Skerlong, Kligerman and Rossi taste success at Buttonwillow Round 3 - Saturday 8th April 2000 Class Series leader and reigning Formula TR 1600 Champion Carl Skerlong checked out at the start of Round 3 and once again stamped his ...
Skerlong, Kligerman and Rossi taste success at Buttonwillow
Round 3 - Saturday 8th April
Series leader and reigning Formula TR 1600 Champion Carl Skerlong checked out at the start of Round 3 and once again stamped his authority on the 2000 class. Having claimed his third straight pole position, with a new lap record for a Formula Renault car at Buttonwillow with a 1m40.805s lap, he wrapped up a third consecutive flag-to-flag victory in the #14 Odyssey Motorsports charger.
The flow of the 30-minute race was interrupted almost from the start as a clash involving two of the 1600 Series runners brought out the first full- course caution of the day. Behind Skerlong, Derek DeBoer failed to capitalize from second place at the re-start and dropped back behind series rookie Dominic Scheer in the #77 Knudsen Racing entry as they sprinted to the first turn.
Skerlong then headed Scheer with Dustin Welch eventually moving up into third. Behind Welch a train of cars chased, hoping to steal the third and final podium position before the checkered flag. John Knudsen led the pack with Brett MacDonald, who later suffered a broken up-right on his car, and Derek DeBoer all running nose-to-tail. They held station until the penultimate lap when DeBoer, driving the #9 Welch Racing car, ran wide on the final turn approaching the start-finish straight and subsequently beached himself in a substantial mud puddle! A full-course caution followed with the race ending under the yellows, Bob Siska benefiting from DeBoer's error by moving up to sixth.
Parker Kligerman once again proved himself the man to beat in the 1600 class as he racked up his third straight win with another commanding performance. Mirroring his dominating start to the season in the first two rounds at the California Speedway last month, the Paladin Motorsports racer took the victory in Round 3 from pole to maintain his championship lead.
The action kicked off early with Tony Welch and Kerstin Smutney collecting each other at the first turn, bringing out an early full-course caution. Both drivers got going again and when the track went green Kligerman once again marched off into the distance. Alexander Rossi ensured his return to Formula TR 1600 competition with Odyssey Motorsports would be a successful one as he passed Liam Kenney to take second place - a position he held all the way to the checkered.
Kenney then found himself locked in a battle for several laps with Luis Martinez. As they raced each other around the 3.12-mile track Martinez eventually emerged victorious moving up into third spot. Behind the fight for the final podium spot, Tayler Malsam and Billy Goshen again had solid runs taking fifth and sixth place respectively. Smutney finished seventh, her progress hampered by the first turn collision. Tony Welch's bad luck continued as he parked out on track with two laps to go - his incident, combined with another beached car, bringing out another full-course caution to end the race under the yellows.
Round 3 Results 2000 Class: 1st Skerlong, 2nd Scheer, 3rd Welch, 4th Knudsen, 5th MacDonald, 6th Siska, 7th DeBoer
Round 3 Results 1600 Class: 1st Kligerman, 2nd Rossi, 3rd Martinez, 4th Kenney, 5th Malsam, 6th Goshen, 7th Smutney, 8th Grisdale, 9th Welch
Round 3 Quotes - 2000 Class
1st - Carl Skerlong: "It was great to qualify on pole with a new lap record. We hoped the track would stay consistent so we didn't really make too many changes before the race. I made a good start and built up a good lead but after about six laps we had a water temperature problem. Thankfully it held out to the end of the race and we took the victory."
2nd - Dominic Scheer: "My start was good, I held third and I almost jumped into first but I hit the rev-limiter in second gear so I couldn't do that. I got up into second later after the full course caution and it was all good from there, I took second at the flag."
3rd - Dustin Welch: "It was a good competitive race. The track started to get a little slick and the car started to go away on me so I had to keep hustling it to keep it on the circuit. I managed to hold third to the end to start the weekend with a podium finish."
Round 3 Quotes - 1600 Class
1st - Parker Kligerman: "We did really well here today. I got the jump at the start and did the same thing at the re-start following the caution. From there I just had to keep my focus and go with the conditions on the track. We're prepared to go for the win again tomorrow!"
2nd - Alexander Rossi: "We struggled a bit in qualifying so I ended up third. At the start I got up to second but Parker was able to pull out on us as we were having some brake issues. I lost a little bit of confidence but we were able to compete at the front and I'm happy to be back with second."
3rd - Luis Martinez: "This track is perfect for overtaking and I found myself passing for third, dropping back but being able to pass again to keep third place and take the podium finish. This is a fun, fast circuit! We might tweak the car a little but we've got a good set-up here."
Round 4 - Sunday 9th April
Carl Skerlong produced another weekend victory sweep, the teenager dominating race proceedings once again in the Formula TR 2000 Series. A brief challenge at the start line from John Knudsen in the #7 car was about as close as anyone came to preventing Skerlong from celebrating win number four of the season, his fourth straight victory from pole position.
While Knudsen couldn't quite take the fight to Skerlong this time he did his own championship aspirations no harm capturing his third runner-up spot of the year, keeping him directly behind his young title rival in the points battle. Knudsen's run to second was far from easy however as his own team-mate, Dominic Scheer, remained an almost permanent fixture in his wing mirrors throughout the 30-minute sprint at Buttonwillow.
Scheer capped his weekend off with a second successive podium finish, taking the third and final spot behind his Knudsen Racing team-owner! CT Motorsports' Brett MacDonald, in the #18 car, bounced back to take fourth at the flag, his team working feverishly to repair the broken up-right that thwarted his progress the day before. Dustin Welch, a podium finisher on Saturday, suffered a broken half-shaft at Turn 2 bringing out the only caution period of the race. Just two laps were left as the track returned to green but Skerlong remained untroubled to take the win.
Alexander Rossi picked up his first win in just his second Formula TR 1600 start as he drove a dogged race to depose Parker Kligerman from the top step of the podium for the first time this season. Kligerman looked set to take his fourth straight win with just a handful of laps remaining but Rossi's pace and determination allowed him to get the jump on the leader at the re-start following the race's solitary full-course caution.
At the start Kligerman took the lead from pole followed by Rossi and Luis Martinez, Rossi getting the jump on Liam Kenney in third. While Kligerman and Rossi headed the pack Martinez and Kenney found themselves fighting for track supremacy as they had done a day earlier at Buttonwillow. Unfortunately for Luis, a self-inflicted spin at Turn 1 allowed Kenney to pass for the final podium spot and he duly seized his opportunity.
Billy Goshen enjoyed his best run of the season taking fourth place ahead of Tayler Malsam, both racers demonstrating a points-paying consistency in their driving. Kerry Lynch participated on Sunday and took sixth with his Knudsen Racing entry. Kerstin Smutney mirrored her performance from Saturday afternoon's race, claiming seventh place once again in the #2 CT Motorsports car beating Tony Welch to the line. Cam Grisdale's opening race weekend was rounded off with ninth at the checkered.
Round 4 Results 2000 Class: 1st Skerlong, 2nd Knudsen, 3rd Scheer, 4th MacDonald, 5th DeBoer, 6th Welch, 7th Siska
Round 4 Results 1600 Class: 1st Rossi, 2nd Kligerman, 3rd Kenney, 4th Goshen, 5th Malsam, 6th Lynch, 7th Smutny, 8th Welch, 9th Grisdale, 10th Martinez Jr.
Round 4 Quotes - 2000 Class
1st - Carl Skerlong: "The race went really well today, I pulled out a big gap at the start and went from there. Our goal is to win the 2000 Championship having won the 1600 title last season. I know we're capable of doing it and this weekend's results certainly help."
2nd - John Knudsen: "A great day for the team! I didn't have anything for Carl, he was just too fast but overall the team did a great job. Dominic gave me a tough time from behind but I held on to second. I'm happy we got two cars on the podium here today."
3rd - Dominic Scheer: "Considering this is only my second race weekend I'm pretty happy to be back on the podium. I stayed with John for the first four laps but I messed up a little and lost some ground. I got back up to him but got caught up in some lapped traffic so John took off again. If I had one more lap I could have passed him but the checkered came out."
Round 4 Quotes - 1600 Class
1st - Alexander Rossi: "I was able to get up to second at the start but Parker pulled out a three second gap. I reeled him in and I hoped for a full-course caution and I got it! I took the lead at the re-start and kept it to the checkered. It's an awesome feeling to win!"
2nd - Parker Kligerman: "We could have done better! I had built up a good lead at the start of the race but at the re-start after the caution I fell back to second, Rossi just had a better jump. I dropped back following a slide but passed six cars to re-take second on the last lap. It wasn't a great afternoon, we didn't win but I still hold the lead in the championship."
3rd - Liam Kenney: "I'm very happy with another podium finish. The race went really well! It was a little disappointing that Luis spun as I was enjoying a good battle with him. I've now scored three podiums in four starts, not bad for my first season racing cars. The Formula Renault is a great car to drive, I'm really enjoying myself here."
Formula TR 2000 Points Standings after Round 4:
1st Carl Skerlong (144), 2nd John Knudsen (106), 3rd Dominic Scheer (98), 4th Dustin Welch (83), 5th Brett MacDonald (83), 6th Derek DeBoer (70), 7th Bob Siska (68), 8th Adam Davis (36)
Formula TR 1600 Points Standings after Round 4:
1st Parker Kligerman (140), 2nd Liam Kenney (103), 3rd Tayler Malsam (80), 4th Billy Goshen (78), 5th Kerstin Smutney (73), 6th Alexander Rossi (60), 7th Luis Martinez Jr. (60), 8th Kerry Lynch (60), 9th Dustin Welch (56), 10th Cam Grisdale (26)
Willow Springs Raceway hosts Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2006 Formula TR Pro Series next month, 6th-7th May.