Speed outlasts Gidley to take "Stars Of Tomorrow" win at Sears Point; Montinola celebrates Western Regional Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. DETROIT (APRIL 23, 2002) - Despite a last minute decision to run and tough competition from a...
Speed outlasts Gidley to take "Stars Of Tomorrow" win at Sears Point; Montinola celebrates Western Regional Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
DETROIT (APRIL 23, 2002) - Despite a last minute decision to run and tough competition from a full field, including Champ Car driver Memo Gidley, Scott Speed returned to his 2001 Championship form last weekend in the "Stars of Tomorrow" ICC 125 Class by winning at the new Sears Point Karting Center in Sonoma, California. Speed - who moved up the CART Ladder this season to the Formula Dodge National Championship - used lapped traffic to his advantage late in the 25-lap race to move from fourth to first and the eventual race win.
Benny Moon of Shingle Springs, California and Gidley led the 35-kart field as the green flag fell for the standing start. Gidley stormed off to a clean beginning as Moon hesitated and fell back immediately to third with Speed making a move around him before reaching Turn One. Speed attempted to stay with Gidley, but fell back into the grasp of Jason Bowles, eventually losing second place to the Ontario, California native on the fourth lap.
Gidley continued to lead but due to an overheating engine, he could not take advantage of the wheel to wheel battles behind him and pull away. A virtual freight train of Bowles, Speed, Moon, David Mayhew, Tom Woods and Ron White wound its way around the track with each driver looking for the smallest mistake or opening to take advantage of and gain a position. Speed would make contact with Bowles as he attempted a pass on the infield hairpin, causing him to lose a position back to fourth and Bowles all the way back to seventh, giving Moon and Woods second and third position, respectively.
Not content with third place, Woods dove to the inside of Moon as the pair headed into Turn One. While making the pass, his kart went wide on exit, allowing Moon to slip back by as the pair raced towards Turn Two. However, their jostling allowed Speed to gain ground and overtake both of them in a thrilling three-wide run into the Turn Two Chicane.
Now in second, Speed set his sights on Gidley, whose engine was still overheating. As he approached the leader, two slower karts collided, forcing Gidley to make an extreme evasive maneuver, taking him off the racing line and into a dirty portion of the track. While Gidley successfully avoided the accident, he found himself in sixth position by the time his kart was back up to racing speed.
Now out in front, Speed would hold the point until the checkered flag fell despite Moon's last lap efforts, which left him .47 seconds behind. White took advantage of late passes over Mayhew and Woods to capture the final podium position, while Woods moved up to take fourth place and Gidley recovered from his offline adventure to post a fifth place finish.
"It was unfortunate what happened to Memo, we had a good battle shaping up," commented Speed, currently second in points behind Burt Frisselle after four rounds of the Formula Dodge National Championship. "It looked like he had no choice but to avoid the back markers, and I almost ended up in the same situation as him."
"This is the best kart track I have ever driven on," continued Speed, who just one week earlier scored his first FDNC win at Fontana. "The track's width and layout, combined with these ICC motors, was bound to produce some tight, close racing."
Andrew Alfonso and Erik Bartolero battled down to the wire in the Rotax Max Class, with Alfonso edging Bartolero by just .065 seconds. In the 80cc Junior Class, Cole Nelson got to the line just ahead of Alan Sciuto by .244 seconds, with third place Justin Moon (Benny's brother) .531 second behind.
BEST IN THE WEST
The final standings of the Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship certainly reads like a "Who's who" of National Championship contenders, with Robbie Montinola recently wrapping up the Western Regional title during the final double race weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. Montinola, currently eighth in National Championship standings, won the Western Championship with 247 points and nine race wins over Burt Frisselle, Justin Blower and Al Unser.
Frisselle, who currently holds the FDNC points lead after 4 of 13 rounds, came up short despite scoring 197 points and five wins. Blower, currently tied in eighth place with Montinola in FDNC points, rounded out the Western Region top three with 192 points and five wins. Unser, currently third in FDNC points, finished fourth in the Western Region with 181 points and six wins.
All four will now focus their full attention on the remaining nine rounds of the National Championship and the Barber CART Scholarship that will award a paid ride in the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series to the 2002 FDNC Champion - worth an estimated $190,000.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship prepares for its next action May 31-June 2 during the Miller Lite 250 at the historic Milwaukee Mile. In the mean time, many of the top teams will test in efforts to gain a competitive advantage for the stretch of 10 races in 14 weeks, including three separate stretches of three races in a row.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series will return to action May 24-27 in the Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. With over two months between races, all of the top drivers, including Leo Maia, Julio Campos, AJ Allmendinger, Marc Breuers and Davy Cook have participated in open testing days at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the Formula Dodge National Championship will be contested May 10-12 at the Putnam Park Motorsports Complex, about 25 miles west of Indianapolis. Scott Speed and Ward Imrie will look to follow up their recent wins at Fontana and close the points gap between themselves and leader Burt Frisselle.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. CART also sanctions the Barber Dodge Pro Series as part of a marketing partnership with Skip Barber, LLC. For more information about the CART Ladder System, log onto www.cart.com and click on the links to the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series, Formula Dodge National Championship and Stars of Tomorrow.