SBRS: Laguna Seca: Round one report

Maiman Captures Maiden FDNC Victory Second year driver Grant Maiman captured his first ever Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER victory in the series opener at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, leading 16 of 17 laps ...

Maiman Captures Maiden FDNC Victory

Second year driver Grant Maiman captured his first ever Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER victory in the series opener at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, leading 16 of 17 laps and holding off a determined charge from aptly named Scott Speed and polesitter Burt Frisselle. Maiman, who also stood on the podium in last year's opener at Sebring, made the most of a Frisselle miscue heading into the corkscrew to wrestle the point on lap 2 and then pull out a slight lead over the two Californians. Later, the trio ran tightly, particularly late in the race when a debris flag made the outcome questionable. Speed reeled Maiman in as Frisselle stayed close. On the white flag lap with both racers trying to set up Maiman, Speed attempted a daring high pass in turn 2 only to be rebuffed by the Wisconsin native, who appears increasingly confident as a sophomore in the series.

Racers haling from California and the Formula Dodge Western Regional Series were notably quicker than those that had made the cross-country flight. San Clemente's Justin Blower claimed fourth place honors just a step faster than fifth place finisher Al Unser. The two staged a brilliant offensive, clean and incident free. Robbie Montinola, usually strong at this track, led a train of positions six through ten before being upset by fleet newcomer Jason Richardson, who picked up the sixth spot on lap 12 and made it stick. Montinola, the leader of the Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship, went on to finish seventh. 2002 National Championship Runoff winner Scott Poirier was ninth, sandwiched between Colin Fleming and Charlie Kimball, who fared best among the four Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winners, claiming eighth and tenth place results, respectively.

Frisselle's pole and podium result are his first ever in National Championship play.

"We're off to a strong start. Qualifying went very well this morning. My goal was just not to overdrive the car, and to put some good laps together. We were really successful in our efforts to land pole." He went on."By the race, I fully intended was go keep it really clean and not get into any trouble. That worked well. I had a problem in turn-6 and Grant made a great move in the corkscrew to get my position. Unfortunately things didn't turn out exactly how I had planned but third place is still great and I'm pleased to have a podium beneath me in the first race."

CART Stars of Tomorrow Award Winner Scott Speed proved a quick study among the deep and talented set. The former karting champion systematically analyzed race lines and driver's rhythm to form a strategy for advancement.

"I knew I had a good third place car," said Speed."I was going to try to hold back and salvage out a third place finish but after the race started, I felt the car had more. I learned some useful information from the other guy's line and realized I had a pretty fast set-up. Consequently, I was able to pass and challenge for the lead."

Maiman, now the early season points leader, had his own strategy.

"I wanted to work with Scott and Burt. We decided run together and knew that if we kept everything nice and tight, we'd have a strong shot at a podium result. On the second lap, coming off 6 into the corkscrew, I was able to get by Burt. And later Scott got around him and those two diced back and forth, which allowed me to pull away. Unfortunately, I got caught out by the debris flag and hung up on some gravel, which dropped my right front tire. From that point on, those guys were on my tail, and I was just fighting to stay in front, hoping for that checkered flag."

Success aside, Maiman benefits from a new approach as a returning driver.

"I'm definitely more confident this year, knowing how things work, the operations and personnel in the series. There's less anxiety and a definite comfort level. You can learn so much from this group of guys. In addition to getting quicker, I'm focused on minimizing mistakes. The competition is so intense. You have to run clean, run hard and run fast."

-sbr-

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Al Unser Sr. , Scott Speed , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Charlie Kimball , Skip Barber , Grant Maiman , Jason Richards , Robbie Montinola