(Kershaw, South Carolina) August 25, 2002 - Grant Maiman converted one pole position and two wins at Carolina Motorsports Park, including his fourth consecutive victory, into the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by ...
(Kershaw, South Carolina) August 25, 2002 - Grant Maiman converted one pole position and two wins at Carolina Motorsports Park, including his fourth consecutive victory, into the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. By sweeping both rounds for the second consecutive series, the New London, Wisconsin native clinched the driver's title with one race remaining in the 13-round championship. Maiman, in his second year in the series, earns a scholarship to contest the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series.
ROUND 11 - Costly post-race penalties decided the outcome in Round 11 and denied Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner Colin Fleming his first National Championship win and Scott Speed a second place result. Although the drivers finished 1-2, both were assessed 15 second penalties, dropping them out of contention and promoting third place finisher Grant Maiman to his fifth victory of the season. [Fleming's penalty occured during a race restart on lap 3, when he accelerated too soon then overslowed his car to compensate, a move race stewards interpreted as a brake check. Speed, who went off course in turn-11, was penalized for making no attempt to rejoin the field at the point he left the track. He missed 3 corners of the circuit and subsequently re-entered before turn-14. His infraction notwithstanding, Speed had run a fantastic race, advancing from a P12 start to challenge for the lead.
Maiman garners 21 points on the day for having claimed pole position earlier on the 2.3 mile road course. Robbie Montinola and National Championship Runoff winner Scott Poirier also advanced two positions in the finish order, and joined Maiman on the podium in second and third place. Al Unser and Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner Charlie Kimball round out the top-5.
An early crash that involved Luis Pelayo set off a chain of events that ultimately changed the complexion of the race. Pelayo hit the wall in turn-4 and rebounded onto the track, where he was collected by Craig Baltzer. A bouncing tire from Pelayo's car caught Jason Richardson in the wrong place at the wrong time. All three racers were finished for the day. The pace car was called and set up a restart two laps later. While Fleming and Speed led the second half of the race, Maiman had his hands full with Poirier, right behind him, in a match-up with championship implications.
The track, which is an interesting combination of fast sweeping corners and tight technical ones, saw many excel, most notably was Justin Blower, who started 17th but picked up nine positions to land in the top-10 and collect valuable points. Kimball deserves mention for his outstanding drive. The young Californian started 11th and his top-5 result is his best of the National Championship season. Newcomers to National Championship, Ben Freudenberg and John Angelone, proved they have the mettle to run with the field, both recording top-10 results.
For Maiman, who entered the Carolina rounds with a five point lead over Poirier, a third place finish in Round 11 would have been a strong result with two rounds remaining.
"I ran to the corner with Colin, trying to stay under his gearbox. All the way through turn-14, Colin went ahead and opened up a nice gap. Then I got hit by Robbie which brought my exhaust down, but the car held together nicely and I was able to stay in third," said Maiman. He continued, "I would have been happy with a third place finish. It wasn't worth taking a risk [to challenge for the lead]. Because of my bent exhaust, I didn't have anything on the top end to challenge."
Montinola's second place result is his best of the season. The Californian points to his ability to pick up the new circuit quickly.
"I like the track configuration. It's a circuit that suits my style of driving. I feel really comfortable here. I enjoy the fast, sweeping corners, a lot of hard braking zones."
Poirier, who stays close to Maiman by virtue of his third place finish, is pleased to advance two positions post-race.
"I'm excited to land on the podium. It just so happened that there were penalties so anytime you can advance with someone else's mistake its a good deal. So I'm happy to gain some more points and collect another podium in the championship."