Portland: Round four race report

Portland: Round four race report
Jun 17, 2002, 3:13 PM

Allmendinger dominates Portland. (PORTLAND, Ore.) June 16, 2002- A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister, Calif. made it look easy once again, taking his third win in four races thus far in the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series season at the Portland ...

Allmendinger dominates Portland.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) June 16, 2002- A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister, Calif. made it look easy once again, taking his third win in four races thus far in the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series season at the Portland International Raceway. Rookie Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario finished a career-best second, with birthday boy Davy Cook from Tallahassee, Florida storming the field to take third place after starting from ninth position. Memo Rojas finished fourth in the Telmex machine while Laguna Seca race winner Rafael Sperafico took fifth place in his Dodge-liveried Reynard. Friday's provisional pole winner Marc Breuers finished sixth with Leo Maia crossing the line behind him and ahead of Josh Rehm and Piero Rodarte, with Aurelio Lopez, Jr. rounding out the Top-10.

The race provided lots of action right from the drop of the green flag. Polesitter Julio Campos led the field into the tight turn one known as the Festival Curves, but lost traction at the exit of the corner and spun off track to fall all the way back to 18th position as the rest of the field sped by. Christian Szymak tried to make a move in the first corner but made contact and was knocked off course, bringing out the full course yellow to retrieve his car.

The yellow flag bunched the field up behind Breuers' Sunoco Machine. On the restart, Breuers led the field across the line and tried in vain to hold off Allmendinger, who passed him in the braking zone for turn-1. Allmendinger never looked back, building his lead to 5 seconds.

"The first start was hectic. I had a good run going into the Festival corners and took it in pretty deep. Julio spun right in front of me right at the exit of the corner and I only barely missed him. Fortunately he spun to the inside and not in my way, so I was able to get by clean," recounted the race winner. "On the second restart, I just got a good run on Breuers and made it stick going into turn-1. I want to thank (Barber Dodge Pro Series Senior Driver coach) Barry Waddel for helping me with my set-up. We improved the car a lot from yesterday, and it really helped me out today. Now I just have to keep being consistent in the upcoming races and make sure I keep getting points and not let anyone into this points fight."

On the next lap, it was déjà vu all over again for Breuers as he defended his line aggressively against Di Leo, who made the same move on Breuers as Allmendinger had, to take the second position behind Allmendinger.

"Marc ran me really hard going into the festival corners," said Di Leo. "I knew I had to pass him early if I was going to have a chance to pass Allmendinger. Once I got next to him on the straight, I was fully committed to getting by him. I am happy to get my first podium in just my fifth start in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. I was hoping to have something to talk about when we got to Toronto, and now I certainly do."

Behind the fight for the lead, Davy Cook made a move on Rojas and Maia, getting by briefly only to lose momentum on the exit of the corner and be repassed by both. A few laps later, Rojas moved ahead of Breuers. Sperafico moved past Maia but couldn't get by Rojas on his way to fifth place. Meanwhile, Cook was able to pick his way up into 3rd for his second podium finish of the 2002 season.

"I had never been to this track, so that was part of why I didn't qualify that well for the race," said Cook. "My driving coach Mike Zimicki really helped to get me up to speed when it counted. Everyone around me worked perfectly from my driving coaches to my mechanics and crew. I also talked to Tommy Fogarty and he helped me out with some ideas about how to get around here quickly before the race, but Dan was just so consistent, I really couldn't find a way by but I am really happy with this result."

Polesitter Campos fell all the way back to 18th place on the first lap after his spin. After rejoining the field, Campos began to move up through the field like a man on a mission. He worked his way into the top ten by midway through the event and was in the midst of a fierce battle with Leo Maia, getting by Maia after Maia locked up his brakes going into turn one. Maia continued to pressure Campos as the two ran side-by-side along the backstretch. Campos was ahead of Maia as he entered turn-11 when he got sideways, clipping the dirt, causing him to clip the outside tire wall, knocking off his wheel and sending him backwards toward the outside pit wall, rolling the car and coming to a rest on the roll hoop. Fortunately, Campos was quickly out of the car with the help of the CART Simple Green Safety Team. The field was once again bunched up for the yellow, but time expired before the track could be cleared, sealing the victory for Allmendinger, who leaves Portland with a 33 point lead in the championship battle over Rafael Sperafico heading into Toronto.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series will race next at the Molson Indy race in support of the FexEx Championship Series on July 7th.


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