(LAKEVILLE, Conn.) Jan. 27,2000 -Patrick Long proved that Laguna Seca wasn't a fluke.
Long, a Skip Barber Karting Scholarship recipient, followed up his strong performance at Laguna with an even more impressive outing this past weekend in the Formula Dodge Western Race Series stop at Phoenix International Raceway. In his first Formula Dodge start at Phoenix, Long captured the pole in two race groups and then led wire-to-wire in all four races, leading a total of 98 laps.
In other action at Phoenix, Western Series points leader Ryan Howe stretched his winning streak to seven with two victories in Group 3. Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Davy Cook split the honors in Group 2. Masters Division victories went to Peter Ponder-Pistor (three), Quentin Wahl (two) and John Browne.
Long made his debut this season at Laguna Seca in December, posting two victories in four starts. He obviously had no trouble adjusting to the 1.51-mile, 11-turn combination oval/road course at PIR.
Long closest challenger was Luyendyk Jr., who finished 2.443 seconds behind in Saturday's race in Group 4. On Sunday, Luyendyk Jr. and Brian Angen swapped their positions from a day earlier with Angen finishing in the runner-up spot.
Wahl and Ponder-Pistor had the chore of trying to keep up with Long in Group 1, but each had to settle for a second-place finish. Peter Ackroyd rounded out the podium on Saturday while Aurelio Lopez (11th to 3rd) and Brett Arsenault (12th to 4th) both turned in great drives on Sunday.
Luyendyk Jr., the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, and Cook engaged in the best battles for the lead in Group 2.
Luyendyk Jr. was phenomenal on Saturday, coming from fifth-place to nip Cook (who led 14 laps) by .212 seconds. However, Cook seized control early in the rematch and didn't let up, posting a convincing victory over Luyendyk Jr. Tom Atherton had the best view of the duels up front with a pair of third-place finishes.
Howe, another Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winner, has been tough to beat for quite some time.
Scott Presti, a top contender in the Southern Race Series, discovered that fact in Group 3. The best Presti could do was two seconds as Howe led 48 of 50 laps. Ponder-Pistor finished behind Presti in both races. Christian Szymczak drove a great race on Sunday, advancing from 12th to fourth.
Szymczak then concluded the weekend with a victory in the non-points Memorial race, coming from 10th to beat Jason Perry and Angen.