Road America June Sprints Race report

PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: John Peckham e-mail address:johnp@umich.edu FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 23, 1997 LaLiberte Turns Sour...

PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT: John Peckham e-mail address:johnp@umich.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 23, 1997

LaLiberte Turns Sour Qualifying Experience Into Promising Race

Elkhart Lake, WI -- A cancelled second qualifying session for the SCCA's 42nd June Sprints at Road America threatened any hopes for a good result, but Dana LaLiberte raced his Van Diemen Formula Ford 2000 to 15th place for his second straight finish in what has been a trying year for the young Ann Arbor-based driver.

After Saturday's flooding at parts of the four mile Road America road course necessitated cancellation of the final qualifying session, LaLiberte was forced to stand on his times turned in during Friday's qualifying session.

"I was planning on really going for it on Saturday, so I am pretty disappointed about not qualifying as well as I think I should have," recalls LaLiberte. "We aren't able to take part in Thursdays practice, so I was still sorting the car out during qualifying on Friday. The weather looked much better for Saturday, and indeed it was. I would have never imagined that flooding would have cancelled final qualifying!"

Rain Friday night and Saturday morning flooded three sections of the road course, and toppled the heavy, concrete retaining walls along one of the straights, cancelling all of Saturday's events.

Starting Sunday's race in 22nd position, LaLiberte knew that he had plenty of work to accomplish in the 30 minute race, but was still confident of his chances. Starting the race, he passed nine cars in the first seven corners before a red flag for an accident brought a swift end to his progress.

"There was a crash behind me that stopped the race, but I knew that I had a good enough start to continue to the front. It sickened me, however, when the officials decided to go with a complete restart in our original positions. This made it worse than before. Not only was everyone that I passed put back ahead of me, but the restart was single file, actually putting me farther back from the leader than before."

At the restart, LaLiberte worked to see the same progress as before, but found that it took more time. After two laps, he was challenging for 13th, the position he was in before the restart, when he suffered his second set-back.

Passing one of his competitors, LaLiberte failed to slow enough for one of the turns, and his car straight-shot the turn into the run-off area. Reacting quickly, LaLiberte turned his car around and headed back out into traffic, albeit in 19th position.

        "After messing up that pass, all I could do was drive as hard as I
could.  I just concentrated on catching the next guy and passing him, and
then moving on to the next.  That was all I could do."

Doing all he could do, LaLiberte passed enough cars in the remining few laps to ultimately finish in 15th position. Although he missed an opportunity to finish in the top ten, LaLiberte came away from the race with a brighter outlook for the near future.

"Yes, I did throw away a top ten finish, but my confidence is high. We got the reliability from the car this time, it was myself that screwed up. I had less track time than most of the guys out there, but I was able to run with them, and that is quite encouraging for the rest of the season.

SCCA June Sprints Top Twenty Formula Ford 2000 (46 cars starting) (position, driver, hometown)

        1          Scott Rubenizer                Milwaukee, WI
        2        Dave Weitzenhof                Bath, OH
        3        Steve Thomson                Minneapolis, MN
        4         Brian Tomasi                Illinois
        5        Mark Deefer                Streetsboro, OH
        6        Craig Keller                Cherry Valley, IL
        7        Jonathan Bottoms        Buffalo, NY
        8        David Rutledge                Vancouver, CAN
        9        Steve Stadel                na
        10        Jeff Beck                Libertyville, IL
        11        Dave Harmison                Detroit, MI
        12        Bill Weidner                Milwaukee, WI
        13        Peter Baron                Grayslake, IL
        14        Ken Dromm                Seminole, FL        
        15        Dana LaLiberte                Ann Arbor, MI
        16        Don Dreibelbis                Denver, CO
        17        Jason Bach                Toledo, OH
        18        Ollie Bessinger                Orlando, FL
        19        Paul Epifanio                na
        20        Mike Hyatt                na

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Dana LaLiberte                                                 jmfangio@umich.edu
Dana LaLiberte Motorsports           http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jmfangio
Ann Arbor, Michigan                                       Kalamazoo, Michigan
Car #98                                         US FF2000 National Championship

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers David Rutledge , Jeff Beck , Peter Baron , Steve Thomson , Brian Tomasi