Grant Maiman became the first three-time winner in the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER, fending off Scott Speed to claim Round 9 victory from pole. Although Maiman led all 14 laps, he was challenged by Speed...
Grant Maiman became the first three-time winner in the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER, fending off Scott Speed to claim Round 9 victory from pole. Although Maiman led all 14 laps, he was challenged by Speed throughout the race and captured the win by only a thin 0.399 sec. margin. Colin Fleming followed in third to record his second podium of the National Championship season. Landon Yee and Scott Poirier scored fourth and fifth place results to round out the top-5. Maiman's win allows him to pull within four points of Poirier, the series points leader.
Early on, Maiman was giving his Michelin slicks a workout and building a sizable gap back to the rest of the field. A yellow flag, the result of contact between Luis Pelayo and Burt Frisselle, reduced Maiman's advantage and served to cool his tires. Frisselle continued but Pelayo's day was done. At the restart on lap 5, Maiman snuffed out an aggressive charge from Speed to defend the point. From there, he paced the field for the balance laps.
While Maiman and Speed battled for the point, Fleming and Yee were scrapping for fourth position. Right behind them Poirier was trying to recapture momentum, having been displaced from this fourth start position. The field ran tight, in some corners like a train through the winding 14-turn circuit rife with elevation changes.
Ward Imrie and Gerardo Bonilla were staging a feverish battle for sixth when Steve Welk tried an unsuccessful pass attempt in turn-10. The result was not pretty. All three drivers made contact and went off, although Imrie and Bonilla were able to continue. Welk suffered the worst of it, his race was over.
Attrition notwithstanding, a number of racers promoted themselves quite well. Most notable was Jason Klein, who drove the race of his life. Klein advanced from 20th to finish in the top-10. The Oak Brook, Illinois native has been contesting the Midwestern Regional Championship and is obviously getting more comfortable piloting the R/T2000 at the National Championship level. Landon Yee, who set pole time for Round 10, advanced six positions from tenth and also set the fastest lap with a time of 1:48.454 sec. Robbie Montinola picked up seven spots to finish in seventh from 14th. And Justin Clayton proved he's a quick study. The Californian advanced five positions in his first ever National Championship race.
For Fleming, his podium means renewed confidence heading into the backstretch of the season.
"It's a great result," said the former karting champion."It's been a while since I've been on the podium [California Speedway, Round 3]. I had some bad races at Putnam Park and IRP but, with today's result, I definitely feel a bit revitalized."
Speed's return to form after a two round absence was impressive enough. Still, he felt he left something on the table.
"The race went very well," said Speed."Unfortunately, I left out a change I wanted to make in practice so the car was pretty loose in the rear. But I was still able to dice for the lead and challenge. Fortunately, I got second and collected more points."
Maiman's third win couldn't have come at a better time. His 21 point bounty allows his to close hard on series points leader Scott Poirier, who finished fifth.
"The race didn't end quickly enough," said Maiman. He continued,"I knew I had built up a nice gap early but the full course yellow brought everyone together. I just tried to keep my head down and re-establish that gap. I was overheating my tires a bit and Speed was reeling me in, taking advantage of my tire situation. He definitely made me think about things into the final turn."
Round 10 of the National Championship race is slated for early Sunday afternoon. Results will be posted on the Skip Barber News immediately following the action.