DETROIT (Aug. 8) - Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. found his luck in the best possible place Sunday morning in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Tenneco Automotive Detroit Grand Prix. Snyder found it on the track, under a waving checkered ...
DETROIT (Aug. 8) - Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. found his luck in the best possible place Sunday morning in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Tenneco Automotive Detroit Grand Prix. Snyder found it on the track, under a waving checkered flag.
Snyder, a three-time winner and runner-up in the 1998 championship, notched his first victory of the season under threatening skies on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Belle Isle temporary street circuit. Iradj Alexander of Giubiasco, Switzerland followed Snyder home for second, while Jamie Menninga of Pella, Iowa had a career-best third-place finish.
The action was furious from the start as the rain that had doused Saturday's final qualifying session retreated. Despite heavy cloud cover, a dry track and a number of drivers who looked to immediately improve their qualifying positions were ready for the start of Round 7.
"We started the season hoping to win the championship and we've had some bad luck," said Snyder, who started on the outside of the front row. "We've just got to keep plugging away at it. Last year was a very good season for us and slightly better for Simmons, but we needed luck and so far we had not had it. It seems like it's turned around and hopefully it will continue."
Snyder caught a break early when he drove away from a bump with pole sitter Jeff Simmons, which knocked Simmons out of the race.
"It was two-by-two all the way through (Turn) 1 and (Turn) 2 and I was hanging out on the outside starting as we started to go into (Turn) 2, the left hander, and he just went ahead and turned on in," Snyder said. "Obviously, he didn't see me and we had a slight touch. From there, full course yellow and two restarts and I just tried to time it as well as I could."
Sepp Koster of the Netherlands moved in behind Snyder on the restart and gave chase before ninth-place starter Nilton Rossoni, who motored through the field and set the fastest race lap (1:33.026/90.788 mph), overtook him on lap six. Koster slotted into third and kept on Rossoni until lap 13, when a clipped curb loosened an oil fitting on Rossoni's motor. Koster brushed the wall after hitting fluid and slowed, which left Alexander to challenge Snyder on a restart.
"I went to a special setup with my French engineer before the race and it took six or seven laps to get some grip," said Alexander, who had his second podium appearance in a three-race span. "I tried to attack Snyder (on the restart with eight minutes remaining), but it was not possible because I made a mistake. After that, I (was satisfied with) second."
When Snyder and Alexander put distance on the remainder of the field, a five-car battle started for Koster's third place standing. Menninga, younger brother of Indy Lights rookie Chris Menninga, emerged from the pack and gave chase to Alexander before the second-year driver settled for his first career podium finish.
"That's what happens when you finish a race with your wings still on the car," Menninga laughed, in an allusion to his own bad luck streak. "I just kept it cool and it happened." Brian Pelke of Lansing, Ill. nipped Koster at the line for a career-best fourth, which forced Koster to settle for fifth. Roger Yasukawa, Matt Plumb, Peter Boss, Juan Jose Font and Alexander Sperafico completed the Top 10. Sperafico collected the Progressive Custom Wheels "Most Progressive Driver" $500 bonus for his charge from a 23rd-place grid spot. Despite the DNF, Simmons' pole bonus point extended his lead over Rossoni to 12 points in the battle for the championship. Townsend Bell maintained his third-place standing 17 points back. Koster closed to within three points of Bell. Snyder jumped into seventh overall with the win, just one point behind Boss. The Barber Dodge Pro Series returns to action for Round 8 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex Sunday, August 15.
NOTES: Craig McCarty, father of Detroit Red Wings star Darren McCarty, served as Barber Dodge Pro Series Grand Marshall for the race. McCarty and his son started the McCarty Cancer Foundation after being diagnosed with cancer in 1995. Jeff Morton of Detroit, who finished 21st, drove the race as part of a fund-raising effort for the foundation.
David Francis Jr. of Cypress, Calif., who finished 17th in his 1999 Barber Dodge debut, was announced as the first selection for the CART FedEx Championship Series African-American Driver Development Program by CART chairman Andrew Craig. Francis will receive a CART-sponsored Toyota Atlantic test with Arciero-Wells racing.
Another local driver, Aaron Bambach of Clawson, Mich., placed 15th and registered a championship point in his first appearance of the season.
DETROIT - Results Sunday from the 40-minute timed Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Tenneco Automotive Detroit Grand Prix on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Belle Isle street circuit with finishing position, starting position, driver, hometown or country, laps, reason out (if any), and prize money. All cars are identical Reynard Dodge V6, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin racing tires.
1 (2) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass., 90.677 mph, 23, $12000 2 (4) Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco, Switzerland, 23, $8000 3 (10) Jamie Menninga/Pella, iowa, 23, $6000 4 (13) Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill., 23, $4000 5 (3) Sepp Koster/Hemskeerk, Netherlands, 23, $2500 6 (15) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif., 23, $2000 7 (14) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Penn., 23, $1800 8 (8) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I., 23, $1700 9 (16) Juan Jose Font/Caracas, Venezuela, 23, $1600 10 (23) Alexandre Sperafico/ToledoParana, Brazil, 23, $2000 11 (17) Brent Sherman/Northbrook, Ill., 23, $$1400 12 (19) R.B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn., 23, $1300 13 (18) Kip Gulseth, Manitowac, Wisc., 23, $1200 14 (22) Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wisc., 23, $1100 15 (20) Aaron Bambach/Clawson, Mich., 23, $1000 16 (11) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif., 23, $500 17 (21) David Francis Jr./Cypress, Calif., 23, $500 18 (8) Michael Valiante/Vancouver, Canada, 14, $500, Contact 19 (7) Memo Rojas Jr./Mexico City, Mexico, 14, $500, Contact 20 (9) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil, 13, $500, Mechanical 21 (24) Jeff Morton/Detroit, Mich., 12, $500, Contact 22 (5) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif., 3, $500, Contact 23 (12) Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paulo, Brazil, 3, $500, Contact 24 (1) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn., 0, $500, Contact
LENGTH OF RACE: 23 Laps of 2.346 Mile Circuit for 53.958 miles TIME OF RACE: 41 Minutes, 01.965 seconds AVERAGE SPEED: 78.900 NEW RECORD MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.220 Seconds LAP LEADERS: Todd Snyder - All Laps FASTEST RACE LAP: Nilton Rossoni 1:33.026 (90.788 mph) Lap 9 FASTEST QUALIFIER: Jeff Simmons 1:33.354 (90.469 mph) PROGRESSIVE CUSTOM WHEELS MOST PROGRESSIVE DRIVER: Alex Sperafico From 23rd to 10th TOTAL PAYOUT: $52,100
Points: 1) Simmons, 83 2) Rossoni, 71 3) Bell, 66 4) Koster, 63 5) Moran, 61 6) Boss, 59 7) Snyder, 58 8) Menninga, 44 9) Plumb, 42 10) Fogarty, 40