BUSCH: CHAMPCAR/CART: Skip Barber Grads Score

Skip Barber grads Joe Nemechek and Jeff Gordon polished-off wins at fearsome Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Both Nemechek and Gordon posted their wins from deep within the starting field. Nemechek entered Saturday's Busch Grand National...

Skip Barber grads Joe Nemechek and Jeff Gordon polished-off wins at fearsome Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Both Nemechek and Gordon posted their wins from deep within the starting field.

Nemechek entered Saturday's Busch Grand National Touchstone Energy 300 as a past winner and used savvy pitstop strategy to vault himself to the front of the field. In the final ten-lap sprint to the finish Nemechek found himself low and high, inside and out in his efforts to get to the front. In the end he went round the outside of several drivers, and once in front motored away with the breakaway group of six in his wake. Mike Borkowski, another Skip Barber alumnus finished tenth.

On Sunday's big show, the DieHard 500, Jeff Gordon earned his 50th Winston Cup win the hard when he played the role of the die hard and chopped his way through the field from the 36th spot on the grid. His final charge for the front came with five laps remaining. The typical Talladega scenario that sees cars running in two files around the wide-banked superspeedway was not in evidence on Sunday as the field broke into three columns with four and sometimes five cars abreast on the straights and onto the apron. Gordon soon discovered that the faster, if not scarier, column was the middle one, which he exploited to his advantage. In the lead with five laps remaining, he with withstood some bumping and jostling behind, to hold on for the victory.

Other Skip Barber trained drivers joining Gordon in the Top-10 were Jimmy Spencer in fifth, Kyle Petty in ninth and Ward Burton in tenth.

At the first CART FedEx road race of the season, Helio Castro-Neves in second and Bryan Herta in fifth were the top Skip Barber trained drivers at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Castro-Neves attempted a late race charge following a full course caution, and was able to dice his way through some slower traffic and ailing cars, before running out of laps as he honed in on the lead. Herta, the '91 Barber Pro Series champ, on loan from Forsythe Racing drove for Walker Racing in place of the injured Shinji Nakano. In spite of not having driven a Champ Car since before the start of the season, Herta turned in an impressive performance having qualified fifth and was then in the thick of the fight throughout the day on Sunday.

Long Beach was also the scene of the Dayton Indy Lights Series opener. A third of the field made up of former Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers, and leading the way was two-time defending Pro Series champ Jeff Simmons. Simmons just missed out on a podium finish as he brought his Team Kool Green racecar home fourth. Last year's only American winner on the Lights tour, Geoff Boss, finished eighth. Just behind in ninth was Tony Renna.

Skip Barber trained Paul Gentilozzi and Steve Pelke finished fourth and ninth respectively in the third round of the SCCA BF Goodrich Tires Trans-Am Series at Long Beach.

-George Tamayo

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About this article
Series IndyCar , NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY , Trans-Am
Drivers Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Kyle Petty , Joe Nemechek , Bryan Herta , Shinji Nakano , Paul Gentilozzi , Steve Pelke , Skip Barber , Tony Renna , Jeff Simmons , Geoff Boss