NA-F2000: Dana LaLiberte Motorsports Mid-Ohio race report

PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: John Peckham FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 7, 1997 e-mail address: johnp@umich.edu LaLiberte ...

PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: John Peckham FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 7, 1997 e-mail address: johnp@umich.edu

LaLiberte Finishes Nineteenth In Mid-Ohio US Formula Ford 2000 Race

LEXINGTON, OH -- Dana LaLiberte finished 19th in Saturday's VGX Brake Pads United States Formula Ford 2000 National Championship, Presented by "Money Talks" at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. LaLiberte, driving his LaLiberte's Auto Center Van Diemen Ford, improved 18 positions from his 37th starting spot to earn his first top twenty finish in the professional series.

"That was one of my best races ever!" declared LaLiberte after the 20 lap race. "I have never had a race car work as well as today. I am a little disappointed that it took so long to get it up to speed, and I wonder what would have happened if we would have qualified better, but I will take 19th."

LaLiberte started 37th after handling problems slowed his first round qualifying efforts. Set-up changes improved the car for the second round of qualifying, but numerous yellow flags during the session kept LaLiberte from improving on his Friday time. LaLiberte was 25th fastest in the final qualifying session.

"It is pretty depressing that we had to start as far back as we did, because I knew that we were better than our time showed. Everyone was slower in final qualifying...the track was slower. I had a spin on my only fast lap in the session, but we were still 25th fastest for the session. I didn't want to start so badly, but I had confidence in the car...it had improved drastically. I had worked with the Yokohama engineers, and knew that the changes we made were going to make the car much better for the race."

Starting the race, LaLiberte immediately began his job of moving to the front of the pack. Passing at least a car every lap, LaLiberte was quickly in the top 25, but was facing a large gap between his car and the next group of cars when the yellow flag waived for a spin on lap nine.

"I was very lucky to get the yellow...I don't know if I would have been able to finish in the top twenty if it hadn't been waved. There was a lot of time to make up between myself an the next car."

A second yellow flag on laps 17-19 set up a last lap scramble for position, in which LaLiberte was able to take advantage of the situation.

"I passed my final car going into the second turn on the last lap. I was home free from there on. I couldn't catch the car in front of me, so I concentrated on pulling out a gap so that I could finish with a nice cushion between myself and the next car."

LaLiberte finished with one of the most impressive drives of the day, passing 18 cars in the 12 green flag laps.

The race was won by Brazilian Zak Morioka, who only had to pass one car all day. Starting second, Morioka passed Team Kool Green driver Matt Sielsky on the last lap re-start to win his second race of the year, and take a lead in the championship.

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Dana LaLiberte                                                 jmfangio@umich.edu
Dana LaLiberte Motorsports           http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jmfangio
Ann Arbor, Michigan                                       Kalamazoo, Michigan
Car #98                                         US FF2000 National Championship

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Series Other open wheel