WHAT: Round 8 of 12 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the Target Grand Prix of Chicago WHEN: Single-Car Qualifying Friday, July 27 from 4:15-5:15 p.m. Final Qualifying, RACE START Saturday, July 15 at 3:15 p.m. for 60...
WHAT: Round 8 of 12 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the Target Grand Prix of Chicago
WHEN: Single-Car Qualifying Friday, July 27 from 4:15-5:15 p.m. Final Qualifying, RACE START Saturday, July 15 at 3:15 p.m. for 60 laps.
WHERE: Chicago Motorspeedway, Cicero, Il.
WHO: 21 drivers from six different countries [entry list available at barberdodge.com]
TELEVISION: ESPN 2 on Aug 20 at 5:30-6:00 p.m. EDT; rebroadcast on Aug 27 at 4:30-5:00 a.m. EDT
Drivers who have used the Barber Pro Series as a steppingstone into the world of top level auto racing include: 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner and current CART driver Kenny Brack; 2000 Indy 500 winner and current driver for the BMW-WilliamsF1 team, Juan Pablo Montoya
All drivers compete in identically prepared single-seat, open-wheel race cars which are owned, maintained and transported by the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
In 1998, world famous racecar manufacturer Reynard Motorsport, was called upon to design an all new carbon-fiber monocoque chassis exclusively for the series. That chassis is mated to an all aluminum 3.5 liter V6 Dodge engine tuned to deliver 265 peak horsepower driven through a six-speed sequential Hewland gearbox. The Reynard Dodge 98E is shod with Michelin Pilot SX racing slicks.
Races are 40 minutes in duration with points allocated to the top-15 finishers (20 to the winner, then 16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). A driver's ten best results count toward the championship total. An additional point is awarded to the fastest qualifier. $1 million in prize money is awarded over the course of the year.
All 12 rounds of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series will again be televised on ESPN2 as well as ESPN International.
Windy City Wonder
For the second event in a row, the Barber Dodge Series will visit a new event, this time in the form of the Chicago Motor Speedway for round 8 of the 2001 season. The stop in the Windy City will be the one and only oval race of the 2001 series and the unique paper-clip layout of the Cicero, IL venue will pose some interesting challenges for the drivers.
In early July, the Barber Dodge test team of drivers Barry Waddell, Oswaldo Negri and Rod MacLeod and Series Engineer Louis D'Agostino along with tire engineers from Michelin conducted an advance test at the speedway. Apart from using the test to establish a baseline for the Dodge Reynard 98E racecars and test a variety of Michlein compounds, the test revealed that drivers can use at least two different techniques to navigate the 1-mile oval that has a slight six degrees of banking. Unlike some other ovals, particularly of the high-speed variety where drivers do not shift gears and may not brake into corners, the Chicago track will require Barber Dodge drivers to do both. How much braking and shifting will be determined by each driver's style. In any case, expect the fastest drivers to produce lap times around 30 seconds and if conditions are right a pole time of 29 seconds is not unthinkable.
The last time the Barber Dodge Pro Series competed on an oval was in May of 2000 at Nazareth Speedway when the now infamous snowstorm blighted race day, sending the Champ Car teams home. The Barber Dodge drivers waited till Monday to get the race off in which Sepp Koster took his first career win leading the race from the drop of the green flag. Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second in what at the time was his third professional race start and his first ever oval race.
Both drivers are heading into round 8 with considerable momentum. Hunter-Reay drove a stirring race at the last round in Toronto to take his second career victory. Koster has victories this year at Lime Rock Park and Cleveland. Hunter-Reay trails points-leader Nicolas Rondet by 4 points while Koster resides fifth with a six-point deficit to the lead. In their way will be Matt Plumb and Roger Yasukawa, both third-year veterans. Plumb lies third overall thanks to several powerhouse performances in the last four rounds. Yasukawa, fourth overall has scored points at every round this year including a career best second-place in Detroit. He finished fifth last year at Nazareth. Rondet has managed to stay ahead of the field with some solid drives but will need to get back onto the podium if he is to protect his position.
As always a new venue is likely to throw something interesting into the mix, although at Toronto it was the front-runners who ruled the proceedings. Several drivers are making their oval debuts and since those with oval experience haven't had the pleasure since the beginning of April 2000, it leaves one to wonder what the Windy City will bring.