Fogarty looking for edge in Barber Dodge Pro Series at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. - Most of the drivers in the Barber Dodge Pro Series are looking forward to the first trip of the season to Laguna Seca Raceway this weekend for Round 9 of the $1.1 million, 12-race Barber Dodge Pro Series as a part of the CART Grand Prix of Monterey Sunday.
But one driver in particular is also looking forward to a home-track advantage. Jon Fogarty of nearby Portola Valley knows all about the twists and turns of the 2.24 mile, 11 turn Laguna Seca layout. He knows about the passing zones and the fastest line through the Andretti hairpin. And he wants to use any advantage while he has it. "Home track advantage _ there's always some truth to that. Not only the track, but the surroundings. I don't have to worry about any time changes, like some of the European guys," Fogarty said. "It's really good (having) a track I'm familiar with. I ran the (Barber Dodge) two-liter series there and have the track record. It's a comfortable place, especially with a lot of friends there." Fogarty is not the only driver looking to make his mark at Laguna. Series points leader Todd Snyder, second-place Thomas Schie and third-place Jeff Simmons are all looking for a podium finish as the series enters the busy homestretch. Schie won the Barber Dodge race in 1996 at the track and still holds the series qualifying (1:26.599/93.040 mph) and race (1:26.863/92.779 mph) lap records. "Some of the other drivers had success here. People in this series are so good, they pick it up quickly," Fogarty commented. "We have a pretty limited practice schedule (this weekend), which is good for me. If the final qualifying (Saturday, 5 p.m.) is slower than the first (Friday, 4:45 p.m.), that's better for me. At our final race (back to Laguna October 25), I'll expect that everyone will have it down. I think right now there are couple of corners, like turn six, where I can do some things." Fogarty is looking for a podium finish to bolster his own standing in the series title chase. The winner of Round 7 at Mid-Ohio on August 9 currently sits in eighth place with 43 points, with Snyder (99), Schie (92), Simmons (89), Giovanni Anapoli (70) and Will Langhorne (69) comprising the top five. Three other California drivers will be looking to make a strong debut at Laguna this weekend. Mike Miller of Sonoma, David Francis Jr. of Cypress and Tom Fogarty of San Francisco are all strapping into the carbon-fiber Reynard Dodges for the first time this season. Miller is a Skip Barber Racing School instructor at the track and the leader in the Star Mazda series. Francis is one of the top drivers in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Western Race Series.
Tom Fogarty is Jon's older brother, so something more than the points and prize money will be on the starting line at Laguna. Family bragging rights are also at stake. "I know he's been trying to get in the car. That'll be cool," Jon enthused. "We've only raced each other in go-karts. We've raced the same series but at different times, but never in a proper race car on a proper race track." Jon Fogarty considered his next thought carefully, then let it fly. "He should do pretty well, but I hope he's not a factor." Let the race begin.