JRCS: Mesa Marin race report

Fonferko Takes First Triple Crown Event Bakersfield, CA - Ross Fonferko won the first race of the 2001 Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro Series presented by Yokohama at Mesa Marin Raceway. Starting from the pole and leading every lap of the 60 lap...

Fonferko Takes First Triple Crown Event

Bakersfield, CA - Ross Fonferko won the first race of the 2001 Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro Series presented by Yokohama at Mesa Marin Raceway. Starting from the pole and leading every lap of the 60 lap race, Fonferko a new comer to oval racing, used lap traffic to hold off passing attempts from Victor Hugo Queiroz and David Mayhew.


Ross Fonferko, center, celebrates his victory in the winner's circle at Mesa Marin. Second was David Mayhew, left, and third was Taylor Fletcher, right. Photo: Kjell Kallman

"I'm relieved to not have David in my mirrors anymore" said the 2000 Russell Rookie of the Year. "We were dicing though traffic and I made some wrong decisions, but it worked out." Fonferko received $1,500 for his first place finish and picked up an additional $200 for qualifying on the pole.

Queiroz shared the front row with Fonferko and applied the pressure in the early stages of the race but as the pair entered Turn 3 on lap 17 Queiroz spun bringing out the second yellow flag (the first was for debris in Turn 1 on lap 8). This allowed Mayhew and Bakersfield resident Cory Turner to move into second and third with Steve Hill and JoJo Saunders rounding out the top five.

For the next 21 circuits, Mayhew worked on Fonferko trying to use traffic to get around the leader. "At one point, I had a good exit coming off Turn 4 and took the high line going into (Turn) 1," said the 2000 STAART Scholarship winner. "Ross was low and coming up to lapped traffic, but just as we came out of Turn 2, the slower car came up to give Ross room to race and I had to back out of it".

Turner, also a STAART Scholarship driver and third overall in last year's Triple Crown, was separated from the leading duo by several lapped cars and racing with Taylor Fletcher. The two drivers and Hill battled each other for third until lap 46 when Kevin McCue and John Knudsen touched wheels going by Start/Finish bringing out the third and final caution flag. McCue's car had to be towed while Knudsen continued, the last car on the same lap as the leaders.

The track went green on lap 51 and Queiroz turned up the wick passing three cars to join the battle for third as Hill began dropping positions when his right rear tire started to loose air. On lap 56 Turner did a slow spin in Turn 1 when Fletcher went low to pass for third. Turner quickly recovered but lost a lap as the field came by before he could get rolling again.

The checker fell with Fonferko crossing the line first, Mayhew second, and Fletcher third. Queiroz picked up fourth and Saunders was fifth. Fonferko received two checks for his efforts; $1,500 for winning the race plus an additional $200 for the "fastest qualifier award."

Drivers are competing for a championship purse of $10,000 in cash and a two-race ride with Cape Motorsports in the final US F2000 event at Daytona on September 15 and 16. Speedvision will provide an in-car camera for both F2000 races.

The second round of the Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro Series will be during the Dodge SaveMart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Sears Point Raceway on Saturday, June 23. The third and final race is also at Sears Point during the Grand Prix of Sonoma with the ALMS series.

-USAC-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers John Knudsen , Steve Hill , Taylor Fletcher , David Mayhew