Promising Debut Ends Early For Skerlong Mukilteo, Washington (April 09, 2007) -- Carl Skerlong's debut in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda lasted just four laps on Sunday (8th April) as ...
Promising Debut Ends Early For Skerlong
Mukilteo, Washington (April 09, 2007) -- Carl Skerlong's debut in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda lasted just four laps on Sunday (8th April) as the 18-year-old found himself punted into one of the Las Vegas street circuit's punishing concrete walls. Despite having his first competitive outing behind the wheel of the #24 King Taco/US RaceTronics Swift Mazda-Cosworth unceremoniously cut short, the Seattle rookie had earlier showcased his talents on the challenging 2.44-mile temporary track.
Arriving in Las Vegas off the back of some impressive pre-season testing performances, Carl's first taste of a Champ Car Atlantic Championship weekend provided some continuity for the reigning Formula TR Pro Series 2000 Champion. Comfortably amongst the front-runners in Friday morning's practice, posting the tenth fastest time from the assembled 27-strong field, Carl wasted little time in easing himself into the demands of competing on a street course for the first time in his career.
Friday's qualifying session, the first of two to set the grid for Sunday afternoon's 50-minute race, saw Carl come to the fore as he led the rookie challenge setting the second fastest time of the day, just missing out on securing a front-row starting slot in the process. With a charging lap of 1m32.443s (95.021mph), Skerlong's best was only beaten by James Hinchcliffe and by a mere three hundredths of a second, the Canadian sophomore entrant subsequently picking up a point for provisional pole having been run close by his American rival.
Saturday's second qualifying outing saw a frantic fight for pole with lap times traded back and forth. Carl was again in the mix as he hustled his 300bhp Atlantic racer around the concrete walls lining the streets of Vegas. In the end Skerlong's fastest time, a 1m31.203s (96.313mph), was just one thousand of a second shy from securing a third row grid slot, the American lining up seventh overall for Sunday's opening round with Canadian Robert Wickens capturing pole with a 1m30.934s lap.
A solid start to Sunday's race saw Carl pick up a three places before the first of four caution periods presented itself early in the proceedings. Unfortunately for Carl, moments after the re-start he was to be the reason for the second full-course caution as he was collected from behind by France's Franck Perera. The #24 King Taco/US RaceTronics entry pitched into the wall at Turn 5 wrecking the left-hand side of the car. Suffering terminal damage Skerlong's promising debut was brought to a premature end by the incident, his car one of 15 in total to retire from the race. Brazil's Raphael Matos triumphed through the carnage beating Wickens and Jonathan Bomarito to the checkered.
"Well besides crashing out this has been a great weekend," said Carl. "Everyone on the team worked really hard and we've had a top three car for pretty much the whole event. I was held up a bit in traffic in Saturday qualifying which hurt but going into the race we knew we had a decent set-up. This was my first ever street course event so a few things were new to me but heading to Long Beach next weekend I've got a lot of confidence in both the team and the car that we can keep it at the front."
Round 1 from Las Vegas will be broadcast on TV as a tape-delay on ESPN2 on Friday 13th April at 5pm EST. Round 2 takes place this weekend, 13th-15th April, at Long Beach, California.