Road America provided a picturesque backdrop for many motivated racers looking to put aside the events of last week. Several drivers were presented with challenges just to get to Elkart Lake, given the airport shutdown and uncertain atmosphere.
Road America provided a picturesque backdrop for many motivated racers looking to put aside the events of last week. Several drivers were presented with challenges just to get to Elkart Lake, given the airport shutdown and uncertain atmosphere. Still, the Formula Dodge Midwest Regional Championship was at stake and everyone wanted to be a part of it. Chris Baker and Daniel Lancaster, two championship contenders were committed to playing out the season finale in person, despite the travel odds against them.
Steve Welk gridded up from pole on Road America's 4.0-mile long course, a spot he would maintain throughout the 11-lap contest. Welk fought off a steady ride from Brian Shepherd, who started from the number 2 spot. Welk may have put his karting experience to his advantage as he managed to build a lead over Shepherd. Welk also ably set fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:35.084 sec. Trailing slightly were Doug Witman, Jim Victor and John Dubbs, engaged in a fantastic skirmish that ran all the way to the last lap. Witman proved strongest among them, securing his first Skip Barber Race Series podium. Martin Zimmerman and Mike Lattos were also involved in a heated race of their own. Ron Schilling earned most progressive driver distinction with his advancement from 11th to eighth place.
Group 2 race 1 was set as a possible championship-determining race. A win by polesitter Chris Baker would give him the championship. Baker and second place starter Brett Fenske had good starts. Fenske hustled quickly from fourth place start to slot in to second behind Baker. The two had a fantastic race with Fenske upsetting Baker on lap four, if only temporarily. Baker resumed the point quickly and then held the advantage all the way to the checkered flag and championship. A disappointed Daniel Lancaster finished third to round out the podium. Young Chase Patzer continues to shine as he moved up to a top-5 result from 14th on the grid.
First time driver Charles Beeler qualified on pole but only led for a short while before a spin under pressure forced his penalty. Mike Kolacki inherited the point for two before he was reeled in by ninth place starter Brooks Stevens. Stevens, in his second race of the day, seemed to benefit from the earlier action. Kolacki would go on to have a good battle with Cal Wheaton and Michael MacNeil for fourth, ultimately won by Wheaton. Though Beeler fell back and finished off the podium, he managed to set the fastest lap of the group with a time of 2:37.859 sec.
Day one of racing ended with the aptly named American Memorial in which New Yorker Roland Isra, Tim Traver and Skip Barber Race Series Mechanic Conrad Grunewald finished 1-2-3.
The second day of race action started with Steve Welk on pole for the second consecutive day. After an initial drop on lap 1, Welk rebounded to take back the lead from Brian Shepherd, who held it for one lap. Shepherd hung on as long but slowly dropped back and fell into the clutches of Jim Victor, who slotted in to P2 on lap 7. Victor and Shepherd had a huge scrap for second that went on to the end, eventually taken by Victor with Shepherd in third. A number of races within the race were going on, including John Dubbs and Martin Zimmerman, volleying their positions with abandon. Slightly back, Kevin Hall, Brian Schmitz and Mike Lattos waged an extremely tight battle that saw them in nose-to-tail formation for most of the race. The three crossed the finish line within one second of eachother.
Newly crowned champion Chris Baker was just as motivated at the start of group 2 race 2, as he gridded from pole again. Though the championship had been determined earlier, it didn't stop these guys from racing hard. Baker's nemesis this day was Whitney Bellows, who tried everything to spoil Baker's fun. Though lap charts show Bellows leading only two laps, he actually led several times in the charged contest at different parts of the track. The two seemed never more than a car length apart. Only a wide sweep of the apex by Bellows in the final turn allowed Baker the room he needed to challenge. The two crossed the line in a photo finish. After careful transponder review, Baker was awarded the victory by a thin 0:006 sec. Championship runner-up Daniel Lancaster finished with his second consecutive podium in third ahead of Masters Champion Roland Isra, in fourth.
Brook Stevens started and ran from pole in the day's last action. Stevens, who set a fastest lap time of 2:36.183 sec., led Atticus Missner and Mike Kolacki all 11 laps en route to his second victory of the weekend. Missner and Brett Milner ran hard together until Milner went four-off on lap 6,leaving Missner in the P2 spot. Kolacki overcame a four-off and pit stop to claim third place and his first Skip Barber Race Series podium. Eric Weicek improved on his 12th place start position and finished eight to earn the most progressive driver citation.