Milwaukee race report

Maia masters Milwaukee. WEST ALLIS, WI (May 31, 2003)-Leo Maia of Oakland, California, took his second Barber Dodge Pro Series win of the season after passing pole sitter Victor Gonzalez in the closing stages of the 60-lap race on the ...

Maia masters Milwaukee.

WEST ALLIS, WI (May 31, 2003)-Leo Maia of Oakland, California, took his second Barber Dodge Pro Series win of the season after passing pole sitter Victor Gonzalez in the closing stages of the 60-lap race on the famed Milwaukee Mile. The race had only one yellow flag, demonstrating how well the young field acclimated itself to oval racing despite it being the first oval experience for most of the racers.

Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico, made a last lap pass to take third place from Houston, Texas, native Chris Baker, who crossed the finish line in fourth ahead of Kihei, Hawaii's Burt Frisselle, who came home in fifth. Antoine Bessette of St. Brun, Quebec, finished sixth ahead of fellow Canadian Dan Di Leo. German Quiroga of Mexico City, Mexico took eighth place, with round two winner David Martinez finishing in ninth. Colin Fleming fought his way into the top ten after starting the race from the fifteenth position.

Leo Maia came into the Milwaukee round with a ten-point margin over Memo Rojas in the championship points standings, and the victory grows Maia's lead to sixteen points over Rojas. Like many of the drivers in the field, the oval race was Maia's first ever, and the young racer clearly relished his experience in Milwaukee.

"I had to be patient behind Victor nearly the whole race," said Maia. "He did a good job on the start, and then again I couldn't get by him on the restart, so I had to wait for traffic to come into play near the end, and it did. I was able to get a good run on him, and then we ran side by side for almost the whole lap, and I finally finished the pass. Once I got by, I also got some lapped cars between us, so I knew I had a buffer to the finish. I'm really excited to take this win, and looking forward to getting to Laguna."

Victor Gonzalez had raced on ovals previously with the Barber Dodge Pro Series, at Chicago and Nazareth, and his experience paid off as he led the majority of the race, but just came up short in the end. The second place finish is Gonzalez's first visit to the podium and his best career finish in the Pro Series.

"I have to congratulate Leo on a great race," said Gonzalez. "It was a lot of fun racing side-by side the whole way around the track like we did. I knew I could trust racing with him. I just wish I had come out on top. I am still very satisfied with this weekend, and with this result, now I am looking forward to getting him in Laguna.

Memo Rojas took third place on the very last lap, and the result is his third third-place finish of the season.

"I had to make the most of the opportunities as they came during the race," said Rojas. "It was difficult here, since if you got too close to the guy ahead of you, the car would lose grip with the aerodynamics. It was a very exciting last lap, I was behind Chris Baker, and he just got wide and I was able to pass him to get on the podium again, so I'm happy and looking forward to racing at Laguna."

Chris Baker had his best result in his Barber Dodge Pro Series career, taking fourth after qualifying in fourth and running at the sharp end of the field for the whole race.

"I had a great race, but I just got a little out of the groove on the last lap, and Memo got me," said Baker. "I was going to try and hold the outside line, but I knew if it didn't work, Frisselle would be right there to take the spot from me so I just tucked into Memo's draft to the finish."

The race got off to a clean start as Gonzalez led the field to the green flag after pace car driver (and former Barber Dodge Pro Series competitor) Sara Senske formed the field. The field filed in line at the green with Maia tucking in behind Gonzalez and Wieringa slotting into third. Dan Di Leo made the most of the start as he passed Antoine Bessette for position, only to be shuffled back in the order one lap later. On lap four, Mike Richardson and Steve Welk of nearby Franklin, Wisconsin, made contact to bring out the yellow flag and regroup the field. Both racers got out of their cars unscathed, but both cars had too much damage to continue.

The field recognized that the best chance to pass was likely going to be on the restart, and there were attempts made from the front of the pack to the rear. On the restart, Maia tried again to get a run on Gonzalez, but the Puerto Rican timed the restart perfectly and held Maia off. Antoine Bessette made a bid for fourth place and got under Chris Baker, but Baker held his line on the outside and held onto the position.

The order remained largely static at the front of the field, as the cool temperatures and lack of grip owing to overnight showers prevented the drivers from being able to run safely side by side in the corners and still make a pass. The front order changed, though, when David Wieringa temporarily lost power with an electrical problem, dropping him from third to sixteenth.

"Its disappointing since I was pretty much just cruising to the podium," said Wieringa. "Victor and Leo had enough of a gap ahead of me, that I knew I was going to have a hard time to catch up with them, but I also in turn had a good gap, so when the engine cut out, it was really frustrating. It was a great race otherwise."

Gonzalez remained in control of the race, and soon after the halfway point, began to encounter lapped traffic. Maia had closed the gap to Gonzalez, and tried to pass him on the inside when Gonzalaz encountered his first lapped car, but Gonzalez was able to hold the outside line and keep the lead.

There was more traffic ahead, though, and Maia was well poised to make the most of it as Gonzalez again had to crack out of the throttle for slower traffic, allowing Maia to get a run on him. The two went side by side for an entire lap before Maia took the spot for keeps. Maia motored into the lead, and in turn had his own set of lapped cars to contend with, but had better luck than Gonzalez and was able to pass two lapped cars which Gonzalez didn't have the momentum to, insuring Maia a smooth ride to the checkered flag, and his second win of the season.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. 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.


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers David Wieringa , German Quiroga , Memo Rojas , Chris Baker , Burt Frisselle , Steve Welk , David Martinez , Antoine Bessette