(Monterey, Calif.) November 17, 2001 - A.J. Allmendinger wrestled the point from polesitter Robbie Montinola before the first turn and never looked back, motoring to his first-ever Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER magazine ...
(Monterey, Calif.) November 17, 2001 - A.J. Allmendinger wrestled the point from polesitter Robbie Montinola before the first turn and never looked back, motoring to his first-ever Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER magazine victory at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. Championship leader Julio Campos was the only one of the 19 pilots to challenge Allmendinger, following the Californian around the 11-turn circuit for 16 of the 17 laps, eventually falling in line for second place. Dan Di Leo picked up third place honors to round out the podium.
Allmendinger never put a wheel wrong, confidently leading all laps and keeping any threat to his victory behind him. While the result affords him a smile, Campos' second place ensures that his points gain is minimal.
Montinola was relegated to third by lap 2 and he remained behind Campos for most of the contest, checking his mirrors and doing everything he could to fend off a hard charging Dan Di Leo. But the Canadian proved too strong for him. Di Leo, in his second year of the National Championship, successfully executed a daring pass on turn 2 of lap 12 to take third position, a spot he would maintain until the checkered flag.
Although the race was delayed due to fog, the hazy weather only seemed to sharpen Allmendinger's game. The Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner won his first National Championship race just as he planned, by driving a near perfect race.
"My first win is more a relief than anything. It was exciting. I felt I drove as good a race as I could. More importantly, the win helps me in the points. [Allmendinger picks up four points on championship leader Julio Campos.]
"I saw Julio in my mirrors the whole race but I knew I had about a second on him," said Allmendinger. "I felt great. My R/T 2000 was strong so I'll only make some modest adjustments for tomorrow. I'm starting from pole so hopefully I can do the same and gain even more ground on Campos."
Montinola's strong race and fourth place finish, his best in Formula Dodge National Championship competition, allows him to enter tomorrow's round with greater confidence. Oakland native Leonardo Maia finished fifth while resilient Scott Presti sixth. Landon Yee, winner of Lime Rock Park Round 9 turned in a seventh place result. Wisconsin's Grant Maiman picked off five positions, the most of any driver, to finish eighth. Juan Manuel Polar and Burt Frissell rounded out the top-10 in ninth and tenth, respectively.