Allmendinger goes flag to flag in Montreal. (Montreal, Quebec) August 25- A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister, California finished the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series season the same way he started it by taking a commanding win over Memo Rojas and...
Allmendinger goes flag to flag in Montreal.
(Montreal, Quebec) August 25- A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister, California finished the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series season the same way he started it by taking a commanding win over Memo Rojas and Rafael Sperafico to notch his sixth win of the season at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve in Montreal. Leo Maia followed up last weeks win at Elkhart Lake with an aggressive run to fourth place after starting from ninth as Dan Di Leo finished fifth in the Elite Die Casting Company machine. Piero Rodarte had his best finish of the season to go with his best qualifying effort of the season, converting his seventh place start into a sixth place finish. Javier Gonzalez of Mexico City, Mexico finished seventh, also his best finish of the season while Marc Breuers finished ninth. Michael Vukelich had a smart run to ninth in only his second-ever Barber Dodge Pro Series race. Tom Fogarty came home in tenth place, his third top ten finish of the season.
Allmendinger went three for three in Canada this season, winning in Toronto, Vancouver, and again today in Montreal. The win gives Allmendinger six wins for the season, matching Kenny Brack's record set in 1993 when the young Swede stormed to the title in Barber competition.
"It can't get any better than this," said a smiling Allmendinger. "My race was pretty straight forward, I was able to keep the lead on the start and build up a gap over Rafael. I made a mistake on the sixth lap and kind of let him back into it, but I then just put my head down and tried to build the gap up again. On the restarts, I knew that Rafael was going to be good on cold tires like he has been all season and so I had to get a good run through the chicane to get the jump and I was able to do that and keep the lead. This has been a fantastic season for me. I started the year with the goal of winning the rookie of the year and try and get into the championship fight but after I won the first two races, I just tried to keep up the momentum and go for the championship. I am not sure what I am doing next season, but I am already getting excited about racing again."
Memo Rojas had a strong run to finish second, matching his career best in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
"It was a close battle up front, with the top four running all together," said Rojas. "On the first restart there was a car behind me trying to make a pass, and then someone braked early, so I had to lock up the brakes but I still ended up hitting them. When we went back to green, I knew there was one lap to go, and I had been fast through the last chicane and I got a good run out of there and get inside Rafael to take second place."
2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series Rookie of the Year Rafael Sperafico finished second, his fifth top three finish of the season, gaining him enough points to secure second place in the season championship.
"AJ was perfect during the whole race so I have to congratulate him on a good race and a perfect season," said Sperafico. "I hope to be champion next year. I knew where Marc was during the whole race since I wanted to be sure to secure second in the championship."
The 40-minute race provided plenty of action from start to finish. Allmendinger brought the field to the green from the pole and kept the lead through the first corner with Dan Di Leo slotting in behind him and Rafael Sperafico keeping third. Allmendinger quickly established a 1.5 second lead over Di Leo in the very first lap. Sperafico began to close in on Di Leo for second place and started putting pressure on the young Canadian. By the second lap, Allmendinger had stretched his lead to 2.1 seconds and was leaving the rest of the field in his mirrors. On the fourth lap, Sperafico got a good run out of the final corner and drafted Di Leo into the turn one and took the inside line as he out braked Di Leo to secure the second position. Sperafico, who won the Laguna Seca round of competition, then set off to try and cut the gap to Allmendinger. Meanwhile, Di Leo soon found himself under pressure from Marc Breuers who in turn was seeing a lot of Rojas in his mirrors. When Breuers defended his line against an attacking Rojas he turned in across the nose of a charging Josh Beaulieu, causing damage to his front wing.
By lap five, Sperafico had built a gap behind him to Di Leo and had reduced the lead of Allmendinger to just .8 seconds when Allmendinger made a mistake in braking for the hairpin. Beaulieu and Maia began to battle over the sixth spot, with each taking turns in the position before Piero Rodarte made a startling move on both drivers as they battled into the hairpin, taking the inside line to pass both cars at the exit. Soon after, Beaulieu was forced to pull off course after wheel to wheel contact with Maia bent his suspension beyond repair, making his car undrivable.
Further back in the field the battles were frantic as Davy Cook, Danica Patrick and Christian Szymczak fought over the tenth spot, with Josh Rehm also looking for a way by. The foursome exchanged spots for several laps until lap 9 when Szymczak appeared to get sideways at the exit of turn seven and made contact with the wall, collecting Patrick who had nowhere to go. Aurelio Lopez was close behind and unable to avoid the back of Patrick's car, making hard contact and eliminating her from the race. Szymczak's race was also over but Lopez was able to get restarted and back into the race.
The field was collected by the Dodge Viper pace car, eliminating Allmendinger's lead and grouping the field for the restart. Allmendinger got another good start but Marc Breuers was not so fortunate, spinning out of turn 13 as he went to throttle for the green. Breuers was able to make a perfect 360 and got the car pointed straight again but had fallen back in the field from his fifth position. Breuers was able to charge back through the field to finish in ninth despite only having a few laps of green flag racing to do so.
The green flag was quickly replaced by a yellow again as Memo Rojas locked the brakes heading into the hairpin and hitting Dan Di Leo, knocking his car sideways. As the field went to the outside of the corner to avoid Di Leo, he quickly got pointed to the exit of the corner and began to move out but made contact with German Quiroga at the exit of the corner, knocking Quiroga's car toward the wall. The impact with the wall rolled Quirga's car onto the roll hoop and Davy Cook found himself with nowhere to go as Quiroga's car came to a rest upside down directly in his path. Quiroga quickly scrambled out of the car unscathed as Cook was able to get back out and continue on his way. The cleanup effort left but one lap to go in the race and starter Doug Hill gave the field the white and green flags simultaneously, giving Sperafico one last shot at Allmendinger for the lead. Heading into turn one, Sperafico found him self being passed by Rojas as Rojas had a good run out of the final corner and was able to outbrake Sperafico into turn one. Maia pressured Sperafico in the final corners, but was unable to find a way by.
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.