Skerlong Opens Scoring With Long Beach Top-Ten Mukilteo, Washington (April 16, 2007) -- The streets of Long Beach, California hosted the second round of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda on ...
Skerlong Opens Scoring With Long Beach Top-Ten
Mukilteo, Washington (April 16, 2007) -- The streets of Long Beach, California hosted the second round of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda on Sunday, 15th April, and Seattle's Carl Skerlong backed up his emerging street racing credentials with a ninth place finish at the flag, the series rookie opening his points account for the season.
The 18-year-old bounced back from the disappointment of DNF'ing the previous weekend's opener in Las Vegas by firing himself back into the top-ten in Friday's first practice session. He followed that up with a 13th place effort in the first of two qualifying sessions to set the grid for Sunday's 50-minute race on the classic 1.968-mile Long Beach street course. Carl piloted the #24 King Taco/US RaceTronics Swift Mazda-Cosworth round the track in 1m17.821s (91.040mph) while Round 1 race winner, Brazil's Raphael Matos clinched provisional pole on the Friday.
Saturday's second qualifying session reflected much of Friday's running with Carl once again setting the 13th fastest time. With laps times tumbling each time out, Skerlong's qualifying time, a 1m16.683s (92.331mph), sealed his position on the seventh row of the grid for Sunday's race while Raphael Matos again topped the timesheets for his fifth career pole, his best a 1m15.724s (93.561mph).
Under clear Californian skies, Sunday's street sprint saw the 30-car field launch off the start line with Carl up two spots by the end of the first lap and just prior to the first caution period of the race. Having shown his pace earlier in the day, coming in second fastest at the end of the morning warm-up, the young American continued to build speed, breaking into the top-ten at the restart before taking ninth ahead of a second full course caution on lap six.
Tailing former Champ Car driver, Denmark's Ronnie Bremer, Carl darted past his more experience rival to snatch eighth on the second restart but they swapped positions on the following lap with Carl back in eighth shadowing Bremer. A third caution period on lap 15 bunched the pack back up again and when they finally enjoyed some clean running through to the checkered, on lap 31, the tight layout of the track hindered overtaking opportunities. Carl, never less than half a second behind Bremer, led an attack on the Dane down the main straight-away two laps from the end but his rival held his line to keep the feisty rookie in ninth at the flag.
Matos claimed his second win, heading home America's Jonathan Bomarito and Canada's Robert Wickens. Matos leads Wickens in the Driver Standings (65-54) while Carl, the reigning Formula TR Pro Series 2000 Champion, opened his scoring with 13 points to place 14th overall after two rounds.
"All in all I felt it was a productive race," said Skerlong. "We weren't as far up the grid as we'd have liked but we learned a lot and ended up top-ten, which in this field, isn't a bad result. Racing at Long Beach has always been a dream of mine so it would have been a great race no matter what. I can't thank the whole US RaceTronics team enough, they did an awesome job getting the car back ready to race in the few days that we had after wrecking in Vegas -- they did a great job all weekend!"
Round 2 from Long Beach will be broadcast on TV as a tape-delay on ESPN2 on Thursday 19th April at 5:30pm EST. Round 3 takes place this weekend, 20th-22nd April, in Houston, Texas.