(NAZARETH, Pa) Apr. 10, 2000 â€“Dutchman Sepp Koster scored his first career Barber Dodge Pro Series victory in grand fashion winning the snow delayed Round 3 event at Nazareth Motor Speedway. Having led the time sheets for much of the weekend...
(NAZARETH, Pa) Apr. 10, 2000 –Dutchman Sepp Koster scored his first career Barber Dodge Pro Series victory in grand fashion winning the snow delayed Round 3 event at Nazareth Motor Speedway. Having led the time sheets for much of the weekend and persevering through two delays due to erratic weather, Koster started the race from the top spot on the grid and never looked back. Koster led all 60 laps around the .949-mile Nazareth oval, establishing a record race speed in the process at 117.353 mph.
The weekend saw virtually the entire spectrum of weather, from warm to cold, from sunny to thunderstorms, sleet, hail and the coupe de grace –snow. All of those contributed to the cancellation of qualifying Saturday afternoon, and the postponement of the race until Monday. The race finally got underway under sunny but blustery conditions keeping temperatures in the low-forties.
It mattered little to Koster as he crossed the finish line in his Blue Bay Curacao Golf Resort-Barber Dodge Reynard with a fist pumping the air. He led Barber Dodge Pro Series “Big Scholarship” winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Boca Raton, Fla. and Andy Lally of Northport, N.Y. at the finish.
“It’s fantastic, and been a long time coming,” Koster said. “I’ve had some near misses and I was really waiting for this chance. Louis, my crew chief and (mechanic) Bill Henderson put together a very good car for me.
“I made sure that I didn’t push too much, but just kept a pace that was comfortable for me. Every time Ryan (Hunter-Reay) came near, I would push a little bit more just to keep him at a distance,” Koster continued. “My coach Todd Snyder who is running in Indy Lights and I worked on a good set-up and I felt really comfortable in the car.”
Hunter-Reay who started the race a career best third in the race scores his first podium finish in three attempts, having improved one spot by taking advantage of slow traffic. As the field came through the tri-oval, Hunter-Reay made a decisive move for second placing slicing through the gap in traffic. He then set off in pursuit of Koster having closed the gap to less than a second, but that was a close as he would get.
“My Barber Dodge Reynard ran flawlessly all afternoon,” said the 18-year old Floridian. “To pass someone here is all about waiting to set –up lapped traffic. When lapped traffic worked my way, I was able to take advantage of it and gain a position. I saw a hole (in traffic) on the outside and I got a good run coming into the kink.”
It was Lally who more than anyone was able to capitalize on the traffic having pulled off what was likely the move of the race. On lap-49, third through sixth place were working through a barrage of lap traffic when then fourth-place Michael Valiante and fifth-place Roger Yasukawa went to the inside of turn four. Lally, reading the traffic perfectly, opted to go to the outside, leapfrogging the two. The next lap he caught Peter Boss for third, then stood his ground in the face of an attack from Valiante. Lally held on to finish third for the second consecutive race. “It was quite an incredible race,” commented Lally. “Around here you have to have quite a good game-plan. In the end when, I needed a good car, it came through and I was able to stick it around the outside.
“As long as I can continue to stay on the podium, I think I have a good chance this year for the championship. Realistically though, I want to go for the Rookie of the Year, because the Barber Dodge award will pay for another season so I can come back and have a shot a the title,” Lally added.
There were many exciting battles throughout the field particularly the third through sixth battle that often saw cars going three abreast. Point’s leaders Nilton Rossoni and Jon Fogarty had a fantastic duel for much of the race that ended when Rossoni caught a tire on the inside edge of the track coming through turn-1 which looped him into a benign spin. Unfortunately for him the battle ended there and in spite of rejoining the fray immediately, he lost several places. Fogarty came through to finish sixth which now puts him even on points with leader Rossoni.
Alexandre Sperafico made up the most spots from his starting position as he battled his way from 16th on the grid to finish the race in ninth-place; thus, earning him the Most Progressive Driver of the Race award.
The race nearly came off with out a single caution until Marc Breuers had a harmless spin through the tri-oval. The leaders came around once under caution before restarting a four-lap sprint to the finish.
The race will air on espn 2 on April the 27 at 6:00 p.m. EDT.
Points after Round Three:
Rossoni, 40; Fogarty, 40; Koster, 38; Valiante 34; Hunter-Reay, 32; Matt Plumb, 30; Lally, 28; Sperafico 25; Roger Yasukawa, 23; Thed Bjork, 17; Boss, 16; Andre Nicastro, 15; Jamie Menninga, 11; Brent Sherman, 11; Jonathan Macri 8