Jamie Menninga secured his first Barber Dodge Pro Series career pole in the Racing For Kids Grand Prix Featuring the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Moreover, he did it with authority.
With just over two minutes remaining in the 30-minute final qualifying session, Menninga moved ahead of provisional polesitter and championship leader Nilton Rossoni to takeover the prime grid position. One lap later, Matt Plumb snatched the pole. Just as the timing screen came into focus, Menninga would lower the mark again. The final exclamation point came as the No.7 Event Marketing Enterprises, Inc. Dodge Reynard of Menninga streaked beneath the waving checkered flag to reset his fast time once again. Thus he would end on the pole after three masterful laps with a fastest time of 1:19.832 sec. for an average speed of 100.246 mph around the 2.223-mile Homestead infield road course. Plumb's effort was good enough for second with a 1:20.009 sec. lap making him the only other driver to crack the 100 mph threshold. Third quick was Brazilian Alexandre Sperafico, his best qualifying performance to date.
"It's beyond words. Awesome," was how Menninga described his emotions. "I was timing the drafts just right. I owe Davy Cook, and I was working with Jon (Fogarty), trying to help him, and he helped me. That was the key to going fast."
Menninga had on off course excursion early on caused when both he and Fogarty attempted to go a little too deep into one of Homestead's tight infield corners. Menninga escaped without penalty; however, Fogarty suffered mightily as a long stop was required to clean out his car of the rocks and gravel he had picked up. Fogarty would make a last gasp dash in a car considerably laden with fuel compared to the others to improve his position one spot to seventh.
Plumb came on strong late in the session to improve 1.2 seconds over his provisional effort in the No. 17 CAM 2 Dodge Reynard. That moved Plumb from the eleventh spot on the grid to the outside of the front row.
"It didn't even start going (my way) until about halfway through the session. I was working up to the appropriate braking points and then beyond. Then it was all about timing. We were trying to time the cloud cover hoping that it would give us some sort of advantage and it worked. Nick (Longhi, race engineer) came on the radio and said, 'You have the pole!' then literally the next click was, 'No, sorry,'" recounted Plumb
Alexandre Sperafico pulled off a last dash flier to vault into the third spot on the grid, marking his best career start in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Sperafico had been sixth on the grid, but thanks to some crafty drafting was able to improve sixth-tenths of a second over his provisional time.
"I feel good. I've worked hard all through the year, and finally I've come up into the top 3," said Brazilian driving the No. 20 Iveco Fiat Dodge Reynard. "At the end of the session I was trying to get into the draft because my car in the free air was not fast enough. I got a lot of help from my cousin (Rafael Sperafico) in the last laps. He gave me a good draft at the end of the front straight and I had a good lap in the infield. It was great."
Sperafico's cousin Rafael, a runner up earlier in the year in the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship is making his Pro Series debut and performing quite admirably. On the pace throughout the weekend, the younger Sperafico has taken well to the Michelin shod Dodge Reynard, and he will start his first professional race from sixth on the grid.
Provisional polesitter Rossoni attempted to defend his fast time in a racecar with a new motor. At the end of the first session, an oil pressure drop forced the change for the second session and the title front runner was never a factor as he had little time to adjust to the new powerplant. He will start the race from the outside of row two, though his rival Fogarty starts three positions in arrears. A top seven finish will assure the Brazilian of the crown.
The final round of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series will see the green flag fly at 11:00 a.m. EDT, Sunday Oct. 8 at the Racing For Kids Grand Prix.
Qualifying Results Racing For Kids Grand Prix Featuring the Barber Dodge Pro Series Round 12 of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Fla Oct 7, 2000
Pos Car Driver/Hometown Time 1 7 Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 01:19.832 2 17 Matt Plumb/Unionville, Penn. 01:20.009 3 20 Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil 01:20.167 4 36 Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 01:20.342 5 5 Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 01:20.391 6 27 Rafael Sperafico/Brazil 01:20.427 7 52 Jon Fogarty/Portolo Valley, Calif. 01:20.477 8 9 Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 01:20.497 9 95 Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 01:20.517 10 31 Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla. 01:20.638 11 99 Davy Cook/Tallahasse, Fla. 01:20.761 12 11 Thed Björk/Vretstorp, Sweden 01:20.786 13 19 Sara Senske/Kennewick, Washington 01:21.046 14 23 Marc Breuers/Gladwyne, Penn. 01:21.105 15 53 Tom Fogarty/Soledad, Calif. 01:21.467 16 21 Jon Vannini/Hillsborough, California 01:21.562 17 4 Brent Sherman/ North Barrington, Ill. 01:21.690 18 25 Kip Gulseth/Manitowoc, Wisc. 01:21.825 19 83 Shareef Malnik, Miami Beach, Fla. 01:22.926
Track Length 2.223-miles Qualifying Record: Jamie Menninga 1:19.832 (100.246 mph) NEW RECORD