DE PHILLIPPI DOUBLES UP IN ROAD AMERICA SKIP BARBER BATTLE
Californian sets series record with sixth and seventh wins of the season
ELKHART LAKE, WI (August 24, 2009) -- Up-and-coming open wheel superstar Connor De Phillippi put on an impressive display this past weekend at Road America when the Skip Barber National Series Presented by Mazda raced the full 4.0-mile road circuit, stepping to the forefront with a pair of victories that have further stretched his lead in the overall standings. This weekend brought De Phillippi's season win total to seven, setting a new record for the Skip Barber National Series.
"I can't complain at all," said De Phillippi after the weekend's racing. "I got a pole and two wins. It was a successful weekend for sure. I couldn't have asked for anything better!"
The 16-year-old started the weekend strongly, driving to pole position during the first round of qualifying on Saturday, coming in as the chart-topper by 0.134 seconds over Dennis Trebing. The opening race of the weekend got underway with De Phillippi leading a large pack of cars through the opening turns of the historic race course. After an early caution, he led the field past the start-finish line for the restart as overly-aggressive racing for second allowed him to break free and drive away from the field.
"Kyle (Marcelli) made a move that allowed me to get a gap and I was able to drive away," De Phillippi offered. "When I saw they were three-wide in turn one, I knew that this would be my chance. I put together some good laps and got a good gap opened up."
A late-race caution bunched the field, eliminating his lead, but Connor would not be challenged as he scored the win, tying Grant Maiman for the all-time Skip Barber record.
Sunday's action made things tougher on the young driver, but he was still able to keep his cool. Qualifying third in the timed run to set the grid for the back-end of the doubleheader, he was 0.285 seconds off the pole speed of his primary adversary for the title, Court Vernon. The race on Sunday was messy with only five of the 13 starters seeing the checkered flag.
"Sunday was by far the craziest race I've ever been in," De Phillippi said. "I just had to keep my head down and stay out of trouble."
Early pack racing yielded a big wreck in Canada Corner, which took out three cars. Connor was able to stay clean through the mayhem and continue his weekend. With time running out, De Phillippi was swapping positions with Vernon, Felix Serralles, and Sage Karam when late-race contact took out another group of cars, leaving Vernon and De Phillippi to fight it out for the win. De Phillippi would position himself well, pulling from behind the leader to draft by at the strip by a scant .004 seconds.
"I knew we were getting close to the time limit, so approaching the last turn I tucked in behind him (Vernon) and got a run over the hill and got past him," said De Phillippi. "It was a great way to cap the weekend and puts me in a strong position heading into the stretch run. I'm really looking forward to Road Atlanta.
With four races remaining, De Phillippi has a 43-point lead. Even with a big lead, he is still focusing on winning races. "Podiums are good, but I'd like to keep the winning streak going," he added. The next stop for the National Series is Road Atlanta on September 23-26, where the drivers will race in support of the American LeMans Series at the famed Petit Le Mans weekend. This will be De Phillippi's first time at the legendary road course.