The first quarter of the season witnessed Nilton Rossoni getting a majority of the limelight. He scored wins at both Sebring and Homestead while Sepp Koster scored his first career win at round three in Nazareth. Jon Fogarty had been silently ...
The first quarter of the season witnessed Nilton Rossoni getting a majority of the limelight. He scored wins at both Sebring and Homestead while Sepp Koster scored his first career win at round three in Nazareth. Jon Fogarty had been silently accruing points, and in the next quarter of the season he tagged himself as the racer to beat.
Barber Dodge action resumed six weeks after round three in Nazareth, making the traditional Memorial Day stop at Lime Rock Park. Fogarty established the time to beat in the first qualifying session and it would stand the test. Thus it earned him his first career pole. From the drop of the green flag on race day, Fogarty kept the momentum rolling by jumping ahead of the field to establish a gap. Following an early caution period, he would do the same, seemingly stretching his lead at will. It was his second career victory, the first one since Mid-Ohio in 1998, and he would do it in commanding fashion netting a perfect 21 points. Andy Lally yet again found his way to the podium after a hard fought battle with eventual third place finisher Pete Boss and Ryan Hunter-Reay (4th).
Rejoining the CART trail at Detroit, round five took place on the always-exciting temporary circuit on Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. With the win at Lime Rock Park in his back pocket, the tide would turn in Fogarty's favor. Pole position once again went to Fogarty, a distinct advantage on the tight confines of the Raceway on Belle Isle. Twenty-three laps later he would take his second victory on the trot, once again leading every lap in the process. Midway through the race he had come under pressure from Jamie Menninga. However as Menninga became the hunted, Fogarty was able to ease away. In the meantime, Matt Plumb hounded Menninga into a bad judgement call on the back straight as the pair came up to lap traffic. Menninga, balked by the slower car, lost momentum thus allowing Plumb to make a bold pass in the back straight carousel. Menninga launched a counter attack but it was too little too late. He would finish third to Fogarty and Plumb.
Round six took place at the Burke-Lakefront Airport on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. Fogarty arrived with 25-point margin over Koster who was four points ahead of Rossoni. Rossoni however had won here before, and he was determined not to let Fogarty nor Koster get away. He struck first by snaring the pole. Victory came with near ease Saturday afternoon as he led unchallenged from the drop of the green flag. Koster vaulted to second place from the second row, and despite a charging drive was unable to erode Rossoni's advantage. Fogarty finished third pulling out all the stops in an effort to get around Koster including a bold move on the final corner that saw him go off the track to do a little lawn care. He kept control of the car and kept third place, and kept the title lead. Rossoni however now had him in his sights.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series would take its final break of the season before diving headlong into the final six race in eight week schedule. The series was still wide open, yet it was rapidly becoming both Fogarty and Rossoni's to lose.
Next, three winners in three races, but one was beginning to look like a champion.
- George Tamayo