Maia wires the field at Road America

Leonardo Maia won the Barber Dodge Pro Series race today at Road America in convincing fashion. Maia took the lead from the pole and pulled away to a 2 second lead by the end of the first lap. Newly crowned champion A.J. Allmendinger was...

Leonardo Maia won the Barber Dodge Pro Series race today at Road America in convincing fashion. Maia took the lead from the pole and pulled away to a 2 second lead by the end of the first lap. Newly crowned champion A.J. Allmendinger was second, but had no challenge for Maia, even after a restart from a late yellow flag session.

The first lap was an adventure for fourth-starting Rafael Sperafico. First he lost the nose cover after contact with another car in turn 5 then he spun at turn 12 when he tried a pass on Allmendinger without getting completely alongside. Sperafico recovered and continued far back in the field.

Allmendinger made quick progress through the top part of the field, working up from the tenth starting position to fifth by the end of the first lap. He then took second place from Memo Rojas on the fifth lap. By then, Maia had settled into a solid 3-second advantage and Allmendinger soon stretched his edge on the rest of the pack by a similar distance.

The battle in the rest of the top ten for the middle portions of the race was very entertaining, with Dan Di Leo, Davy Cook, Rojas, and Marc Breuers fighting for third position, then Breuers, German Quiroga, Jon Vannini, Aurelio Lopez Jr. scrapping for sixth after Di Leo, Rojas, and Cook had broken away.

On lap 10, Cook passed on the outside of Rojas for fourth position in turn 1, but Rojas clipped the rear of Cook's car on the following straight. The contact turned Cook's car sideways and sent it into the concrete under the walkover bridge. Rojas lost enough momentum for Josh Beaulieu to get by for fourth. The race's only caution period was called to remove Cook's damaged car.

Beaulieu passed Di Leo as the green waved to restart at the beginning of lap 13, and another fine joust broke out among Lopez, Vannini, Breuers, Christian Szymczak, and Sperafico for the seventh through 11th positions. Vannini held the top position in that group for a lap, but Lopez and Sperafico slipped by on the next lap.

Beaulieu made a challenge of Allmendinger for the second spot, but he put two wheels off the track in turn 14, and had to fend off a challenge from Di Leo due to the momentum that he lost. Rojas held on to fifth position after exchanging it a couple of times with Quiroga in the closing laps. Lopez, Sperafico and Vannini remained in the next three spots and Breuers, last week's winner at Mid-Ohio, had to settle for tenth.

The Barber series has only one more race in the 2002 championship season at the Molson Indy Montreal on August 25. Although the Allmendinger clinched the championship last week at Mid-Ohio, many of the remaining points positions are up for grab. Breuers leads Sperafico for 2nd place by only four points. Fourteen points covers the 3rd through 6th positions. Di Leo, Cook, Rojas and Maia are all in the running for 3rd with 21 points available at Montreal. Even the eighth position in the championship is still open, with Beaulieu, Szymczak, and Julio Campos covered by nine points.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Josh Beaulieu , Aurelio Lopez , Christian Szymczak , German Quiroga , Davy Cook , Julio Campos , Memo Rojas , Leonardo Maia , A.J. Allmendinger , Marc Breuers , Jon Vannini , Rafael Sperafico