(CLEVELAND, Ohio) July 1, 2000 -Nilton Rossoni has come to Cleveland and conquered it again. In 1998 as a rookie he scored the pole, but was knocked out on the first lap. Last year he won. This year, he put it all together; a pole followed by...
(CLEVELAND, Ohio) July 1, 2000 -Nilton Rossoni has come to Cleveland and conquered it again. In 1998 as a rookie he scored the pole, but was knocked out on the first lap. Last year he won. This year, he put it all together; a pole followed by a dominant win in Round six of the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. It seems the closest any of the other Barber Dodge competitors got to Rossoni was at the exit of turn-1. >From there he was a mirage. Leading every single lap, Rossoni took the checkered flag ahead of Sepp Koster and Jon Fogarty.
"From lap 1 all the way to the end, my car was really, really good. In the middle of the race, I backed off to save my tires in case there was a caution," Rossoni, 19 of Curitiba, Brazil driving the No. 36 Foster Group Barber Dodge Reynard said. "It wasn't easy though, not at all. I love this place, this city, this track; everything."
Koster began the race in fourth but was in third by the end of the first corner. Soon after he was on the tail of Fogarty who had also gained a spot at the start and found himself second. On lap 11, Koster ducked by Fogarty who realized that Koster was a man on the move and that there was no sense in holding him up. Had he, the two may have fallen into the clutches of the hard charging group behind. Figuring he had plenty of timed to catch Koster later, Fogarty settled in behind. Koster had other intentions, however, and set off to catch the distant Rossoni. The gap was narrowed to five seconds, but never closer and so Koster settled for the well-earned second place.
"I wasn't really happy with my fourth starting position, so I really decided to be really aggressive at the start. Jon went around the inside and I went on the outside of turn-1 and braked as late as I could and luckily I ended up behind Jon in third," Koster recounted. "It seemed to me that Jon was struggling a little bit in the beginning. Finally, I got a run on him out of turn-9 and I knew I was fast into turn-1, so again I braked late."
Fogarty never gave up. Rarely more than two seconds behind Koster, he felt his car getting better as the race progressed and made a last ditch effort to get by Koster that was not to be. In the process however, Fogarty established a new track record at 1:13.982 sec., which was good for 102.479 mph.
"With seven minutes to go in the race, I told my coach Mike Zimiki, 'I can do this'. I was starting to eat away at Sepp and my car was getting better. Time was running out and I knew I had to do something drastic, so I tried to go flat where I hadn't gone flat before, but I got a little bit wide at turn-7 and that let Sepp get a gap," Fogarty said.
The race for the $300,000 Career Enhancement Award that goes to the Barber Dodge Pro Series champion has now narrowed slightly. Fogarty remains in the lead; however, Koster and Rossoni have wittled away what was once a 25 point spread to see Rossoni take second place 22-points behind Fogarty with Koster another point in arrears.
Fourth through seventh places ran like a Swiss train around the Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport. Led by Thed Bjork in his best Barber Dodge finish, he was pursued by Roger Yaukawa in his best result of this season. Matt Plumb and Jamie Menninga played cat and mouse for a portion of the race before settling in. John McCaig continues to shine at Cleveland securing a solid run with an eighth-place finish. Rounding out the first ten were Ryan Hunter-Reay, who takes over the Rookie of the Year points lead and Michael Valiante.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series now takes a six week break before rejoining the CART FedEx trail at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course on August 13th.
The Cleveland race will be broadcast on ESPN 2 on July 21 at 6:30 p.m. EDT.
Points after Round 6 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series:
Fogarty, 96; Rossoni, 74; Koster, 73; Plumb, 56; Hunter-Reay, 51; Yasukawa, 50; Andy Lally, 49; Menninga, 43; Boss, 41; Valiante, 40; Bjork 39; Alexandre Sperafico, 36; Andre Nicastro 32; Brent Sherman, 25; Jonathan Macri 16.
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