Davy Cook won his first pole of the season in Saturday's qualifying session and went one better in the race to take his first ever Barber Dodge Pro Series victory at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. Cook was followed across the line by Julio...
Davy Cook won his first pole of the season in Saturday's qualifying session and went one better in the race to take his first ever Barber Dodge Pro Series victory at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. Cook was followed across the line by Julio Campos in second place and Marc Breuers in third. Series points leader A.J. Allmendinger stormed his way into fourth place after falling down early in the race to 11th place, while Laguna Seca winner Rafael Sperafico finished fifth. Leo Maia finished sixth after he fell back in the pack on the start to 16th, while Danica Patrick matched her Toronto race result with a seventh place finish. Piero Rodarte came home eighht, with Memo Rojas finishing ninth. Josh Rehm kept his impressive run of top-ten finishes alive even though he had to pit for repairs after contact on the first lap. The race featured battles from the front to the back on the wide 2.106-mile track but ended under yellow after Rhonda Trammel and Jon Vannini, who was on his way to his strongest finish of the season, tangled in turn-9.
Cook was confident heading into the race, owing to his own performance in the car in qualifying, and to his high comfort level with his set-up. The win moves him into second place with Breuers in the title race, 39 points behind Allmendinger.
"I am just so happy; the car was perfect again, and the Barber Dodge guys did a great job getting my car ready. I wasn't sure what was going to happen after Josh got by me but I just kept my head down and stayed behind him until I had a good opportunity to pass," remarked Cook who drives the No. 16 motorsport.com Dodge Reynard. "The competition is so tight in this series, and you have to have a perfect weekend to get a win, and fortunately, that happened here. I am looking forward to getting to Vancouver now that I know I can do it. I need to get some more wins to break into A.J.'s points lead."
Campos, who took the pole position at the Portland round of the Barber Dodge Pro Series, was happy to get the podium finish and really satisfied about the points he earned.
"I am very happy with this result, since I have not really been able to get any real points in the last three races," said Campos, the 2001 Formula Dodge National Champion. "I was catching Cook in the end, but I am not sure that I would have been able to get by him. I am really just glad I leave Cleveland with some points and I am looking forward to getting to Vancouver to get some more."
Breuers started on the outside pole in his No. 94 Sunoco Special Dodge Reynard, but got caught in traffic on the first lap and found himself fighting from seventh place to get back to the front.
"I had some misfortune at the start, but I was glad to get on to the podium by the end," said Breuers. "I was catching Julio, who was catching Davy, so its too bad we ended under yellow. Being able to move the car back up to the front of the pack was very encouraging, and we got a little closer to A.J. in the points, so it was a pretty good weekend overall."
At the start of the race, Cook brought the field to the green from pole position, but found himself following Josh Beaulieu at the exit of turn one after Beaulieu made a strong inside move under braking for the big first turn, a hard 170-degree right hander which has set the stage for carnage on several occasions on the start, although the Barber Dodge field made it through almost perfectly, with only series returnee Atticus Misner as the victim. Contact from behind gave him a flat tire and sent him spinning, bringing out a full course yellow.
On the restart, Cook tried to get the top spot back by passing on the outside of Beaulieu going into turn one, but didn't have the space and tucked back in to follow Beaulieu. Behind them, Julio Campos got by Szymczak for third place and Allmendinger tried to follow Campos through, but Szymczak held the inside line as the two battled side by side for the position.
On lap four, Szymczak, who was running in fourth place, spun in the short shute between turns eight and nine, sending Allmendinger into the grass to avoid his spinning car. Allmendinger recovered and re-entered the fray back in 11th place.
Patrick and Rhonda Trammel battled for the seventh spot, with Patrick settling it with an inside pass in turn one. Cook continued to pressure Beaulieu and made his bid for the lead using the braking zone for turn one to make an inside move on Beaulieu, but the Canadian refused to yield, making Cook run wheel to wheel with him before finally yielding the position on the entry of turn three. Cook took the point and ran, building up a gap of 1.5 seconds on his first lap in the lead and then extending that gap up to more than three seconds by the 20th lap with Campos holding station in third position.
Further back in the field, Allmendinger began his charge back up the order by passing Memo Rojas for 10th. Meanwhile, Patrick had reeled in Piero Rodarte and took the seventh position in turn nine. Rodarte soon found himself behind Allmendinger after he made a strong outside pass going into turn three.
Up front, Campos reeled Beaulieu in and took the second position as Beaulieu was slowed owing to a bent front wing. Allmendinger continued his charge and passed Patrick for seventh place and then passed a slowing Beaulieu for sixth. At this point, there was a five-second gap to fifth place, but Allmendinger continued to charge, setting the outright track record for Barber Dodge with a lap of 1:13.729 on his way to closing in on Breuers.
By the halfway point of the race, the order was Cook, Campos, Breuers, Sperafico, Allmendinger, who took the forth spot from Sperafico on lap 20. Szymczak was also on a run, passing Patrick on the 17th lap for sixth position and then Beaulieu a couple of laps later for fifth before ending his run with a spin on lap 22.
Leo Maia, who fell back to 16th position from his sixth starting spot on the start after getting blocked in traffic,had worked his way back up to 12th by the 10th lap. Maia continued his own run to the front, getting by Rodarte in turn five for the eight spot before passing Patrick for sixth place.
"I tried to get by her going into turn one, but she was strong and I couldn't make it stick until I had the better line going into turn three," said Maia, winner of the Barber-CART Big Scholarship.
Lap 26 saw contact in turn 9 between Rhonda Trammell and Jon Vannini, who was on his way to a season-best ninth place finish, which brought out a full course yellow. The two cars were buried deep enough in the tire barriers to slow the clean up enough to have the race finish under yellow.