Toronto, Ont. (July 7, 2002) - A.J. Allmendinger won the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Molson Indy Toronto in a race where battles for the top positions lasted the entire race. Allmendinger started from the second position, took the lead on...
Toronto, Ont. (July 7, 2002) - A.J. Allmendinger won the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Molson Indy Toronto in a race where battles for the top positions lasted the entire race. Allmendinger started from the second position, took the lead on lap 9, and held it for the rest of the event. Memo Rojas finished second, and Marc Breuers was third in the race shortened by a couple laps having reached its time limit before the allotted laps.
Pole sitter Rafael Sperafico initially led but had Allmendinger challenging him immediately. Sperafico protected the inside in turn one on lap 9, which allowed Allmendinger to pull out wide and dive down the inside of Sperafico into turn two. Sperafico challenged back at turn three but could not get the position back.
"I need to thank Rafael a lot," said Allmendinger. "He raced me very clean and I tried to do the same for him. Fortunately he got a little deep into corner one. I was able to square the corner off and get a run down on him."
Behind these two, Rojas and Breuers battled for third, and were safely ahead of the big battle for 5th which included about 6 cars. Davy Cook, in the motorsport.com sponsored car, initially held this 5th place, but was passed by local favourite Dan Di Leo and then Josh Beaulieu a couple laps later to fall to 7th. Beaulieu threw the position away a few laps later when he crashed out of the race, and brought out a full-course yellow.
"A.J. and Rafael were running at a slightly quicker pace than Marc and I were," said Rojas. "I was pushing as hard as I could and almost touched the wall a few times in the race." Rojas and Breuers were safely ahead of the rest, despite the yellows.
Further down in the field, Rhonda Trammel, who started 12th, spun at corner one and collected Piero Rodarte. Rodarte was able to continue with a bent front wing, but was black-flagged during the full course yellow. Trammel had more excitement later on when she locked up and ran into the back of Tom Fogarty, sending Fogarty out of the race. This brought out another full course yellow.
Sperafico challenged Allmendinger on the restart after this period. "My car was not great on cold tires in the opening laps and the first restart," said Allmendinger. "Rafael was really good on the restarts. I got a decent jump, but he got a better one. He went down the inside, and tried to get on the brakes about five feet later." Sperafico locked up, missed the corner and fell to last of the runners. He eventually finished 11th.
Perhaps the best performance of the race however was run by Christian Szymczak, who had a stonking race. He was involved in a incident on lap one, which sent him to last position. However, he battled his way up through the field and sat 5th going into the last lap. He managed to pass Cook (who had moved up to 4th after repassing Di Leo and the problems to Sperafico and Beaulieu) on the last lap to take 4th position.
So the finishing order was Allmendinger followed by Rojas, Breuers, Szymczak, Cook and Di Leo. Allmendinger now leads the championship by a massive 45 points, 102 to the 57 if Breuers.