SBRS: Gratten: Formula Dodge National Championship, Round 2

(GRATTAN, Mich.) May 21, 2000 -Bryan Sellers made the most of his first Formula Dodge National Championship weekend, scoring all but one of the points available to him. With two wins and one pole, Sellers was nearly perfect. While round 1 was...

(GRATTAN, Mich.) May 21, 2000 -Bryan Sellers made the most of his first Formula Dodge National Championship weekend, scoring all but one of the points available to him. With two wins and one pole, Sellers was nearly perfect. While round 1 was close, round two was anything but. Craig Duerson was also a double victor on the weekend. Race 2 was more measured event for Duerson who inherited the lead not once, but twice, the second time for good on the last lap.

The Formula Dodge National Championship field was again divided into two groups of 13 and 14 respectively for round 2 at Grattan Raceway in Grattan, Mich. Round 1 took place at Grattan on Saturday.

Group 1

It seemed as if the start was as close as any of the competitors would get to Sellers. The battle for second through fourth never failed to entertain as nothing was decided until final lap. Jon Morley ended up with the second podium spot followed by Anthony Simone, who backed up his second-place finish in round 1. Landon Yee had been the other protagonist in the fight for second until the hard-fought battle ended with Morley coming out of turn 1. Both cars got out onto the marbles; Yee spun around, and out of contention. Simone who had been nursing an ailing third gear all through out the three-car battle for third was rewarded by Yee's misfortune to pick up the final podium spot.

"I think Anthony (Simone) popped out of third gear at the start, which probably stacked

everybody up a bit," said Sellers of the reason for his large lead. "I was fortunate to get a jump on everybody and build a gap while they were sorting themselves out."

Jon Morley moved up two places over his round 1 finish with his second place. It wasn't easy as Morley, Yee and Simone were practically glued together for all 20 laps. In the end the hard wheel to wheel racing went his way.

"It was a pretty exciting one," Morley recounted. "There was a lot of swapping places. I was thinking that we might line up a little bit and try to catch Sellers, but our racing genes got to us."

"The last lap was exciting," Morley continued. "Coming down the front straight, I didn't leave much room on the inside, but Landon chose to go that way anyway. I took him deep, braking late; he passed, I re-passed, then we went into turn two. I got big sideways, he got big sideways and we were out on the marbles and unfortunately he spun. It was a tough break, because we had been having a good battle up until then."

Simone was the benefactor of all that activity.

"I lost third gear about halfway through the race so I was just trying to keep it out there and score some points," said Simone. "When I saw Landon off the on the side of the road, I thought 'tough break for him, good break for me.'"

Group 2

Duerson was running a race of his own. In attempt to conserve his Michelin Pilot CS racing slicks, Duerson decided early to run his own race and let the cards fall where they may. In the end they all fell his way. He first took the lead on passing pole-sitter Damian Della-Santina, when Della-Santina went off the road briefly in turn 4. When Szymczak got passed, Duerson didn't fight it hoping that the two would work together to pull away from the skirmishes behind. He would battle for the win when the time was right. Fortunately for him that time never came as Szymczak decided the issue all on his own.

"It was the same as before. Everybody was fast and it came down to making the fewest mistakes," Duerson elucidated. "I was trying to conserve my tires as I have a tendency to be a bit hard on them. If the they catch me, I'll deal with it then."

Duerson may have one the race but it was Ryan Howe and Christian Szymczak who were on the move. Howe steadily moved up into second place from his seventh starting position, making up two places on the opening lap alone. Thereafter it was a combination of smooth, consistent driving mixed with a bit of luck. He took the white flag in second place and there he would stay for the last two tours.

"I just picked them off one by one," said Howe of his quiet but prolific race. "It gives me a boost from yesterday (finished 13th), I just have to remain consistent and score podiums for the rest of the season."

Szymczak held the lead for four of the 20 laps, making a series of decisive passes into turn 1. Two wheels on the grass toward the end of the penultimate lap proved to be his down fall, as he spun out of the lead. Quickly re-firing the engine, he rejoined the fray in third place. Of further vindication for Szymczak was the fastest lap of the race, which he set at 1:24.126 sec on the sinuous 1.9-mile track.

"It was a little bit disappointing (to spin on the penultimate lap) but the important thing I felt like I drove well and had a good run," said Szymczak.

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Results: Round 2 Formula Dodge National Championship, Grattan Raceway, Grattan, Mich.

Group 1

1/Bryan Sellers/Centerville, Ohio 2/Jon Morley/Columbus, Ohio 3/Anthony Simone/Aurora, Ontario 4/Brian Angen/Campbell, Ca. 5/Davy Cook/Tallahassee, Fla. 6/Brian Cole/Dumfries, Va. 7/Chris Wilcox/Naucalpan de Jua, Mexico 8/Landon Yee/San Rafael, Ca. 9/Daniel Di Leo/Markham, Ontario 10/Michael Rossi/Murrieta, Ca 11/Jim McCabe/Luzerne, Pa. 12/Ryan Jones/Maple Ridge, British Colombia 13/Chris Baker/Austin, Tex.

Group 2

1/Craig Duerson/St. Petersburg, Fla. 2/Ryan Howe/Temecula, Ca. 3/Christian Szymczak/Oakland, Ca. 4/Caio Travaglini/Miami, Fla. 5/Damian Della-Santina/Los Angeles, Ca. 6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Ca. 7/Scott Presti/Naples, Fla. 8/Tophie Stewart/Carmichael, Ca. 9/Brian Rivera/Miami Lakes, Fla. 10/Juan Manuel Polar/Sannisdro, Peru 11/Jonathan Strohm/Wildwood, Mo. 12/Kevin Christensen/Castaic, Ca. 13/J.J. Fischer/Tyler, Tex. 14/Dan Schmalshof/Adair, Ill

Top 15 Points After Rounds 1 & 2

1/Sellers/41 2/Duerson/40 3/Simone/31 4/Morley/28 5/Szymczak/25 6/Stewart/24 6/Travaglini/24 8/Yee/22 8/Rivera/22 8/Howe/22 11/Cook/21 11/Angen/21 11/Della-Santina/21 14/Maia/20 15/Di Leo/18

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers J.J. Fischer , Christian Szymczak , Davy Cook , Leonardo Maia , Chris Baker , Craig Duerson , Bryan Sellers , Chris Wilcox , Juan Manuel Polar , Anthony Simone , Michael Rossi , Jon Morley