Series to make Toronto debut

Title Race Opens Up; Dileo To Make Professional Debut The Barber Dodge Pro Series will make its Molson Indy Toronto debut supporting the CART FedEx Series when it rolls in to town this weekend. Native son Daniel Dileo of Markham, Ont. will make...

Title Race Opens Up; Dileo To Make Professional Debut

The Barber Dodge Pro Series will make its Molson Indy Toronto debut supporting the CART FedEx Series when it rolls in to town this weekend. Native son Daniel Dileo of Markham, Ont. will make his professional racing debut as well. The 19 year-old Canadian currently lies third in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER, the Official Amateur National Championship of CART. The series is the steppingstone to the Barber Dodge Pro Series and a National Championship title would automatically garner Dileo a Barber-CART Scholarship to the 2002 Pro Series. While Dileo concentrates on his professional race debut, drivers like Nicolas Rondet, Roger Yasukawa, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Matt Plumb, Sepp Koster and the balance of the Top-10 will continue to wrestle for the coveted $300,000 Career Enhancement Award that goes to the Series champion.

A slim 15 points separate those five drivers and as Plumb and Koster have demonstrated in the last three rounds, a good swing of fortune for any of the 22 drivers who have accrued points this year could put them right into contention. Plumb, third overall after the last round in Cleveland less than fortnight ago had nary a point to his name after the first two rounds. But a point streak that included a win, a pole, a fastest race lap and two second-place finishes has seen him leap through the standings. Similarly, Koster, the only two-time race winner in 2001(Lime Rock Park, Cleveland) has seen his season go from the doldrums to title contention as he resides fifth overall.

While Plumb and Koster have seen a season of highs and lows, points leader Rondet and current runner-up Yasukawa have been steadily garnering points. Rondet has one win to his credit while Yasukawa has a pair of podium finishes. Both are among only a handful of drivers that have scored points in every round this year. The others include Marc Breuers, who is coming off a career best third place, Peter Boss and rookie Akihira Okamoto.

The 1.775-mile, 11-turn temporary road circuit may be the great equalizer this weekend in a series where parity of equipment requiring driver talent to be the determiner is already the name of the game. As an added incentive, Toronto represents the first leg in the Conseco Triple Crown along with round 8 supporting the Target Grand Prix of Chicago and the final round in support of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey. If one driver can capture the win at all three events, a check from Conseco Risk Management to the tune of $20,000 will be cut in their name.

-George Tamayo

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Peter Boss , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Roger Yasukawa , Sepp Koster , Skip Barber , Matt Plumb , Akihira Okamoto