Monterrey: Race notes

Martinez goes flag to flag for win in Monterrey. MONTERREY, Mexico (March 22, 2003)- David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico won the second round of the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship leading every lap to take a flag-to-flag win at ...

Martinez goes flag to flag for win in Monterrey.

MONTERREY, Mexico (March 22, 2003)- David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico won the second round of the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship leading every lap to take a flag-to-flag win at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. Polesitter Leonardo Maia came home second to extend his championship points lead, with Telmex pilot Memo Rojas taking his second consecutive third place finish this season to move into second in the points. Colin Fleming of North Hills, California finished fourth with Nelson Philippe of Velence, France taking his first-ever top five finish in Barber Dodge competition.

Canadian Dan Di Leo recovered from a first-lap off-course excursion to finish sixth, with Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Scott Poirier taking seventh. German Quiroga brought his Gigante-liveried machine home in eighth with fellow Mexican Luis Pelayo finishing ninth. Chris Baker of Houston, Texas, took the tenth finishing spot after overcoming mechanical issues early in the weekend.

Martinez, who had just one start in the Barber Dodge Pro Series before this weekend, at Cleveland in 1998, took the lead at the start of the race, and never looked back, building up a six second lead over Leo Maia and the rest of the field. Martinez had but one goal for the race, to win in front of his home crowd, and was excited to have done so. In taking the win, Martinez is the first Mexican driver to win an international race in Mexico.

"I knew that I had to find a hole at the start to get by Leo, and fortunately, I found one," said Martinez. "Leo has been fast all weekend, so I wanted to get the lead because if he did, it would have been really difficult to pass him. Once I did on the first lap, I just got into a rhythm that was comfortable for me, and before I knew it, there was a good gap behind me. I wasn't to happy when the yellow came out, even though I knew I had a fast car if we went back to green, but I am really happy with this win in my hometown. Its really a dream for me."

Maia was disappointed not to have converted his pole position into a win, but knows how important points are in the season-long championship battle.

"I wanted to be on the left side at the start, and was, but when I went to turn in to the first corner, David was already there," said Maia. "I had to think about the championship right then, since I knew I could have ended my race right there. David ran a really good race from then on and I just concentrated on getting the points. I tried to make up some time on him, and was hoping that I was going to have another chance to race him after the yellow came out, but since we ended under the yellow, I didn't get the chance. I'm looking forward to the next race in Milwaukee and working on building a points gap to everyone."

Memo Rojas, of Mexico City, Mexico, joined Martinez and Maia on the podium after fending off a late charge from Colin Fleming. Rojas' mechanic, Tayler Hook, won the Barber Dodge Technician of the Race award, which is given out each race weekend to the race team member who distinguishes themselves with the strongest performance in the very demanding car preparation that is required of the hardest working crew in racing.

Rojas was nearly as excited for Hook as he was about his own podium drive.

" I was quick in the early stages of the race, and able to move up into third. I lost the handling a bit on my car late in the race, which allowed Colin to get closer to me, but I just concentrated on keeping my line and getting to the finish," said Rojas. "I just want to keep getting points for the championship, since anything can happen during the season and I am going to keep trying to get my first win here in Barber Dodge."

The forty-minute race got off to a clean start as the field filed into the fast turn one two complex, with Dan Di Leo taking evasive action into the grass after getting crowded out, but the young Canadian quickly rejoined the field. Pole sitter Maia took the outside line as the field headed into turn one, but found Martinez right along side him as he went into the corner, forcing him to back out of the throttle an let Martinez by. The rest of the field filed through cleanly on the narrowing first section of the track. Martinez took the lead and quickly built up a gap back to Maia. On the second lap, Rojas passed Bessette, and Colin Fleming followed suit on the very next corner after Bessette appeared to lose momentum. Chris Green had a quick off-track spin, but rejoined the field without any damage to his car. Nelson Phillippe passed Pelayo under braking for turn ten.

Di Leo had rejoined the field in seventh, and soon found himself fighting of Fillippe for the spot until Fillippe made a pass under braking into turn turn ten. Burt Frisselle suffered a quick spin after getting caught out when a car dropped two wheels off at the corner, leaving a layer of dirt on the surface and causing the Barber-Champ Car Scholarship driver to lose traction.

By the fourth lap, Martinez had built up a four-second lead over Maia, who worked on building his own gap up over Rojas, who trailed in third with Fleming close behind the two in fourth. Behind the Maia-Rojas-Fleming train, Phillipe and Pelayo battled over fifth and sixth, with Pelayo getting the edge on Phillip, only to have the position be swapped back and forth yet again a lap later

Dan Di Leo moved up a notch when he was able to move by Pelayo on the tenth lap. At this point in the race, Maia was well ahead of Rojas, and was working on bringing Martinez closer into his view, taking nearly a second off his lead in just two laps. Fleming had reeled in Rojas, and was judiciously picking a place to pass the Telmex driver, but was unable to find the spot.

"He was making it difficult to get by, but it was clean," said Fleming. "I was just thinking of the championship since I didn't get any points in St. Petersburg, so I am happy with this finish," said Fleming.

While behind this battle, Pelayo and Poirier traded spots until Poirier got by to take seventh. Soon after, German Quiroga got by Pelayo into turn one. In the closing stages of the race, Robbie Montinola spun after his car dropped some fluids, and the yellow came out, but not before a second incident occurred at turn ten when Chris Green tried to make it three wide when Victor Gonzalaz was attempting a pass on Al Unser. The three cars tangled, leaving Gonzalez out of the race with significant damage to his rear suspension, and Unser unable to continue, but Green was able to make it to the finish. The yellow came out to recover the cars with just over five minutes remaining but the clean up was not completed in time to have a green flag restart.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. 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.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series will race next on the weekend of May 31-June 1 at the Milwaukee Mile.

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About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers German Quiroga , Memo Rojas , Leonardo Maia , Chris Baker , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , David Martinez , Chris Green , Luis Pelayo , Nelson Philippe , Al Unser , Robbie Montinola