Lime Rock: Race report

Allmendinger dominates Lime Rock. (LIME ROCK, Conn.) May 27, 2002--Barber Dodge Pro Series championship leader A.J. Allmendinger converted his pole position into a win at the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix presented by Mohegan Sun. Marc Breuers...

Allmendinger dominates Lime Rock.

(LIME ROCK, Conn.) May 27, 2002--Barber Dodge Pro Series championship leader A.J. Allmendinger converted his pole position into a win at the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix presented by Mohegan Sun. Marc Breuers in the Sunoco Special and Rafael Sperafico driving the Barber-CART Rookie of the Year Scholarship Dodge-liveried Reynard joined Allmendinger on the podium, with Nilton Rossoni and Julio Campos rounding out the top five in Monday's race.

Starting from the pole, A.J. Allmendinger 's biggest concern before the race was that the start of the race would give his competition a good opportunity to pass him. He knew that if he could get the jump on second-place starter Breuers, that he would be able to control the pace of the race and let him build up a gap over the field. He was right, making an excellent start and quickly building up a lead early in the race over Breuers. What Allmendinger did not know was that he would have to do it again as a yellow flag late in the race bunched the field up erasing the 5.2 second lead he had built up over the field and giving Breuers one last chance to pass.

"I was really concerned about the start of the race, but I was able to keep Marc (Breuers) behind me. Once I got my tires up to temperature, I just tried to keep a good gap behind me so I could pick my spots to pass the lapped traffic instead of having to force things," said Allmendinger, who earned 22 of 23 possible points this weekend. "I was not happy at all when the yellow flag came out, since I had built up such a good lead. I knew I had to make a good start, and fortunately, I did just that and was able to bring it home in first. It's been a good weekend for me, and I am looking forward to Laguna to hopefully keep building up a lead for the championship."

Allmendinger held onto the lead through the first few laps and quickly built up a gap to second place Breuers, who was followed in quick order by Rafael Sperafico, Davy Cook, Nilton Rossoni and Leo Maia. The group of six quickly stormed ahead of the rest of the field, developing a 10-second gap over 7th place runner Memo Rojas in the Telmex machine. Dan Di Leo, who had been fastest in the morning warm up, made several unsuccessful attempts to pass Rojas, but was not able to muscle his way past the Mexican until lap 10, when Di Leo finally made the pass stick as he outbraked Rojas into Big Bend. Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Champion Scholarship winner Julio Campos, driving the Michelin-liveried machine, made the same move on Rojas one lap later and set off to try and catch Di Leo.

By lap 15, Allmendinger had built up a 1.8 second lead over Breuers, with the front six continuing to break away from the rest of the field. The running order stayed the same up front for several laps until Leo Maia bobbled in the chicane to the benefit of those behind him. Now a lap down Maia was making up for lost time, setting fastest lap in the process gaining a point for that and an additional point for clawing his way back to 15th in the final order. Cook made a challenge for the front a few laps later, when Sperafico locked his brakes heading into Big Bend, allowing Cook to get next to the Dodge machine on the outside, with the two racing wheel to wheel all the way through Big Bend. Series veteran and previous champion Rossoni was right behind this battle, and managed to squeeze past both his competitors, launching himself up into third place. This didn't last long, though, as Sperifico passed Cook back with the help of lapped traffic on the very next lap for forth.

"It was a good race for me," said the Toledo,Parana, Brazil Native. "I was busy the whole time. Davy Cook made a beautiful pass on me, but I just kept calm and I was able to get my positions back. I am looking forward to Laguna Seca."

A few laps later, the young Brazilian was able to reclaim the third position when he once again benefited when lapped traffic held up Nilton Rossoni heading into Big Bend. Rossoni, who made several attempts to pass Marc Breuers, would hold onto finish in 4th position.

Race leader Allmendinger saw his gap disappear when a three-car incident in the Downhill turn brought out a late yellow flag, bunching up the field for a three-lap dash to the finish. Breuers wasn't able to make a run on Allmendinger, but held his ground. "I was glad to see the yellow, since I was too far behind A.J. to be in a position to make a pass," said Breuers. "I had been helped out a bit in traffic as far as keeping everyone else behind me. I didn't feel like I had anything for A.J., so I was being more defensive than trying to attack. I had hoped to have a run at him on the last restart, but he did a really good job getting away so I just concentrated on bringing it home and getting the points for the season. I'm really happy with the weekend."

Josh Rehm had a strong run in his return to the Barber Dodge Pro Series, charging through the field to finish 10th after starting 16th, with Josh Beaulieu also moving up from 10th starting position to finish in 8th. Aurelio Lopez made the most passes on the day, though, as a pace-lap error forced him to start from the pack of the field and making his 11th place finish remarkable considering that the 1.54 mile track has very few good overtaking opportunities. A stuck throttle late in the race forced Davy Cook off the track, thwarting his chances of a podium finish.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series will race again in two weeks time with the CART FedEx Series event at Laguna Seca


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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Aurelio Lopez , Davy Cook , Julio Campos , Memo Rojas , A.J. Allmendinger , Marc Breuers , Rafael Sperafico , Nilton Rossoni , Skip Barber