SBRS: Grattan:Formula Dodge National Championship Round 1

(GRATTAN, Mich.) May 20, 2000 -Bryan Sellers of Centerville, Ohio took the checkered flag and in doing so kicked off the inaugural season in the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. Sellers led Canadian Anthony Simone across...

(GRATTAN, Mich.) May 20, 2000 -Bryan Sellers of Centerville, Ohio took the checkered flag and in doing so kicked off the inaugural season in the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. Sellers led Canadian Anthony Simone across the line by just over one second, with Californian Landon Yee in third.

The National Championship field was spilt into two groups of 13 and 14 respectively for the opening two rounds taking place at Grattan. The second groups race was very tight highlighting the level of competition in this championship series.

"You could throw a blanket over the Top-10," was how Chief Steward Terry Earwood described it.

Craig Duerson of St. Petersburg, Fla took the hard-earned victory ahead of a fast moving Tophie Stewart of Carmichael, Calif. and Brian Rivera of Miami Lakes, Fla. in third.

Sellers, 17, started the race on the front row alongside pole-sitter Simone and led across the line at the end of the first lap only to surrender the lead the following lap. The race was temporarily halted to repair a guardrail when Chris Baker made contact at the end of the first lap. Baker emerged unhurt. On the front straight as the Formula Dodge R/T 2000 racecars sat idle, Sellers took time to think over the scenario that lost him his lead. At the restart, Simone led, but was unable to shake Sellers. On lap eight, Sellers out-braked Simone into turn 1, and never looked back.

"Today was a good day," said Sellers afterwards. "Simone ran me hard. I knew it was going to be tough from the start. We have 28 other unbelievably good drivers, so I think it was as tough as everybody expected."

"Anthony went by me into turn 1, and I just tried to stay patient and see where he was faster than me, and fortunately I was able to pick up on where he was beating me and I was able to get back by him," added Sellers.

Simone, 20, started the weekend off on the right foot, having garnered the pole for round 1 despite having only one day of lapping under his belt. Simone, a Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Winner, is making his first ever auto racing start.

"It felt really good for the first race," said Simone of Aurora, Ontario. "We were both braking pretty deep going into the corners, so there was no way I could get around him.

Yee in third-place made up one spot over his starting position. Making his pass on then third-placed Dan Di Leo early in the race, Yee was left alone for the balance of the race securing valuable points to start off the season. Yee, like Simone, made his auto racing debut at this weekend of Grattan.

"I was still trying my best to catch Simone and Sellers," said the 19-year old Yee of his lonely drive in third. "At the same time I was still checking my mirrors, and I saw Jon Morely catching up, and at that point I was pushing as fast as I could."

Back to the second group, Duerson and Rivera had a titanic battle in the early going as the two traded the lead on the same lap on more than one occasion. In the end a slight mistake was all it took for Rivera to fall from first to fourth in a matter of seconds. Duerson capitalized to take the lead, which he would hold onto for the duration. He had to hold on tight however as second through fourth were never far behind.

"Brian and I passed each other then re-passed several times; he bobbled a little bit and so I went through, and then just kept my head down," recalled Duerson. "The key for tomorrow is to make fewer mistakes. This field is so deep that that's all it takes."

Rivera echoed Duerson's thoughts on the depth of the talent within the field, and how making a small mistake can cost one dearly.

"You can't make a mistake with these guys, the field is so close, that's all it takes is one mistake and three cars are by" said Rivera.

"I am happy with the way I came back," said Rivera of the mistake he made that relegated him to fourth. "I settled down and put my head down and was able to catch up. I felt like I was able to catch up to the top-two guys and just ran out of laps."

Stewart was the man on the move, having moved up to second from his eighth starting position by making insightful moves and no mistakes. Stewart almost threw it away in the opening laps having come in to turn five a little bit too hot. He recovered, though narrowly making contact with another car. Undeterred, he continued slicing threw the field until he ran out of laps.

"I wasn't really faster than anyone out there, I just made fewer mistakes," elaborated Stewart. "By not making any errors, you can put yourself in the front."

<pre> Results from Round 1 of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER, Grattan Raceway, Grattan, Mich.

Group 1

1/Bryan Sellers/Centerville, Ohio 2/Anthony Simone/Aurora, Ontario 3/Landaon Yee/San Rafael, Ca. 4/Jon Morely/Columbus, Ohio 5/Daniel Di Leo/Markham, Ontario 6/Davy Cook/Tallahasse, Fla. 7/Brian Angen/Campbell, Ca. 8/Michael Rossi/Murrieta, Ca. 9/Jim McCabe/Luzerne, Pa. 10/Chris Wilcox/Naucapan de Jua, Mexico 11/Brian Cole/Dumfires, Va. 12/Ryan Jones/Maple Ridge, British Colombia 13/Chris Baker/Austin, Tex.

Group 2

1/Craig Duerson/St. Petersburg, Fla. 2/Tophie Stewart/Carmichael, Ca. 3/Brian Rivera/Miami Lakes, Fla. 4/Caio Travaglini/Miami, Fla 5/Christain Szymack/Oakland, Ca. 6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Ca. 7/Damian Della-Santina/Los Angeles, Ca 8/Scott Presti/Naples, Fla 9/Juan Manuel Polar/Sannisidro, Peru 10/Ryan Howe/Temecula, Ca. 11/Jonathan Strohm/Wildwood, Mo. 12/J.J. Fischer/Tyler, Tex. 13/Dan Schmalshof/Adair, Ill. 14/Kevin Christensen/Castaic, Ca.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers J.J. Fischer , Davy Cook , Leonardo Maia , Chris Baker , Skip Barber , Craig Duerson , Bryan Sellers , Chris Wilcox , Juan Manuel Polar , Anthony Simone , Michael Rossi