The Daytona Opener
Wednesday, November 09, 2005 The Southern Series opened with a bang at Daytona, where we had great weather, more than 40 drivers, and to top it off, the 24-hour course had been recently paved, so we saw better, more consistent grip (and Craig Duerson took advantage of it to set a new lap record, a 2:11.434 in qualifying). By Sunday afternoon, we were congratulating three first-time winners; Michel Garrido, Miles Bell and Carlos Llano. The weekend was also the first Southern Series Triple Crown race…
On pole with a new track record, Craig Duerson kissed everyone goodbye right from the git-go. Even one lap of a mid-race FCY was not enough help for those behind so Duerson cruised to a relatively unimpeded 2-second MoV. Not so ”easy” were the battles for second on back. Reigning Midwest champion Revere Greist was going at it hot and heavy with new guy Alex Doman for second, and Steve Ablondi, Richard Heistand, John Greist and Michael Gomez were also making things happen. Too much so for Heistand, who on lap five backed her into the fence in the corner that takes you back onto the banking. On the re-start, Doman held P2 ahead of Revere, while Ablondi was fourth holding off Gomez. With three laps to go Revere put the pass on Doman to take — and keep — second place. With two to go, Gomez leapt from fifth to third as he dispatched Doman and Ablondi. But this is Daytona, which means not much is decided until the last lap; Doman snatched third place back from Gomez (who nonetheless could be happy, since he had started deep in the field). Ablondi was a close fifth.
Sweet mother of God this was a close one, eight laps of frenetic action. ‘Course, it all began at the start, when they went five-wide after the green. Gomez officially crossed the line in P1. On the second lap, David Libby spun and four-offed in the Bust Stop, but up front, Duerson was first across the line — and second through fifth hit the line all at the same time! By the third lap the transponders were showing Duerson first, Revere Greist second, Doman third, Duncan Ende fourth and Brent Milner fifth. Fourth lap, Milner briefly took over fourth with a move on Ende down into One but, but Ende drafted back past before they hit the line. On the fifth go-round, Doman deposited both Duerson and Greist to take the lead. The next two laps it stayed Doman, Duerson, Greist up front, with Ende, Traver and Milner right there. Now it’s the last lap, with typical Daytona action. Duerson grabs the lead from Doman in the Bus Stop but there’s NASCAR 3 and 4 still to go. It’s a three car battle to the line! And the winner is… Revere Greist, just .065 over Duerson who was just .046 in front of Doman who was just .674 in front of Traver who was just .038 ahead of Ende who was just .635 up on Milner. Yep, it was close…
First lap, Jack Aten takes the lead over Ricky Taylor (one of the young sons of Wayne Taylor, who was in the process of clinching the 2005 Rolex title at the Grand-Am race weekend in Mexico City) and Michel Garrido, with Yannick Hofman fourth and Steve Rooyakkers fifth. On lap two Taylor and Garrido are nose to tail through the Bus Stop — and Garrido takes over second on the front straight coming to the stripe. By the fourth lap Garrido is all over the back of Aten. He attempts a pass in T1 but tucks in behind instead. Then Aten slides through Turn Five which lets Garrido close in. The next time around Rooyakkers goes four-off after Garrido stacked the entire field up trying to make a pass on Aten — which he made stick. Meanwhile, Taylor makes a classic rookie mistake: his left hand knocks the startkey down, and he pits thinking his car lost power… On lap six Hofman dumps his third place away when he spins and goes four-off, handing P3 to Michael Fabregat. Meanwhile Aten closes up in the infield but loses ground in the Bus Stop to leader Garrido and can never really make a legitimate move over the final three laps, finishing a bit less than a second in arrears. Fabregat is a solid third over George Ebel, while Scott Speed — er, I mean, Chris Quick — comes fifth. Rooyakkers drafts past Hofman to just nip him for sixth (by .034 of a second). Tim George and Taylor rounded out the field.
Garrido made this one look easy, taking the point at the start and then rocketing to a comfy lead. Fabregat also got pedaling right away, taking second from Aten before they hit the stripe to end the first lap. It was Garrido, Fabregat, Aten the top three, but behind them Rooyakkers, Ebel, Hofman and Taylor were dukin’ and dicin’. On lap three, fourth place Rooooooooooyakkers got waaaaaaaaaaay wide exiting Two on the way to the Horseshoe and lost three places (a lap later, a four-off ended his chance to fight for a podium). Fourth lap, Hofman is scored P4 in a four-wide pack across the line. The next time by, Taylor grabs P3 from Aten right at the line and goes after Fabregat like his pants are on fire. He goes side-by-side with Michael through Six … and takes second place. By this time, with three more laps to go, it’s too late to go after a perfect-driving Garrido, so that was your podium: Garrido, Taylor (in a fine makeup for his Saturday miscue) and Fabregat. Ebel was awesome as he climbed to fourth, but Aten’s fade to fifth shows the vagaries — and luck — of the draft don’t always go your way. Hofman salvaged sixth, while Rooyakkers, Quick and Tim George rounded out the field.
Michel Garrido (c.), an entrant in the upcoming Karting Scholarship Shoot-out, won twice in what was his Race Series debut. This is Sunday’s podium: Ricky Taylor (r.), a Wayne son you can trust, got second place coming from the last row, while Michael Fabregat (l.) was third. Taylor and Fabregat are also new to the Series.
Yet another frantic Daytona thriller, which was a race-long thrilla between Carlos Llano, Michael Gomez, Andrew Carbonell, John Greist and John Peterson. Here are Kelly’s race notes… Lap 1- Andrew leads into T1… Lap 2, Carlos takes the lead.. Andrew all over the back of Llano… Lap 3: Three wide at the stripe for the lead! Andrew takes the lead from Carlos in Two… Pass/repass in Turn Six for the leaders… Gomez tries to pop for P2 — and then P1 — and takes the lead! Lap 4- Andrew pops for the lead… Carlos falls back to P4, nine-car train for the lead… Andre Villerreal spins in T5… Three-wide for P5 in the Bus Stop! Lap 5 Carlos catches the leaders in Five and is on the charge… pops for the lead in NASCAR 2 — and gits ‘er done! Lap 6, it’s three wide again at the stripe… turns into a four-car train for the lead in T2. Side-by-side action in T5 for P2… and Gomez takes P2. Lap 7 Carbonell doesn’t give up P2 and gets shuffled back to P5 by the stripe… Lap 8: Carbonell goes four-off out of P4 in the Horseshoe… So it’s Llano — his first Series win — over Gomez by .153 of a second, who was about a half-second up on Greist (the ьberMaster started 15th, mind you!). Peterson was fourth, Dom Bastien a fine fifth. Carbonell? He ended up ninth.
Bastien was brilliant at the start, shooting to the lead from the third row, but Llano then Peterson got past Bastien before they crossed the line to end the first lap. Gomez and Andre Villareal touched on lap two and their resultant safety checks took them out of contention. On lap three, Bastien again briefly took the lead from Llano, but again, by the time they crossed the line it was still Llano and Peterson in front, Bastien third. In fact, these three guys were drafting and swapping the lead so much on the banking it was hard to keep track, but officially across the start-finish line, Llano led laps two through eight. But at Daytona, in front is the last place you want to be when it comes to the last lap. Cagey Peterson knows that and he got past Llano to take the win. And on that last lap, Bastien was tagged by Carbonell so although Dom crossed third and Andrew fourth, after the requisite 20-second penalties, P3 went to Ted Ballou, who had quietly but decisively gone from 11th at the close of lap one up to fifth on the track at the finish. Milner and David Harris rounded out the top five.
Miles Bell led every lap, but his MoV over P2 Alex Bolanos was just 1.6 seconds. Bolanos was charging: he picked off five cars on the first lap, then got another one car per lap over the next three. And his fastest lap was two seconds faster than anyone else! Meanwhile, there was lots of action, side-by-side dicing, spins, two- and four-offs between Rhonda Hill, Yuta Wada, Art Ringel, Dane Moxlow … At one point mid-race, Moxlow and Wada had contact, so when the checker flew over Bell, Bolanos and Wada, it was David Stubbs grabbing the P3 honors after Wada’s 20-second penalty was factored in. Bo Yaghmaie was fifth, with Moxlow and Hill sixth and seventh.
On the first lap, when Hill made a pass in the Bus Stop it didn’t quite work out and she spun. Moxlow and Craig Walters were forced to go agricultural and they both ended up in the fence. So after five laps of FCY, the race began again at the start of lap six, Bell your leader, Stubbs second, Wada third. But the next time around, Bell threw his lead away, going dirt in the Bus Stop! Now Stubbs was at the point, but that lasted just one lap as What About Wada? wrangled the lead and put a second a lap on P2 — Stubbs and Bell fighting mightily helped make that happen — to win by 3 seconds over Stubbs. Bell rang up third, followed by Yaghmaie and Hill.
Triple Crown Race
A wonderful mix of 14 Sportsman- and Championship-class drivers threw their helmets into the Triple Crown ring. On the first lap P3-starting John Peterson got all four wheels dirty and Jeff Kaiser went from fifth to second, and after that all I can tell you was… it was busy. Tim Traver and Mike Gomez ran one-two from the second lap onward, second-starting Brent Milner had a mechanical and had to park it after two laps, Duncan Ende flew from almost last to third place in a heartbeat, David Harris alternated between fourth and fifth place the whole race. When it came down to it, Gomez executed a last-lap pass on Traver to win, with Ende’s brilliant drive ending with a third. Yannick Hofman was the top Sportsman, in a fine seventh.
The Rosa Parks Memorial
Check this out: We threw out the Bus Stop for the Memorial, which pretty much gave the R/Ts full reign. From the apex of Six until going for the brakes for One, the drivers were flat for more than 50 seconds! Factor in the draft and we were probably seeing 133 mph. Jim Pace, a pure rookie (though he’s been racing radio-controlled dune buggies for a few years) who had never turned a wheel at Daytona, shocked everyone with his drive from 11th on the grid to a last lap third-to-first move for the victory. David Libby got second with a fine effort, while another unknown, Matt Franc, was third.
Hey, how cool is it that we get to race on the high banks of Daytona, following in the wheel tracks of legends from NASCAR and top-level sports car racing? Skip Barber Race Series competitors join a very elite group of drivers who can say they’ve gone wheel-to-wheel at Daytona….
Coming up: December 2-4 are rounds three and four of the Southern Series, at Moroso, a track and facility that the owners continue to improve year after year. It will also be round two of the Triple Crown. The following weekend (Dec. 9-11) are the Western Series’ third and fourth races of the year (and its second Triple Crown race). See you soon…
Warning! Blatant Commercial Pitch Ahead!
Here’s a not-so-subtle reminder that Skip Barber Racing School Gift Certificates — and our apparel and merchandise — make terrific holiday gifts. You can click right here and it will take you direct to the Skip Barber “storefront.”
It’s not uncommon for the world’s most famous, fastest drivers to show up at a Skip Barber series weekend. At Daytona, Rubens Barrichello came by to watch and Todd was able to get a photo. Okay, it’s not the best shot he’s ever taken…