(Kershaw, South Carolina) August 25, 2002 - Grant Maiman converted one pole position and two wins at Carolina Motorsports Park, including his fourth consecutive victory, into the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by ...
(Kershaw, South Carolina) August 25, 2002 - Grant Maiman converted one pole position and two wins at Carolina Motorsports Park, including his fourth consecutive victory, into the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. By sweeping both rounds for the second consecutive series, the New London, Wisconsin native clinched the driver's title with one race remaining in the 13-round championship. Maiman, in his second year in the series, earns a scholarship to contest the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series.
ROUND 12 - Maiman's determination to clinch the championship trumped Scott Speed's pole advantage and a gritty effort by challenger Scott Poirier. The second-year driver outlasted both to earn the win over Poirier and third place finisher Robbie Montinola, all three landing on the podium for the second consecutive day.
Poirier needed the win to deny Maiman the crown and make the following Lime Rock Park round meaningful as the determiner. Speed led from pole for the first four laps before yielding to Colin Fleming for two. Fleming and Maiman then shared the lead mid-race, volleying the point until Poirier took charge on lap 10. Poirier and Maiman led the 19-car field around the track under the intense South Carolina sun. The match-up of two of the best young racers in the country had all the drama of a desert showdown.
When Poirier slid wide out of turn-8, Maiman seized the opportunity to pass for the lead. Three laps and an estimated seven-miles of track now separated Maiman from the title. And he wasn't about to make it easy for Poirier. Although hounded aggressively, Maiman finished with three mistake-free trips to lead Poirier to the stripe by 0.472 sec. The win and the championship secure as the helmet on his head.
Other standouts in the field deserve mention. Steve Welk, who has endured his share of tough luck this season, tripped his best result, a seventh place finish from 10th position. Jason Klein promoted himself for the second consecutive day, picking up six spots to land in 11th. Jordan Gore also continued to show impressive form. The newcomer picked off 10 positions to improve upon his 19th place start position. Jason Richardson, rebounded from the previous day's bad luck, to finish eighth. And young Brian Frisselle completed a successful National Championship debut with his 13th place result.
What a difference a few rounds make. Robbie Montinola, who endured a mediocre first half to the season, is picking up momentum at a crucial time on the race calendar. A strong finish to his second year campaign puts him in strong contention for an invitation to the Scholarship Shootout.
"I didn't have a good start but I was able to make up what I lost and able to catch the back of the field because they were battling a lot. I had a really good car and the track felt good. So I was really comfortable. A few people made some mistakes so I was able to get by them."
"The strong weekend allows me to feel good heading into Lime Rock. I'm hoping to capture my first Formula Dodge National Championship in the finale."
Maiman was gracious in celebrating his successful 2002 season.
"It still hasn't sunk in. My plan all along was to make sure I was driving the wheels off the car. I didn't really want to race Scott Poirier one-on-one. He's way fast and I just tried to use my head to beat him and minimize mistakes." He continued, "Now we can move on to Lime Rock with, perhaps, a little less pressure. I've taken this season very seriously and I expect Round 13 will be more fun. Although I'm still going to race competitively."
Looking beyond Lime Rock, Maiman knows his 2003 campaign will require another strong plan. "I've been speaking with a few potential sponsors about the Barber Dodge Pro Series. And I'll try to do as much testing as possible this fall and winter so I'm less of a rookie next year.
Although Poirier fell short of upsetting Maiman, his rookie season has to be viewed as a phenomenal success. His points tally confirmed him as runner-up in the series.
"The weekend turned out to be strong with two podiums. It started off a bit slow, learning the track and dealing with the intense heat. But coming into today and starting fourth, I was confident I had a car that could do it. Late in the race I had a gap on Grant, but I made a little mistake and he caught me up and ended up getting by me. A big congratulations to Grant on the championship. He did an awesome job. And I also want to thank the Skip Barber and CART organizations for an awesome series. The National championship is incredible. Being able to be a part of this, representing them is an honor."