BARBER DODGE PRO SERIES RETURNS TO THE OVAL NAZARETH, Pa. (May 20) - The Barber Dodge Pro Series kicked off the First Union 200 race weekend at Nazareth Speedway with a day-long test session Thursday. Townsend Bell of Newport Beach, Calif.
BARBER DODGE PRO SERIES RETURNS TO THE OVAL
NAZARETH, Pa. (May 20) - The Barber Dodge Pro Series kicked off the First Union 200 race weekend at Nazareth Speedway with a day-long test session Thursday.
Townsend Bell of Newport Beach, Calif. topped the practice charts with a lap of 27.401 at 131.382 mph on the challenging one-mile oval.
"There's quite a bit of downhill. This is pretty unique as far as ovals go," Bell said. "Testing at Phoenix (in April) was the first time I had been on an oval. Phoenix doesn't have quite the elevation change so this makes it interesting."
Nazareth is the first Barber Dodge Pro Series oval race since 1996, when Frederik Larsson of Sweden led all 60 laps (also at Nazareth) en route to the series championship. The weekend also marks the oval race debut of the Barber Dodge Reynard 98E chassis, which was introduced for the 1998 season. Bettering the series track qualifying record should not be a problem for the new car, as a total of 18 drivers were under Larsson's existing mark of 27.967 in the afternoon session.
Defending series champion Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. recorded the second-quickest time with a 27.430 at 131.243 mph. Sepp Koster of Heemskerk, Netherlands was third (27.438/131.205 mph), followed by John McCaig of Victoria, B.C. (27.467/131.066 mph) and Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. (27.508/130.871 mph). McCaig and Snyder are among the few Barber Dodge drivers with oval experience. A three-day test session at Phoenix International Raceway in April served as an introduction to circle track racing for the majority of the 25-car field.
Nazareth is Round 2 of the 12-race, $1.1 million 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship. Rocky Moran Jr. of Coto de Caza, Calif. captured the season opener at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Moran claimed his first career pole at Sebring, then fended off a challenge from Simmons and Nilton Rossoni of Curitiba, Brazil to take the checker. Moran notched the sixth-fastest time in Thursday's test, with a top lap of 27.518/130.823 mph.
Bell attributed his consistent efforts to some homework he did during the CART FedEx Championship Series race at the track earlier in the month, which was won by 1994 Barber Pro Series graduate Juan Montoya. "I got to watch CART qualifying down in Turn 3," Bell said. "There were a few different lines that some of the guys took; it was pretty useful to come here and view the corners before we came here to drive."
The 60-lap Barber Dodge race is one of the attractions at the First Union 200, as the slate also includes the NASCAR Busch Grand National series and the NASCAR Featherlite Modified series. Admission to the track Saturday, which includes qualifying for both NASCAR divisions and the Barber Dodge Pro Series final qualifying and race at 4 p.m., is just $5.
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