Pressure Begins to Show in USAC Formula Russell It was gut-check time in the September rounds of the USAC Formula Russell Championship as three of the top four drivers had to face adversity. How they reacted to it effected their title hopes ...
Pressure Begins to Show in USAC Formula Russell
It was gut-check time in the September rounds of the USAC Formula Russell Championship as three of the top four drivers had to face adversity. How they reacted to it effected their title hopes directly.
Bruce Feldman was hindered by a very slow leak in a rear time that left him three seconds off of the pace, ninth on the A Group's Saturday grid. Yet he was able to work his way back to fourth at the checker, then win Sunday's A race to retake the lead that Steve Hill snatched from him in the July rounds. Feldman stands at 166 points, just one ahead of Hill.
With just three races out of 17 remaining on the year, it's crunch time, a concept Lorenzo Mandarino took too literally. In a thrilling race on Saturday with David Whitelaw he came up second best, then spun in Sunday's affair while leading. Despite dropping to tenth, he was able to storm up to second just after half-distance. But he pushed too hard trying to reel in Feldman in the lead, and he bounced off the wall and immediately into the underdog role.
Now 21 points out of first, Mardarino can sweep the last three events and either Feldman or Hill can still win the title if they finish on the podium from here on out. Whitelaw's elation over Saturday's victory lasted less than a lap on Sunday when an off-course excursion exiting the fast Turn 10 cost him nearly a lap and any points he hoped to earn. He has 128 points with Chuck Hulse fifth in the standings at 116.
Feldman is the leader in the Masters Division for drivers between 40 and 49 followed by Hulse. Third on the charts is Brazilian Fernando Dias Ribeiro at 106 who has been unable to race since May. Ribeiro is the brother of Grand Prix driver Alex Ribeiro who raced for the March Formula 1 team in the late '70s.
The scramble for the Grand Masters crown is a wild one with the top five drivers all within 11 points. On the strength of a win on Saturday, Ze'ev Drori is on top with 81 points. Stan Kohls and Jim Mustanich are tied for second at 78 points.
Points are scored as follows: 20 for a win, 15 for second, 12 for third, 10 for fourth, 8 for fifth, then 6,4,3,2, and 1 for positions six through ten.
The other race winners on the weekend were Joe Zammuto, Don Stewart, Steve Gerson, Yuki Ishida, Ethan Shippert, Dave Black, and Wayne Yurtin.
The overall 2003 USAC Formula Russell Champion will receive as part of his prize package two free races with a top team in the 2004 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship season opener at Sebring, Fla. Both the Masters and Grand Masters champions will receive all 20 races in the 2004 USAC Formula Russell Championship for free.
The next rounds of the USAC Formula Russell Championship will be October 18 and 19.