpg
2. (1) Court Vernon, Key Biscayne, Fla., 15
3. (8) Stevan McAleer, Scotland, 15
4. (4) Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ont., Canada, 15
5. (3) Felipe Polehtto, Brazil, 15
6. (10) Julian Albaracin, Colombia, 15
7. (11) Michael Vincec, Stouffville, Ont., Canada, 15
8. (6) Isaac Lyons, Northern Ireland, 15
9. (9) Dennis Trebing, Cape Coral, Fla., 15
10. (7) Sage Karam, Nazareth, Penn., 15
11. (13) Ashley Freiberg, Homer Glen, Ill., 15
12. (14) Thomas Bonatz, Birmingham, Ala., 15
13. (5) Sean Rayhall, Winston, Ga., 3 (mechanical)
14. (12) Robert LaRocca, Delray Beach, Fla., 1 (contact)

Race length: 15 laps of 2.3-mile road course for 34.5 miles
Time of race: 24 minutes, 47.100seconds
Conditions: Sunny and hot
Margin of victory: 0.342 seconds
Lap leaders: Vernon 1; De Phillippi 2; Polehtto 3 – 4; Vernon 5 – 6; De Phillippi 7 – 8; Polehtto 9 – 10; Vernon 11 – 12; De Phillippi 13; Vernon 14; De Phillippi 15
Cautions: None
Fastest qualifier: Vernon, 1:38.163 / 84.350 mph
Fastest race lap: Vernon, 1:37.677 / 84.769 mph, lap 5

July 19, 2009, round 8 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Barber Motorsports Park, 17-turn, 2.3-mile road course
(Starting position in parentheses)

1. (1) Court Vernon, Key Biscayne, Fla., 15 laps, 84.887 average mph
2. (2) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 15 Laps
3. (5) Felipe Polehtto, Brazil, 15
4. (6) Sage Karam, Nazareth, Penn., 15
5. (4) Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ont., Canada, 15
6. (3) Michael Vincec, Stouffville, Ont., Canada, 15
7. (14) Stevan McAleer, Scotland, 15
8. (7) Isaac Lyons, Northern Ireland, 15
9. (8) Ashley Freiberg, Homer Glen, Ill., 15
10. (11) Julian Albaracin, Colombia, 15
11. (9) Dennis Trebing, Cape Coral, Fla., 15
12. (10) Robert LaRocca, Delray Beach, Fla., 15
13. (13) Thomas Bonatz, Birmingham, Ala., 15
14. (12) Sean Rayhall, Winston, Ga., 14

Race length: 15 laps of 2.3-mile road course for 34.5 miles
Time of race: 24 minutes, 23.123 seconds
Conditions: Sunny and hot
Margin of victory: 0.256 seconds
Lap leaders: De Phillippi 1 – 2; Vernon 3 – 15
Cautions: None
Fastest qualifier: Vernon 1:38.142 / 84.368 mph
Fastest race lap: De Phillippi, 1:36.715 / 85.612 mph, lap 7

2009 Skip Barber National points standings after 8 of 14 rounds, top 15 drivers:
1. Connor De Phillippi, 263
2. Felipe Polehtto, 231
3. Court Vernon, 227
4. Kyle Marcelli, 199
5. Stevan McAleer, 192
6. Dennis Trebing, 177
7. Sage Karam, 173
8. Sean Rayhall, 164
9. Isaac Lyons, 160
10. Brett Smrz, 153
11. Julian Albaracin, 150
12. Michael Vincec, 144
13. Ashley Freiberg, 142
14. Corey Lewis, 120
15. Jason Toft, 114

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Vernon (61) leads De Phillippi (18), Polehtto (55) and the field to the green to start Race 1.

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Polehtto (55) and De Phillippi (18) battle for the lead.

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Stevan McAleer talks about his run from eighth to third with announcer Rick Ratajzcak

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Hold ’em high! (l. to r.) McAleer, De Phillippi and Vernon on the Race 1 podium…

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and in the Media Center.

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2009 race winners De Phillippi and Polehtto welcome first-timer Court Vernon to the club.

Jim Altemus

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