Chip Bryant claimed the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship this weekend at Lime Rock Park, Conn. in a shoot out with his main rival and season-long nemesis, Akihira Okamoto. The two had battled for the series lead throughout the year and...
Chip Bryant claimed the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship this weekend at Lime Rock Park, Conn. in a shoot out with his main rival and season-long nemesis, Akihira Okamoto. The two had battled for the series lead throughout the year and were tied midway through the season. Bryant started pulling away in short increments but never shook Okamoto off his draft, entering the championship weekend with a slight 11-point margin. Okamoto, a talented and consistent prospect, ended his season in second place. Mikel Miller, a late season challenger, finishes third in the championship.
Christian Szymczak started things off with a win in group 1, race 1, leaping from a poor start position to take the lead for good midway through the race. He never relinquished the spot, seizing the checkered flag ahead of David Elden (2nd) and Jonathan Strohm (3rd). Strohm, the pole sitter, had led early but suffered from car contact with Dan DiLeo that caused him to lose the position.
In group 2, race 1, Chip Bryant clinched the championship with his victory, after starting from the second spot. Master's leader and newly crowned champion, Chris Willcox came home in second place. David Kaemmer would finish third. Tim Traver was the most progressive driver, finishing fourth after starting from 12th on the grid.
Nick Jones took the win in group 3, race 1. Jones secured the point on lap 2 and made it stick. John Brice ran a strong race, advancing from ninth to finish in second place ahead of Paul Marchese, in third. Dana Martin was best of the rest, leaping the field in bounds to score fourth after a start from the rear of the pack.
Akihira Okamoto won group 4, race 1, underscoring a resilient season in which he refused to back off. Mike Marino and Len Forman engaged in a heated battle for second place before Marino settled in for good on lap 17, leaving Forman behind him in third place. Paul Zube drove a strong race, seemingly uncontested and finished fifth after a 12th position start.
Group 5, race 1 saw Robert Grien earn his first series victory surviving a contact-marred contest. From fifth on the grid, Grien moved up to second position by the second lap and then patiently waited for his opportunity to jump the lead with five laps to go. Michael Murphy and John Stickler finished second and third, respectively.
On the second day of racing, polesitter Christian Szymczak scored his second win in as many tries in flag-to-flag fashion. Szymczak completed a perfect weekend to end the season on a high note. Dan DiLeo took second place and Jonathan Strohm third. Tom Nastasi raced on a tear, leaping 10 spots to finish fourth after back of field placement at the start.
Mikel Miller locked up third place in the championship with a win in group 2, race 2. Miller's result is all the more remarkable for two reasons; his start position [10th on the grid] and his competition; Chip Bryant and Akihira Okamoto. Bryant, looking to complete a 2-for-2 weekend, finished in second. Okamoto, the polesitter, was looking to end the season with a win. He would have to settle for a third place result.
John Brice scored his first victory of the season in group 3, race 2. Mark Patterson and Dana Martin followed in second and third, respectively. Unbeknownst to Brice, his win would start a trend.
Dave Figurski followed with his first win in the series in group 4, race 2. Spare a thought for Jim Mevay, who led most of the contest before going 4-off with only two laps to go and taking himself out of the running. Figurski nabbed the lead and then fought off R.J. Smith and Bill Telesco to the checkered flag. Smith and Telesco would finish second and third, respectively.
Matthew Koskinen was also a first time winner, taking the victory in group 5, race 2. He became the third of three consecutive first time winners. Koskinen, starting from 9th, made his move midway through the race, then wrestled the lead from polesitter and then-leader Robert Grien. Grien would go on to a second-place result. John Stickler would follow in third.
In the Master Memorial, Len Forman won the session in front of Roland Isra, in second and Chris Willcox in third. The Memorial was an exclusive opportunity for yearlong Master's rivals to match up head to head without the hindrance of younger, pesky racers. Todd Russo, second place in the Master's Championship tally had an uncharacteristic miscue, finding the wall on lap 10 and missing the balance of the session.
- Andrew Torres