Skip Barber National Preview: Heading to Miller It’s Miller

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Monday, September 10, 2007

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One of the podiums at the most recent rounds of the Skip Barber National reflected the current points standings: Joel Miller (c.), A.J. Riley (l.) and Ricky Taylor (r.)

With just four (of 14) races remaining in the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, you would think that the championship fight would be clear. It’s not unusual that by this point in many series, championship fights have boiled down to either a walk-away winner, or at least be clearly pointing to two obvious frontrunners.

But that’s not the case in this year’s National. The equal-car Skip Barber National has always been ultra-competitive (e.g., five different winners in the year’s first 10 races) but when you factor in five part-time drivers taking big points mid-season (Chris Weirhreim, Revere Greist, Conor Daly, Jeff Relic and Gabby Chaves), not only are there three drivers solidly in the hunt, three more have decent chances to cop the title – and three others are mathematically alive.

Making it even closer is that the points scheme mandates a dropping of a driver’s single worst result. Victories are worth 35 points, second 32 and third place, 28. Pole positions are worth 1 point.

What’s at stake, of course, is a paid ride in next year’s Star Mazda Series, conservatively valued at $350,000.

This weekend are rounds 11 and 12 at Miller Motorsports Park, supporting the Grand-Am Rolex Sunchaser 1000. Four-time winner Joel Miller has 304 points, A.J. Riley (a victory at Road America) is second with 278 while Ricky Taylor – twice a winner, at Sebring and Road America – sits third at 263. Next are Kyle Lawrence, Timmy Megenbier (one win) and Stevan McAleer, stuck together at 248, 245 and 244, respectively, while seventh, eighth and ninth are Jeff Oleen, Josef Newgarden (two wins) and Juan Carlos Sistos. One slip by Miller and those seemingly superfluous single pole-points might very well come to bear.

In the Masters Division, three drivers are battling for top honors. Dick Lippert, Jeff Kaiser and Dom Bastien are separated by just 29 points (358, 347 and 329, respectively). Who will cop the championship has all the makings of coming down to a last-race, last-lap shoot-out, too.

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Dick Lippert (#41) and Jeff Kaiser (#47) are one-two in Masters Division points, with Dom Bastien (#4) right on their ‘gearboxes,’ so to speak.

Rick Roso

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