A.J. Allmendinger secured the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship last weekend with his third place finish, but as the series visits Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this weekend, there is still much to be decided for the rest of the championship with two...
A.J. Allmendinger secured the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship last weekend with his third place finish, but as the series visits Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this weekend, there is still much to be decided for the rest of the championship with two races remaining with the second through fifth spots in the championship battle still very much up in the air. Marc Breuers holds on to second in the championship by just seven points over Rafael Sperafico with Davy Cook just nine points ahead of Dan Di Leo.
Last weekends race at Mid-Ohio saw several firsts, as Christian Szymzack won his first ever Barber Dodge Pro Series pole, with Marc Breuers taking his first ever Barber Dodge Pro Series race win, and A.J. Allmendinger winning his first ever championship in the Barber-Cart ladder.
The race at Road America should also be expected to produce another round of close action, as the 4.048 mile circuit provides excellent passing opportunities for the drivers as the track features both long and fast straights as well as tight and slow corners, bunching the competitors under braking and creating passing opportunities. Most of the drivers in the field have a lot of miles on the track in competition, and all of them are looking forward to the race this weekend.
"I love this track," said Marc Breuers. "It's really fast, and smooth, and it just has everything you could want in a track with the long fast sweepers and the slower corners for passing. I am really looking forward to this race with the new confidence I have after taking my first win last week."
Last year, Breuers finished 11th after moving up to fourth from his tenth place starting position before gearbox gremlins slowed him down near the end of the race.
Another driver to look out for will be Christian Szymczak, who took the pole at Mid-Ohio and led the first half of the race before Breuers passed him on the way to victory. Szymczak fell further back in the field, a victim of his car overheating from debris clogging his sidepods. Szymczak now knows what it takes to win the pole and lead the race, and will no doubt be looking to repeat that performance this weekend.
Davy Cook, who took his first win in the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Cleveland round race finished well at the picturesque Wisconsin track last year when he converted his fifth place qualifying position into a fourth place finish. Cook is mindfull of the points still in play for the last two rounds of the season and will hope to repeat his performance from Cleveland at Road America.
"This is some of the closest racing I have seen, and everyone is closing in on each other in the championship, so it should be tight again at Road America. I really want to qualify as close to the front as possible, because even though there are several places to pass here, its still vitally important to start as far up front as possible given how close everyone is come race time."
Champion-elect Allmendinger is also a fan of the track where he posted a seventh place finish last year when he ran a limited schedule after qualifying back in 20th position.
"I really like racing here and now that the championship is settled, I don't have to think about it and I can just go out and try and win the next two races."
First qualifying takes place at 4:45 PM on Friday, with final qualifying taking place at 11:30 AM on Saturday. The 40-minute race is scheduled to start at 9:00 AM on Sunday. Full results and story will be posted at www.barberdodge.com.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of CART. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.
To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.
* Danica Patrick will not be racing this weekend as a prior commitment surrounding the Monterey Historics vintage event will prevent her from racing. Patrick will rejoin the series for the season finale in Montreal.
* Josh Rehm has moved back into the top ten in the series standings after his season-best sixth place finish moved him ahead of Josh Beulieu, who suffered a mechanical failure at Mid Ohio. Rehm has finished in the top ten of every race he has entered this season.
* Dan Di Leo moved into the top five in points on the strength of his fourth-place finish at Mid-Ohio, and by having finished in the top five in four of the last five events. Di Leo is hoping to emulate Breuers effort at Mid Ohio and take his first Barber Dodge win at Road America.
* Julio Campos of Curitiba, Brazil will not drive the No. 21 Michelin liveried Dodge Reynard in the remaining two rounds of the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series after failing to meet the on track performance standards of his Barber-CART Formula Dodge National Championship Scholarship. The Michelin livery will be run in the final two rounds at Road America and Montreal by champion-elect A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister, Calif on the No. 29 Dodge Reynard.
* Round Six of the Barber Dodge Pro Series will be televised on Speed Channel on Saturday, August 17th at 1:00 PM EST.