Pit Visit Costs Skerlong in San Jose San Jose, California (July 29, 2007) -- Carl Skerlong had yet another strong point-scoring finish snatched away from him on Sunday as a trip to the pits left the Seattle-born rookie languishing six laps ...
Pit Visit Costs Skerlong in San Jose
San Jose, California (July 29, 2007) -- Carl Skerlong had yet another strong point-scoring finish snatched away from him on Sunday as a trip to the pits left the Seattle-born rookie languishing six laps behind the leaders with a 17th place finish in Round 11 of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, hosted at the Redback Raceway temporary street course in San Jose, California.
Having rocketed through the order from 17th on the grid to eighth by lap 12, contact with fellow American J.R. Hildebrand damaged the front-left wing on Skerlong's #24 King Taco/US RaceTronics Swift-Mazda Cosworth. Clipping the concrete wall at Turn 6 having valiantly raced on for several more laps despite the damage sustained to the front-end of his car, Carl was eventually forced to pit and in doing so the 18-year-old saw his chances of a potential top-six finish disappear.
San Jose's 1.5-mile street course provided Skerlong with a rollercoaster of a weekend. A disappointing 17th place Friday qualifying effort was followed up by a more encouraging fourth fastest run in Saturday morning's practice session. A rookie braking error in the second qualifying session later in the day pitched Carl into the tire barrier and out of the pole battle, the American racer forced to start Sunday's 50-minute race from 17th while countryman and California native Jonathan Bomarito claimed his first career pole with a best lap time of 55.286 (93.962mph).
Sunday's race started well for Skerlong, the reigning Formula TR Pro Series 2000 Champion launching off the line and reveling in the pace of his 300bhp open-wheel challenger. Breaking into the top-ten by the second lap all was looking good until contact at the hairpin with Hildebrand on lap 12 broke his front-wing, the damage and its consequences eventually leading to an enforced six lap layover in the pits for repairs. Back on track with 18-minutes of the 50-minute race remaining, Carl placed 18th before he climbed a position to 17th at the checkered.
Jonathan Bomarito converted his pole position into a lights-to-flag victory heading home two-time winner Franck Perera, from France and Canada's Robert Wickens. Raphael Matos' fourth place finish was enough to net the Brazilian sophomore driver the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Championship title with a round to spare.
"I had a great start, I made up at least six spots off the line and we thankfully kept it clean through the first turn," Skerlong reflected. "We knew straight away we had the speed to be a top-five car but after Jonathan (Edwards) got it parked at the hairpin after the re-start I had to try and avoid him and in turn Hildebrand hit me. It wasn't his fault, neither of us really had anywhere to go as it's tight down there.
"Unfortunately the front-wing was badly damaged and it eventually broke off and I caught the wall at Turn 6 and damaged the rear suspension. I got the car back to the pits, we went a bunch of laps down but we got back out there and after that it was a case of finishing and collecting some points from the weekend. I hope I'm getting all my bad luck out of the way in my rookie season so I can go for the championship next year!"
Sunday's race from San Jose will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Thursday 2nd August at 5:30pm EST.