INDIANAPOLIS (August 27, 2002) - Rocky Moran Jr. scored his second career Toyota Atlantic Championship victory and AJ Allmendinger capped off his Barber Dodge Pro Series championship season with another win at Montreal while Grant Maiman swept...
INDIANAPOLIS (August 27, 2002) - Rocky Moran Jr. scored his second career Toyota Atlantic Championship victory and AJ Allmendinger capped off his Barber Dodge Pro Series championship season with another win at Montreal while Grant Maiman swept both races in South Carolina to secure the 2002 Formula Dodge National Championship during CART Driver Development Ladder System action over the weekend.
In Atlantic action from Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Sigma Autosport's Moran Jr. made a daring outside pass in Turn 12 on the penultimate lap to take the lead from championship contender Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing) and score his first victory of the 2002 season and first since last year's race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Fogarty led the first 25 laps of the race and appeared headed to an all-important victory before relinquishing the lead as the field came to the white flag, with Moran Jr. benefiting from a huge draft as the two drivers raced down the long backstretch. Moran would hold off any last lap challenge from Fogarty to capture the win on the 2.709-mile circuit by 0.308 seconds.
Ryan Dalziel, making his debut with Hylton Motorsports after switching from Michael Shank Racing, finished in third place after a thrilling, four-lap wheel-to-wheel battle with Moran Jr. for second place. DSTP's Joey Hand continued his comeback from injury with a strong fourth-place finish while Fogarty's Dorricott teammate Alex Gurney rounded out the top five.
"This was a great race all the way through," said Moran Jr., a resident of Coto de Caza, Calif. "Jon (Fogarty) raced me very clean and I thank him for that. I am so happy I could bring Sigma Autosport their first win. Everyone there works so hard, so without a doubt, this is for them."
Point leader Michael Valiante of Lynx Racing, starting second after capturing the provisional pole on Friday, fell back early to 24th place as his right rear tire went flat after contact with the front wing of Moran Jr. and he was forced to pit. A caution flag on Lap 5 for Marc DeVellis' spin would allow him to catch up to the lead pack. Over the final 20 laps, Valiante would fight his way back up to seventh place to maintain his point lead over Fogarty.
The Montreal results have set up a one-race showdown for the championship between Valiante and Fogarty heading into this weekend's finale at the Shell Grand Prix of Denver. Valiante carries a six point lead into the race at the inaugural event on the 1.622-mile temporary street circuit surrounding the Pepsi Center.
In Pro Series action also from Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2002 champion Allmendinger continued his winning ways by capturing his sixth victory of the season, defeating Mexico's Memo Rojas by 1.707 seconds in the 18-lap race. Brazil's Rafael Sperafico was just three-tenths of a second behind Rojas in third place. Leonardo Maia of Miami, Florida, the winner a week before at Road America, finished in fourth place, while Markham, Ontario's Dan Di Leo came home in fifth position.
While Allmendinger led flag to flag, he did have to endure the pressure of two restarts after caution flags. The first caution came out on Lap 10 following an accident in Turn 7 involving Christian Szymczak, Danica Patrick and Aurelio Lopez. When the field took the green flag on Lap 15, Rojas and Di Leo made contact heading into the Turn 10 chicane, sending Di Leo into German Quiroga of Mexico. Quiroga went on a wild ride, ending with him upside down on his roll bar. He would leave the car under his own power and was cleared by CART Medical. A white/green flag restart resulted and Rojas took advantage to slip by Sperafico in Turn 1 in a sensational move for second place.
"It really can't get any better than this," said the smiling Allmendinger, a resident of Hollister, Calif. "I got a great start and the car really handled well. I had one hiccup early that allowed everyone to close up behind me but I was able to pull away again. We were able to survive the two restarts and edge out Memo and Rafael. This is a great end to a superb season in the Barber Dodge Pro Series."
In National Championship action from Carolina Motorsports Park, Maiman followed up his strong weekend at Mont Tremblant three weeks earlier to sweep both Rounds 11 and 12 of the National Championship in Kershaw, South Carolina. With the two wins, Maiman also secured the season championship with one round remaining still in October at Lime Rock Park, Conn.
Maiman actually finished third during Saturday's Round 11 but race penalties accessed to Colin Fleming and Scott Speed moved him to the top of the field after starting from the pole. Robbie Montinola continued his late season surge to finish in second place, while championship contender Scott Poirier secured the final podium position with a third place. Al Unser moved up to fourth place after starting seventh and Charlie Kimball rounded out the top five.
With the win on Saturday, Maiman was in position to capture the championship with a win again on Sunday. A great four-way battle between pole sitter Speed, Fleming, Maiman and Poirier developed early, with each leading the field at different moments. The battle settled down to just include Maiman and Poirier, with Maiman taking the win and the championship by beating Poirier to the line by just 0.472 seconds. Montinola finished in third place, with Fleming and Craig Baltzer completing the top five.
"It still hasn't sunk in that I won the championship," commented Maiman, a resident of New London, Wisc. "Now we can move onto Lime Rock with a little less pressure and try to end the season on another winning note. After that, I plan on testing as much as possible in the Pro car to properly prepare for the 2003 season."
<pre> CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES
CART Toyota Atlantic Championship (Through Round 11 of 12)
1. Michael ValianteBurnaby, BC 146 points 2. Jon Fogarty Palo Alto, Calif. 140 points 3. Alex Gurney Corona Del Mar, Calif. 117 points 4. Luis Diaz Mexico City, Mexico 114 points 5. Rocky Moran Jr. Coto de Caza, Calif. 110 points
Barber Dodge Pro Series (Through Round 10 of 10)
1. AJ Allmendinger* Hollister, Calif. 188 points 2. Rafael Sperafico Toledo Parana, Brazil 118 points 3. Marc Breuers Philadelphia, Penn. 120 points 4. Dan Di Leo Markham, Ontario 99 points 5. Memo Rojas Mexico City, Mexico 96 points *2002 Champion
Formula Dodge National Championship (Through Round 12 of 13)
1. Grant Maiman* New London, Wisc. 176 points 2. Scott Poirier Deerfield Beach, Fla. 160 points 3. Scott Speed Matneca, Calif. 118 points 4. Ward Imrie Winnipeg, Canada 116 points 5. Burt Frisselle Kihei, Hawaii 104 points *2002 Champion
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will crown a champion this weekend as Lynx Racing's Michael Valiante and Dorricott Racing's Jon Fogarty battle it out at the season finale during the Shell Grand Prix of Denver, August 30th - 31st.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series has completed its regular 2002 season but will run an exhibition race at the Telmex Gigante Mexico Gran Premio 2002 in Mexico City, November 15th - 17th.
The Formula Dodge National Championship will take a break during the month of September but will return to action for the season finale at Lime Rock Park on October 11th-13th.