Breuers wins first Barber Dodge race at Mid-Ohio. (Lexington, Ohio) August 11-Marc Breuers had only one way to stay in the running for the Barber Dodge Pro Series season championship, and that was to win the race and have A.J. Allmendinger...
Breuers wins first Barber Dodge race at Mid-Ohio.
(Lexington, Ohio) August 11-Marc Breuers had only one way to stay in the running for the Barber Dodge Pro Series season championship, and that was to win the race and have A.J. Allmendinger finish in fourth place or lower. Breuers held up his end of the bargain by taking his first-ever Barber Dodge win, but Allmendinger didn't, finishing on the podium behind Breuers and Rafael Sperafico to clinch the 2002 season championship at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. The race featured constant battles from the front of the pack to the rear, with the field keeping in touch and often running nose to tail on the twisty 2.258-mile permanent road course in Lexington, Ohio.
Dan Di Leo finished in fourth place with Leo Maia coming home fifth in his Quaker State machine. Josh Rehm continued his streak of top-ten finishes for the season with his sixth place finish, while Cleveland round winner Davy Cook finished seventh. Mexico City, Mexico's German Quiroga gave the debut of his Gigante colors a fine run to eighth place while John Vannini had a strong run from 16th starting position to notch a top ten finish as Memo Rojas came across the stripe in tenth place in his Telmex-sponsored machine.
The win is Breuers' first in Barber Dodge competition, and while the results meant the end of his championship hopes, Breuers was elated with taking his first win in the category.
"I am really happy to get this win," said Breuers. I have to congratulate A.J. on winning the championship, he has had a great season. I am really so happy to take my first win for Sunoco and for everyone who has supported me to get to this position. I knew what I had to do today, and did it. It's a bit of a surprise since I don't normally run that well here, so heading into Road America, where I feel really comfortable, I am hoping to get another win and solidify my place in the standings for the season.
Laguna Seca round winner Rafael Sperafico, who has battled with back pain all weekend, was happy with his ability to make the most of every opportunity as it came to him during the race after starting in fourth and converting it to second place, his fourth visit to the podium this season.
"It was a good race for me. I just wanted to get by everyone, and when Campos made a mistake in 14, I was able to take advantage and get by," said Sperafico. "I also was able to get past Christian when Marc passed him and I could follow him through. At the end, I was just trying to keep AJ behind me since I couldn't make anything up on Marc."
Allmendinger ran in the top five during the entire race, but was only able to secure his third place finish in the late stages of the race.
"I want to congratulate Marc on his first win, its certainly well deserved," said Allmendinger. "I also need to thank my mechanic Ken and the Barber Dodge crew for getting my car fixed for me last night after I had the accident yesterday. I also want to thank Barry Waddell and the engineering staff with Barber Dodge for coaching me to where I feel much more comfortable with working on my setups. I am just so relieved to have the championship settled. It was a lot of hard work all season."
When asked why he was challenging Sperafico in the late stages of the race even though he was already in the championship-clinching third spot, Allmendinger confessed that he really can't stop charging.
"I am a race car driver, so I wanted to get by him. At the same time, I knew that didn't want to throw it away with a bad move, so I ended up not finding my way by."
Championship Auto Racing Series CEO Chris Pook joined the Barber Dodge Pro Series podium ceremonies to congratulate Allmendinger on taking the championship.
"We are delighted to crown the first champion in CART for the 2002 season," said Pook. "You are a tremendous talent and we look forward to seeing you move up into Atlantics or maybe one of these Champcar teams will have a look at you and give you a test. "
Pole sitter Christian Szymczak led the field to the green flag and the field got through the first lap cleanly despite all the jockeying for position throughout the field. Breuers made a strong move on the outside of turn seven to move himself up from the fifth starting spot into third place by the end of the first lap. Allmendinger did not get a good start to his race as he fell from the second starting position back into fourth by the end of the first lap. The battles began early, as Sperafico put the pressure on Allmendinger, passing him in the braking zone to turn seven before Allmendinger fought back and the two ran side by side through turns eight and nine before Allmendinger retook the spot.
Breuers continued his charge to the front by drafting Julio Campos on the long run up into the Keyhole corner and outbraking him at the entry of the turn. Sperafico was not done harassing Allmendinger, and he made the pass stick on lap four to demote Allmendinger to the fifth position as Breuers began to reel in Szymzcak and apply pressure to him, keeping on his tail and in his mirrors. Szymzcak was not phased, though, and kept Breuers at bay for the next five laps.
Meanwhile, the lead pack was comprised of positions one through ten, with no more than two and a half seconds between the first place and tenth place car. Davy Cook made an outstanding outside pass on Leo Maia to take the seventh position. The lead pack continued on, as Di Leo pressured Allmendinger for his fifth spot with Maia running in seventh closely behind the two as Breuers continued to keep pace behind Szymczak and wait for his opportunity to get by.
Breuers had a run at Szymczak going into turn seven, but the polesitter was able to keep the inside line going into turn eight and keep the lead. Breuers gave it another shot on the very next lap, and made it work to take the lead for good as he quickly began to stretch his lead out over the rest of the field by over a second on his first lap as the leader.
"It looked like his car was sliding around some, so I was just trying to be patient to pick a good time to get by, said Breuers. "Christian raced me clean and left me exactly as much room as I needed to make the pass."
Szymczak saw his race begin to come apart as his cooling system was leaking fluids after debris had punctured the radiator, and his car suffered mightily. His competitors were quick to take advantage, demoting him to fourth after he lost the lead to Breuers and moving Allmendinger into fourth, one spot away from where he needed to be to get the championship.
Julio Campos, who was running in second behind Breuers, spun and moved himself all the way back down to twelfth spot before he was able to get back on track. Campos went quickly about getting himself back to the front of the field, recovering two positions in the next two laps before pushing too hard and getting wide in turn 11 and sliding into the curbing, which sent the car off track and into the outside retaining wall and then spinning back onto the track, forcing several drivers to make big evasive maneuvers to avoid the spinning car. Campos got out of the car unscathed, but the lead that Breuers had amassed was now erased as the Dodge Viper Pace Car gathered the field to allow the Simple Green Safety Team to get the car clear of the track and the fluids cleaned off the course. The spin moved Szymczak back into the third spot with Allmendinger still in fourth.
The cleanup left Breuers with six laps remaining in the race to defend the top spot, and the Philadelphia native made the most of the restart as he got a jump on the second place car of Sperafico as they sped back to the green flag with Czymczak following in third, who caught back up to Breuers as they entered the Keyhole and had a look inside, but Breuers held on and kept Sperafico at bay.
Szymczak had to pit, as the problem with his car forced him to give up the fight. This moved Allmendinger into the third spot, clinching the championship over Breuers and ending Szymczak's strong weekend.
"Marc did a really good job under braking to get by me, and I held him off the first time, but the second time, he had too much for me" said Szymczak. "It's unfortunate that I ended up having the mechanical problem since this would have been a good result for me. I am looking forward to getting back up front at Road America."
The Barber Dodge Pro Series will race again next weekend at Road America as the season enters its final two weekends of competition.The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of CART. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.
To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.