The Moroso Race Weekend
Wednesday, December 07, 2005 Moroso has always been one of the hallmarks of the Southern Series. The people that run the track are great and the place gets better every time we visit. Moroso is not a high-grip track, so car control skills are paramount.
This was rounds three and four of the 2005-2006 championship, as well as the second round of the Southern Triple Crown. We had 40+ drivers: two Sportsman groups and one Championship group. Congrats to two first-time winners; Ricky Taylor and Jay Fuchs! Also, we had two “rookies” in operations, both of whom did superb jobs. Rick Ratajczak was Race Control, and Walt Bohren was Pit Lane Coordinator. Their baptisms of fire went off without a hitch…
Ricky Taylor and Mike Gomez were on the front row and the first lap was hot, Taylor leading Miles Bell and Eric Freiberg, Gomez having been shuffled back to fourth. But during that first lap Taylor locked up going into the chicane – he may have flat-spotted his BFGs – and by the second lap Gomez was back in the hunt. He got around Taylor in Two for the lead on lap three while Bell (who had fallen to fourth on lap two) took over P3. For the next couple of laps the top four ran in lockstep: Gomez, Taylor, Bell and Freiberg (gapping fifth-place Dane Moxlow). Then on lap six, Freiberg overcooked T2 and had to take the shortcut. He duly came into the pits so we could rejoin him in the proper track position. Two laps later, P3 Bell spun but did not go four-off; he recovered quickly enough to lose just one spot. Meanwhile, Taylor was trying to set up Gomez and on lap nine he got him going into Turn Two, pulling away from him after Gomez got hamstrung by lapped traffic five laps from the end. Freiberg was a distant third, just in front of Bell. Moxlow was an unharried fifth. Way to go Ricky, getting his first Race Series win.
This was even more of a barn-burner between Gomez and Taylor. Gomez got a better launch than Taylor and grabbed the lead – and they went at it! Hub to hub, nose to tail, each giving the other just enough room. Freiberg had consolidated third place, in front of Steve Rooyakkers (then a rocketing, P10-starting Jim Lowe, who had gotten past The Roo on lap eight), but on the10th of the 15-lap race, Freiberg put his #86 into the tires in Turn Two, elevating Lowe to third place. Up front it was frenetic: Gomez led laps one to three, Taylor four and five, Gomez six and seven, Taylor eight through 11. Gomez finally got the point for good with a move in Turn Six and held on the final four laps, finishing .371 of a second up on Wayne’s boy. Lowe looked to have third place wrapped up but on lap 12 he spun in Six. He wasn’t sure if he had gone four-off – he hadn’t – so he came in, which gave The Roo P3. George Ebel was a fine fourth, Julia Landauer racing well to garner fifth.
This was a fairly big group – 16 starters – with Carlos Llano on pole and David Libby alongside. The first couple of laps were nuts, four-offs and contact happening mid-pack and back, and Craig Duerson had leapt from P3 to lead the first lap. Mike Gomez (see G1) was also entered into this Championship group and snatched the lead on lap two, but then oofed the next time around when he had to shortcut Turn Two. That mistake put Duerson in the lead and Llano in P2, where they both remained for the duration. The battle for third place was a different matter, where at various times Libby had it (until lap eight, when Alex Doman punted him in the chicane), then Roger Cote, then Brent Milner. With two laps to go, Cote got back around Milner to take the final podium spot, having come all the way from 10th at the start, while Gomez impressed by coming back from his early mistake to take fourth. Michel Garrido marched all the way from 13th on the grid to a solid fifth. Duerson’s win was in his typical fashion, putting up the fastest race-lap (1:37.872) that was a good half-second better then the next best (Doman’s :38.357).
Duerson won this one in flag-to-flag fashion, 3.2 seconds up on second place Cote. Libby’s drive was the electric one, as he knocked off seven cars in the first four laps (13th to fifth), then picked off Gomez on lap seven, then Llano on lap 13 to take over third. Llano just held off a charging John Peterson, whose sixth place was just 1.1 seconds behind Llano’s fifth.
Craig Duerson’s young son Hayden and Yannick Hofman put on a tremendous show in this contest, one that had a major twist post-race…
Hofman had taken pole, Jay Fuchs P2, with David Stubbs and Tim George making up row two. Duerson crashed in qualifying so he was starting 10th of 11. At the start and through the first lap there was some spinning, some four-offing and some paint-trading, but when they crossed the line the first time, Hofman was your leader, sixth-starting Manuel Gutierrez was second and – Lordy! – Duerson third. Within two more laps, Duerson dispatched Gutierrez for P2 but by this time Hofman had a three to four second lead and Duerson wasn’t really taking any bites out of it. But when we had to go FCY on lap eight to yank a high-centered spinner, Duerson now had a chance to dice for the lead. Which is exactly what Hofman and Duerson did over the last eight laps, to the delight of the crowd. One in front of the other at different parts of the track (although you only saw “#70,” Duerson, as the lap-chart leader). Great stuff and when the checker flew, it was Duerson, Hofman, Gutierrez. But wait, there’s more… When the cars came in, it was obvious – bent wing, tire marks – that Duerson had had contact. Turns out it was during the first lap, when some cars in front of Duerson had gotten cattywampus and Hayden couldn’t avoid. Which means he ended up with a 20-second penalty, putting him fifth. Your winner was Hofman, followed by Gutierrez, Craig McIntyre and George.
Boy, here was a nailbiter! Star reporters Keith Dalton and Linda Snyder have race notes that best describe the action… “Lap 1, Hofman leads, Gutierrez and McIntrye behind… Lap 4, Hayden [Duerson] works his way up to P3… Hayden extends his and takes P2…Lap 5, Hayden keeps working on the gap! … Lap 6, McIntyre really pushing for P3 – great battle going into Chicane… but no one makes a move… Lap 7, P3 is a very close battle – good racing! Yannick keeps increasing his lead… Lap 8, Turn 2 – McIntyre passes Manuel… Lap 9, Jay Fuchs (from 10th) catches Polidori… Lap 10, T2, Fuchs gets around Polidori for fifth…Lap 11, T7 Tim George spins and David Stubbs hits him. Looks like Stubbs is done. Lap 12, FCY…Lap 13, restart… Lap 15, Fuchs passes Hayden and closes in on Yannick! Last Lap, Yannick gets sideways and Fuchs gets underneath in the Chicane! Fuchs pulls away… FIRST TIME WINNER!! Hofman, Duerson, Gutierrez, McIntyre round out the top five…
How cool was this: Jay Fuchs has been racing with us for a while, but his family had never been able to come see him race. However, they were able to come to Moroso — and Jay won his first race! We know who we’re going to see in pit lane at Homestead, don’t we…
Southern Series Triple Crown, Race Two
‘‘The start: Side by side, nose to tail, oh, my… they make it – amazingly – through Turn Two… big stack-up in T3! But single file exiting Four…’’ That’s how the Triple Crown race started, with Mike Gomez on pole, Brent Milner alongside, ‘’Doppler Dave’’ and John Peterson on row two. After the hold-your-breath start, Gomez led the first three laps, then DD (okay, real name: Dave Lunnenberg, one of the Skippy wrenches) snatched the lead and motored on to a 7-second MoV. Gomez finished second, Milner third, followed by John Peterson, Duncan Ende, Alex Bolanos, Yannick Hofman, George Ebel, David Stubbs, Tim George and Chris Hill (an MDNF). It was a solid win for Lunnenberg – but it won’t get him anywhere in the Triple Crown points standings (he missed the first round). Gomez’s P2 increased his points lead, Ende has moved to second and Hofman is third overall and first in Sportsman. Peterson is now fourth, while Milner moved up a bunch, to fifth. Hill, Ebel and Stubbs round out the only players left in the Triple Crown chase, with the finale set for Homestead-Miami Speedway in early January.
The Pat Morita (Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (as Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita)) Memorial (you know, the ‘‘Karate Kid’’ Japanese teacher-guy…)
David Libby outfoxed the field, going from fourth on the grid to lead the first lap – and the following 15 – to win the Memorial. Old hand John Pew strutted his experienced stuff too, going from ninth to second, and 2005 Skip Barber National champion Gerardo Bonilla sliced to P3 from 11th. Hayden Duerson and Laura Rowe rounded out the top five.
This weekend (Dec. 9-11) we’re at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for rounds three and four of the Western championship, and round two of its Triple Crown challenge. Next for the Southern Series: January 6-7-8, at the way cool Homestead-Miami Speedway, where we’re using the Grand-Am configuration (that means you rocket down the entire back straight, get good g through NASCAR turns 3 & 4, then fly down most of the front straight before whistling into the infield portion). This Race Weekend is also the third annual Skip Barber U.S. Regional Run-off – there’s still time to enter, so call your Series Advisor for details – and the third, title-deciding Southern Series Triple Crown race.
Reminder for the Holidays…
Skip Barber Racing School Gift Certificates — and our apparel and merchandise — make terrific holiday gifts. Click here to go direct to the Skip Barber “storefront.”
Words: Ricky Lusso; Pix: “Eleven”