HUNTER-REAY SMOKES NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD LAKEVILLE, Conn. (Oct. 16) - The next time Ryan Hunter-Reay picks up the phone, he should not be surprised if David Copperfield is on the other end looking for magic tis. Especially with the speed he showed in disappearing from the rest of the field in the Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER at Lime Rock Park Saturday morning.
Hunter-Reay wrestled the pole position away from provisional qualifying Levi Simoes in the final qualifying session. The 18-year-old native of Boca Raton, Florida anticipated the start perfectly, then proceeded to jet away from the dicing behind him to post a 8.452 second victory on the 1.53-mile, seven-turn road course.
"I just kept my head down and didn't look back," said Hunter-Reay. "I took a look in the mirrors on the straightaways to see the distance from first to second, but that was it. Then they started fighting back there and that's when I was able to get it really opened up."
The real battle was for second place, where Bryan Sellers, Peter Boss and Simoes spent most of the 30-minute race wrestling for the position to set up a three-wide dash across the finish line. Centerville, Ohio native Sellers took second by a nose over Boss in what would have definitely been a photo finish in a horse race.
"Actually, I was looking in the mirrors and I didn't see him at all. I had no idea where he was at," Sellers said. "He must have been in my blind spot because I didn't know he was right there next to me."
Boss edged Simoes of Itatiba, Brazil by about a third of a car length for the final podium slot. The Narragansett, R.I native started second and gave chase to Hunter-Reay in the early going before the drafting pair of Sellers and Simoes ran him down 10 minutes into the race.
"That was fun. I saw Levi was going to get held up by lap traffic," Boss said. "He was trying to deal with Sellers and I just shot by on the inside. He tried to come back over, but I already had him by then."
Brian Rivera of Miami Lakes, Florida won another heated battle with Craig Duerson of St. Petersburg, Florida for fifth. Chris Willcox of Basking Ridge, N.J moved up from his 11th starting position to finish seventh and claim the Masters Division National Championship.
Hunter-Reay was in control from the outset, with fourth-place starter Barry Gommer of Hunlock Creek, Penn. briefly giving chase. But Gommer was black flagged for jumping the start, which allowed Hunter-Reay more daylight in front. The only thing that could have made a dent in the lead would have been a restart, but a yellow flag was not in the plans for the 30-lap race.
"I saw them fighting back there quite a bit, but they had a strong race and everybody was clean," Hunter-Reay said. "There were no yellow flags, which is very surprising, so kudos to all the drivers."
Gommer fought his way back through the 24-car field to finish a still-impressive eighth. Don Drislane of Canaan won the Westside Parking Most Progressive Driver $500 Award for his ninth-place finish. Jon Morley of Columbus, Ohio completed the Top 10.
Hunter-Reay, who was the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Eastern Series champion and Southern Series co-champion, said the $15,000 Career Enhancement Award, coupled with the $500 Westside Parking Pole Award, would come in handy over the winter in testing to move up to the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
"We really needed it for Pro testing and the whole bit," Hunter-Reay said.
The opinion of all the drivers was unanimous in support of the first National Championship event for the identically prepared, 2.0-liter Dodge Neon-powered open wheel cars.
"It was all fun. It was clean, good racing and I enjoyed it," Boss said. "It was a good time."
Sellers, also looking to move up to the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2000, agreed.
"It was amazing. All the guys gave a lot of racing room," Sellers said. "It was a lot of fun, with a lot of good competition."
LAKEVILLE, Conn. - Formula Dodge National Championship results from the NASCAR 200 Presented by Burnham Boilers on the 1.53-mile, seven-turn Lime Rock road course for Saturday's 30-minute race. Drivers are classified by finishing position, starting position, name/hometown or country, laps, reason out (if any), and prize money. All cars are identical Dodge 2.0-liter, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin tires.<
1 (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla., 92.461 mph, 30 laps, $15000 2 (6) Bryan Sellars/Centerville, Ohio, 30, $10000 3 (2) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I., 30, $5000 4 (3) Levi Simoes/Itatiba, Brazil , 30 5 (5) Brian Rivera/Miami Lakes, Fla., 30 6 (7) Craig Duerson/St.Petersburg, Fla., 30 7 (11) Chris Willcox/Basking Ridge, N.J., 30 8 (4) Barry Gommer/Hunlock Creek, Penn., 30 9 (15) Don Drislane/Canaan, Conn., 30 10 (9) Jon Morley/Columbus, Ohio, 30 11 (13) Todd Russo/Ringoes, N.J., 30 12 (12) Marc Breuers/Gladwine, Pa., 30 13 (8) Paul Dana/Indianapolis, Ind., 30 14 (16) Chip Bryant/New Braunfels, Tx., 30 15 (14) Robert McMillan/Crowley, Tx., 30 16 (20) Ted Ballou/Covina, Calif., 30 17 (17) Andre D'Cruze/Kent, U.K., 30 18 (19) Caio Travaglini/Sao Paulo, Brazil, 30 19 (18) Chris Baker/Austin, Tx., 30 20 (21) Matty O'Rourke/Coconut Creek, Fla., 30 21 (23) Michael Morris/Dallas, Texas, 29 22 (24) Ricardo Navarro/Irvine, Calif., 29 23 (22) Mark Barrens/Louisville, Ken. 24 (10) Trent Miller/Bedminster, N.J.
Length of Race: 30 laps Time of Race: 30:00.698 Average Speed: 91.8 mph Margin of Victory: 8.452 seconds Lap Leaders: Hunter-Reay, 1-30 Westside Parking Fastest Race Lap: Simoes, 59.475 lap 17, $500 Westside Parking Fastest Qualifier: Hunter-Reay, 59.182/93.609 mph, $500 Westside Parking Most Progressive Driver: Don Drislane, from 15th to ninth, $500 Westside Parking Masters National Champion: Chris Willcox, $500