Portland round five race notes

Maia perfect in Portland. PORTLAND, OR (June 22, 2003)-Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, delivered a flawless performance in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Portland International Raceway on Sunday, leading from flag to flag to take his...

Maia perfect in Portland.

PORTLAND, OR (June 22, 2003)-Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, delivered a flawless performance in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Portland International Raceway on Sunday, leading from flag to flag to take his third win of the season. The win caps off an outstanding weekend for the second year Barber Dodge driver, as he extended his lead in the championship over Memo Rojas by scoring twenty three points with twenty for the win, two for qualifying, and one for carding the fastest race lap, which also set a new track record. The twenty-three point result is the first ever for any driver since the Pro Series began rewarding a point for fastest lap in 2002.

Round two race winner David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico finished second to Maia by just 1.8 seconds after starting the race in fifth position as Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver Colin Fleming of North Hills, California, finished in third.

Round four race winner Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, Canada finished in fourth, with German Quiroga scoring a season-best finish of fifth. Burt Frisselle, who was knocked out of contention on the first lap in last weeks race, finished in sixth behind Nelson Philippe, who held off a race-long charge from Al Unser. The eighth place finish is Unser's best of his rookie season to date. Luis Pelayo of Mexico City, Mexico finished in ninth place, with Robbie Montinola also scoring his best finish of the season in tenth.

Leo Maia, who made it look easy as he was unheeded at the front, was overjoyed with his win and the weekend overall after putting some significant ground on the rest of the championship contenders with his result.

"This was a great weekend for me. At the start, I didn't even want to look back, I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could," said Maia. "Towards the middle of the race, I had a pretty good gap to David, but then he started catching me a bit, so I bumped it up again in the late stages of the race. This is my second time to race here in Portland, and it's a great track. Its really a big rhythm track, and even though I was running alone, its got so much variety in the track that it kept me busy the whole race."

Despite not racing in the first race of the season, David Martinez moved into third position in the points with his second place finish and is looking forward to racing in Cleveland, where he has previous experience in the Barber Dodge car. Martinez had an excellent start to the race when he emerged in second place after starting in fifth.

"I don't know exactly what happened at the start," said Martinez. "Memo spun, and I saw Dan and Colin there, and so I want around on the outside, and got through the corner. From there, I just tried to catch Leo, but he ran a really good race. Even when I pushed really hard, I could only catch a tenth or so on him, so I just kept trying to keep my laps consistent and get to the finish and get the points."

Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver Colin Fleming joined the podium festivities for the first time in his young Barber Dodge career with his best finish of his rookie season.

"It was pretty uneventful race once I got through the start," said Fleming. "We hadn't run in the dry all weekend, so it was interesting to get to do that. I ran alone for most of the race, but Di Leo started to catch me in the end, after I kind of overheated my tires trying to catch David, but I kept the gap to get to the finish and on the podium."

The forty minute race provided plenty of action for the Portland fans, with an exciting start and battles for position all over the track. The first race start saw the field line up neatly in rows of two on the backstretch before moving toward the start finish line, where starter Doug Hill brought out the yellow flag, indicating no start, after Memo Rojas had fallen behind Maia before they crossed the start line.

"I was glad we didn't start the first time by, since Memo had timed the start well, and was right behind me at the line in my slipstream, and he probably would have been able to pass me," said Maia.

The field took one lap and reformed to try the start again, and with all the rows in order, the green flag flew. The field stormed into the tight Festival chicane, which has been the scene of several first-lap incidents in the past. History proved to repeat itself, as Fleming made light contact with Rojas in the heavy braking zone, and the young Mexican spun at the apex of the first corner. The field slowed to avoid Rojas, but not everyone went through unscathed. Rojas ended up the worst, suffering extensive front wing damage when Chris Green was unable to avoid making contact. Several drivers elected to avoid the melee by taking the escape route around the corner, and rejoined the field.

Maia had been in perfect position to avoid the melee, and motored out of the corner with his lead intact. Martinez had taken the far inside line, and made up significant ground, moving from his fifth starting position into second place, with Colin Fleming coming through in third. German Quiroga of Mexico City, Mexico, also had a strong start through the Festival corner to emerge in fourth ahead of Dan Di Leo.

Rojas and Green were forced to pit for repairs as the field returned to begin lap three. Burt Frisselle set off in chase of Di Leo for fifth place, with Nelson Philippe heading Al Unser in eighth. Maia put his head down to put in some fast laps and build up a gap to Martinez. Maia grew his lead lap by lap to give himself a three second cushion by the mid point of the race.

The lead threesome of Maia, Martinez, and Fleming, grew a gap over the three-way battle for fourth, as Quiroga, Di Leo, and Frisselle disputed the position. Behind this gap, a battle was going on for seventh place, as rookie Al Unser stalked Nelson Philippe around the 1.969-mile circuit.

Di Leo closed the gap to Quiroga, and made a clean move to take fourth as the two entered the heavy braking zone for the Festival chicanes. Frisselle then took up the battle with Quiroga as Di Leo developed a one second gap back to the battle for fifth.

Another three-way dispute raged further behind, as rookie racer Robbie Montinola, coming off his best finish in Barber Dodge competition last weekend with an eleventh place finish in Laguna Seca, battled with Ben Freudenberg and Scott Poirier for tenth. Poirier, who suffered wing damage in the opening lap start, trailed Freudenberg, who was acclimating him self quickly in just his first Barber Dodge Pro Series start. Freudenberg hassled Montinola all the way around the circuit, staying close behind, but Montinola was consistent in getting a strong launch out of the final corner, which allowed him to keep the distance to Freudenberg so he couldn't pass in the Festival chicane. Freudenberg then drew himself into Proiriers draft, and passed him as the two went into the Festival chicane, only to be repassed at the exit of the corner.

Meanwhile, the Unser/Philippe battle raged on, with Unser taking a look at the inside of Philipe each lap as the two entered the Festival chicane. Unser repeatedly had enough pace to draw alongside of Philippe, but couldn't complete the pass. On the next lap, Unser tried the same move, and locked up the brakes, but Philippe again had just enough to hold him off. Two laps later, Unser again looked to make the pass work, and had a strong run on Philippe as the two exited the Festival chicane, and Unser drew up alongside of Philippe, this time as the two entered turn four. Again, Philippe was able held him off and keep the position.

The battle between Freudenberg and Poirier had allowed Montinola to draw away, but the contest took on a different look once again when Poirier, suffering from a bent wing from the race start, went off course as he tried to make a move on Freudenberg. The off-course run proved to be the end of the race for Poirier.

Up front, the order remained static with Maia holding onto a comfortable lead over Martinez and Fleming giving chase in third. The leaders were all given a brief scare as they began to notice rain on their visors. But the precipitation was just momentary, and the session remained dry, the first dry session of the entire race weekend.

Maia cruised to the finish to take his third win of the season, with Philippe just edging out Unser in their battle for seventh. Unser gave Philippe a thumbs-up on the cool off lap after the two had raced each other hard but clean all race. Chris Baker finished in sixteenth place after taking just one race lap with handling problems.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series will race next at Burke Lakefront Airport on the weekend of July 4th at the US Bank presents the Cleveland Grand Prix in support of the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series. Full results and story to be posted at www.skipbarber.com.

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.

Skip Barber Racing School is the world's leading provider of automotive education and entertainment. With five base locations in Connecticut, Florida, California, and Wisconsin, Skip Barber operates at over twenty tracks nationwide. The Dodge Division of DaimlerChrysler, Michelin North America, and Quaker State are key strategic partners for the company. NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Indianapolis 500 Champion and Champ Car Champion Juan Montoya, and legend Michael Andretti are but three graduates to have emerged from Skip Barber Racing's nearly thirty years of training and expertise.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , German Quiroga , Memo Rojas , Leonardo Maia , Chris Baker , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , David Martinez , Chris Green , Luis Pelayo , Nelson Philippe , Doug Hill , Robbie Montinola