Western Series Opener at MRLS
Tuesday, November 06, 2007 A quick FYI for Western & Southern Series competitors: We’ve had to change tracks and in one case, the date, for the season finales for both championships.
For the Western Series, the finale will be at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (replacing Miller Motorsports Park). The date remains the same, April 4-6.
For the Southern Series, both the track and the date have changed. The finale will be March 28-30 (replacing April 11-13) at Sebring International Raceway (replacing Daytona).
FOUR FIRST-TIME WINNERS AS 2007-2008 WESTERN SERIES BEGINS
The opening two rounds of the 2007-2008 Western Series were at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the first weekend of November. There were two Sportsman groups and one championship group, and not only was the weather great, we saw four first-time winners – Ricky Eberhardt, Kevin Woods, Danny Lazo Parras and Sarena Traver. Congrats all around! Below is a brief overview of the weekend…
Ricky Eberhardt hadn’t raced with Skip Barber since 2004 but he took the lead from the second row on the first lap and went wire to wire in what was his first SBRS win. In the early laps Seiichiro Kita ran second until he was put back a spot by brand new guy Kevin Woods. But Woods spun and went four-off in Turn Two and after rejoining, he got into the back of Walter Kuhn in the Turn 11 hairpin. After three laps of FCY, the re-start saw Eberhardt leading, followed by Kita, Ethan Stone, Ross Jaffe and James Bailey. Over the last eight laps the top three didn’t change – Eberhardt crossed the line four seconds up on Kita, who was .8 of a second in front of Stone – but jaffe and Frank Cusack (from DFL on the grid) moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively, when Bailey spun. But two late-race spins by Cusack wasted that effort, with Zureck taking advantage to finish fifth behind Jaffe.
Eberhardt led early, trailed by Jaffe, Woods, Kita and Stone. Zurek spun and brushed the T3 wall on lap two, which meant Kuhn needed a big lane toss and the resultant four-off to avoid. Things were hunky-dory for six laps until leader Eberhardt got it all wrong in the Andretti hairpin! Two laps of full course yellow followed, while we freed up Eberhardt and got the lead sorted out. On the re=start it was Jaffe, Woods and Cusack your top three. But when Woods made his pass on Jaffe on lap 11, that would be the last lead change, as the contenders got in trouble. Stone fell off the road in Four, then Cusack and Jaffe had a meeting of the metal and fiberglass in Turn 11. All that action and resulting pitting meant Kuhn, who had been pedaling hard since his early contact, was now P2! Meanwhile, George Morales had been quietly creeping up from the last row of the grid and snatched a fine third place, with Kita and Cusack rounding out the top five. Woods’ victory was particularly impressive, as this was his first Skip Barber Race Weekend.
It was a good, clean, tight start and a good couple of opening laps, with Uncle Tom Roberts leading and Emil Sildos and Gary Manheimer tussling over second. But G.M. put it in the fence in T4 and so race control dialed up two laps of FCY. The re-start to begin lap five had Roberts leading Sildos over Gary ‘‘Hank’’ Williams, Jr., with Victor Carbone and John ‘‘Harry’’ Potter rounding out the top five. Although the racing was good and close – Roberts beat Sildos by just .17 of a second – the only change was a nice last-lap move by Connor DePhillippi on Potter to grab fifth place.
This was a wondrously furious and entertaining dice during the first half of the race between Roberts, Carbone, Sildos and DePhillippi. But when leader at the time Roberts spun in Nine, at least six others behind him either spun, crashed or four-offed. Nobody was hurt, but a red had to be called for. After everything was cleaned up, four guys were done for the day: DePhillippi, John Scalmanini, Sara Ferris and Gray Gregory. The leader of the last green flag lap was Carbone, so he, Sildos and Jeff Kaiser went at it following the re-start. With two to go, Sildos got Carbone for the lead and the gnat’s eyelash win, with Kaiser P3. Williams and Hamilton Smith brought ‘em home fourth and fifth, respectively.
After an early full course yellow to take care of Max Riddle’s oof in Turn Four, erstwhile leaders Daniel Lazo Parras, Tyler Schaal and David Protelsch were moved to the back of the field for passing the pace car. That made Dennis Rock the leader on the re-start, with Kevin ‘‘Y.A.’’ Tittle second and Sarena Traver third. Two laps later Rock was still on point and Traver was steady in second but things changed a bunch for P3: Tittle went agricultural in Turn Four while Protelsch was leaping from 10th to sixth to third. But that only lasted one lap as he couldn’t make it work in T10. On that same lap, Traver took the lead and D.L. Parras, recovering from his pace car error, was now up to second! Also back on the move was Schaal, who was now in fourth, chasing down Rock. The next lap, Traver succumbed to Parras – but she took the lead right back on the very next lap. But DLP wanted the lead back in a hurry and so took it on lap 10 — then drove away. Traver kept her P2, ahead of Rock. But Schaal hounded him and with three laps to go took third place from Rock, who had a big gap on fifth-place Russ McGrane. First-time win for Parras – well, well done.
This had the look of being a flag-to-flagger for DLP, who was leading Traver, in turn leading Schaal. But on the slowest corner of the track – 11 – Mr. Parras went four-off. The ensuing pit gave the lead and the win to Traver, DLP salvaging second place, with Schaal a green-to-checker third. First time win, too, for Mrs. Traver. Way to go! … Meanwhile, Riddle was really doing the job, coming from ninth place at the end of lap one to fourth at the checker. Rock and Protelsch crossed the line next, but late-race contact in the Corkscrew wasn’t paid for by the required pit, so the time penalty moved those two to sixth and seventh, giving fifth to Tittle.
The Robert Goulet Memorial
Kaiser, Rene Villeneuve, Gregory and Carbone went at it early – Rene having come from shotgun on the field to second place on the first lap – but Kaiser got a chance to drive away once Villeneuve and Carbone started going at it for second. Rene took the spot two laps from the end. Fourth on the track and first in Sportsman was Riddle, who had Gregory just a few feet off his gearbox at the checker.
The opener for the Southern Series – and the first-ever Skip Barber MX-5 Cup race group! – is just around the corner, November 17-18 at Road Atlanta. Two weeks after that (December 1-2), the Western Series goes back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for rounds three and four. Working non-stop, the Skip Barber Southern crew puts on the December 15-16 Sebring event.
Also, we want our Race Series drivers – and their friends and their families — to know that Christmas and holiday gift certificates are on sale now. Anyone can save between $100 and $500 on the nine most-popular school programs by purchasing between now and December 31. Click here or here for more details.
In the meantime, think fast…