SBRS: Championship is shaping up

Who may be the next to follow in the footsteps of Bryan Herta, Kenny Brack or Jeff Simmons? Those three Barber Dodge Pro Series champions have gone on to experience success at the Champ Car and Indy Lights level. As round seven of the 12-round...

Who may be the next to follow in the footsteps of Bryan Herta, Kenny Brack or Jeff Simmons? Those three Barber Dodge Pro Series champions have gone on to experience success at the Champ Car and Indy Lights level. As round seven of the 12-round championship approaches, the title chase for 2000 and the $300,000 Career Enhancement Award has become a three-driver race.

Following his third win of the season and fourth of his career, American Jon Fogarty has begun to edge away from his nearest rivals, Nilton Rossoni of Brazil and Dutchman Sepp Koster. Fogarty now enjoys a 26-point advantage over Rossoni and a further three points on Koster. Round eight at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. on Aug 18-20 presents the next opportunity for the title hopefuls to make or break their title bid.

Rossoni currently holds the Barber Dodge track record for both pole and fastest race lap. He finished last year’s race in sixth, but not before dueling with eventual race winner Jeff Simmons for the lead. Koster secured a solid top-10 result at Road America in ’99 while Fogarty overcame a rough patch in qualifying to come from 15th on the grid to a fourth-place finish, passing the most cars in the race. It all goes to show that each will be formidable in the quest to be the best of the Barber Dodge Pro Series field.

While the Fogarty, Rossoni and Koster have emerged as the likely title protagonists, those behind can not yet be discounted. Fourth overall, Matt Plumb has been in the hunt all season long, and if not for an unfortunate accident in the opening laps of round 4, he might well have made the aforementioned trio a foursome. Rookies Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andy Lally are in search of their first win and have been knocking at the door all season long. Roger Yasukawa has been quiet and consistent all year and could stealthfully steal a win, while Jamie Menninga need only convert his qualifying speed into race winning form. Ninth-placed Michael Valiante had a stellar drive last year at Road America as he battled fiercely with Simmons for the win finishing a scant 0.268 sec. away from his first win. He will be looking to avenge that defeat as will Thed Bjork who suffered the cruel misfortune of auto racing when a mechanical glitch robbed him of certain victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in round seven.

Testing for round eight at Road America took place today as most of the drivers took part in the two session pre-event test. Warm, dry weather was replaced overnight with cold wet rain that soaked the track for most of the day. With dry weather expected for the balance of the weekend, today’s test was of little value other than for track reconnaissance.

Nilton Rossoni, the current Barber Dodge qualifying track record holder, was quickest at 2:47.201 sec around the monster four-mile road course. Roger Yasukawa was second quick at 2:48.310 sec., and was followed by Michael Valiante, Andre Nicastro and Matt Plumb.

Qualifying begins Friday at 12:55 p.m. CDT with the race scheduled for Sunday at 3:40 p.m. CDT immediately after the CART FedEx Motorola 200.

- George Tamayo

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Andy Lally , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Roger Yasukawa , Nilton Rossoni , Sepp Koster , Jeff Simmons , Matt Plumb