(August 5, 2001, Mount Meridian, Ind.) - Brazilian Julio Campos may have raised some eyebrows at Grattan Raceway in June when he became the first multiple winner of the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship season. Anyone surprised then surely...
(August 5, 2001, Mount Meridian, Ind.) - Brazilian Julio Campos may have raised some eyebrows at Grattan Raceway in June when he became the first multiple winner of the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship season. Anyone surprised then surely wasn't today after a convincing double-victory in Rounds 7 and 8 to set the tone for the homestretch and take a firm grip of the championship lead.
Questions abounded at the start of the weekend. Was Campos' double in Michigan an anomaly? How much longer could A.J. Allmendinger's podium streak last? The Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner had five consecutive podiums dating back to Sebring. And what about Dan Di Leo, Landon Yee, Dan Kraus and Grant Maiman? Each capable of breaking out with a victory or podium by demonstrating consistent drives and steady improvement.
But it was Campos who had all the answers. By winning today over Dan Di Leo and Landon Yee, the Brazilian put together back-to-back wins from pole for the second time this season and ran his consecutive victory streak to four.
Six different countries were represented among 21 young racers, but it was Campos who spoke the dominant language. In addition to Brazil, Canada and the U.S., the three countries that comprised both podiums, there were racer representatives from Peru, Venezuela and Japan.
>From the green flag on, Campos and second place starter Di Leo pulled away from the field, suggesting that these two would duel to the last lap. Could Campos really win four straight? Would Di Leo capture his second win of the season? Di Leo managed to keep within three to four car lengths but any pressure applied was fleeting, never sustained. The early battle for third was shaping up as a grueling match featuring Juan Manuel Polar and Tophie Stewart. It was so heated that the two came together in turn-1, resulting in contact and a trip off-course that neither had planned. The excursion left both mid to back of pack and reduced prospects for a podium result. Not with the way Campos and company were running.
Both Yee and Allmendinger benefited from their misfortune, advancing to occupy the vacant slots. Warwick, New York's Dan Kraus also gained ground and was now seated fifth, where he would eventually finish. Kraus' fifth was his best result since a second place showing at IRP. Another strong performer was Curt Andrews, who raced with inspiration and improved from 12th to finish eighth behind Tommy Contino in seventh. Andrews, out of Plymouth, Wisconsin, advanced as far forward as seventh before losing a spot to the Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner. Contino retained his seventh spot to the checkered flag.
But in the end, it was all about Campos.
"I'm very happy. It was a very hard race. All the time close. Dan wasn't able to take my draft and pass but he was there the whole time. It was obviously a good weekend," understated Campos.
Despite his success, Campos refuses to rest on his laurels and displays an incredible focus to perform the task at hand.
"I'm here for the points," said the four-time race winner. "The championship is all about points. I know it will be tough but I'm here to win the championship," he added emphatically.
Di Leo leaves Indiana with mixed emotions and is already looking ahead to [Round 9] Connecticut.
"It's the best weekend I've had in the Skip Barber Race Series. 30 points so it's a great weekend. But unfortunately it was Julio who beat me both times and that's a bit tough." He continued, "He was faster than me on one side of the track and I was faster on the other, which made trying to pass harder. But give him credit. He did a nice job. I was trying to force a mistake, but it never happened. Now we'll go into Lime Rock Park, a track I know well. He hasn't been there before so hopefully I'll be able to take advantage of that."
Yee's third place and consecutive podiums mean he stays in the series points hunt. He spoke of the challenges he faced to finish third.
"I was able to capitalize on Stewart and Polar coming together in turn-1 and gain positions, slowly close in on the leaders. Then I got by Allmendinger. I got a good run coming out of 10 and the draft sucked me up. In turn-1, I popped out and was able to make a pass in the braking zone. Fortunately I was able to pull away after that and stay in third.
With his car still warm from the action, Yee too was setting goals for Round 9 at Lime Rock.
"I'm very familiar with that track. My goal is to beat everybody that's ahead of me in the points. It would be an ideal place to score my first victory in the National Championship so hopefully Lime Rock will be good to me."