SBRS: Lime Rock Park National Championship preview

Formula Dodge National Championship Preps For Lime Rock Park Hoping to polish their race resumes and one day race professionally, twenty drivers head into the homestretch of the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER this ...

Formula Dodge National Championship Preps For Lime Rock Park

Hoping to polish their race resumes and one day race professionally, twenty drivers head into the homestretch of the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER this weekend at Lime Rock Park. Now in its second year, the National Championship candle burns brighter due to an off-season move that resulted in its designation as the Official Amateur National Championship of CART.

This year's National Championship field includes six returning drivers, four Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winners and some of the fastest, young talent in the world. Back for a second season are Dan DiLeo, Leonard Maia, Juan Manuel Polar, Scott Presti, Tophie Stewart and Landon Yee. The Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winners, A.J. Allmendinger, Tommy Contino, James Gue and Ben Moore, represent the four most deserving karters selected in the Barber-CART Karting Scholarship Runoff. Each earned a fully funded season to contest the Formula Dodge National Championship, a cumulative value package worth more than $160,000.

Additionally, 10 new racers have chosen to elevate their skills against a benchmark of experienced drivers. In fact, six different countries are represented among this year's drivers, adding to the multi-national appeal of the series. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, racer representatives hale from Peru, Venezuela, Brazil and Japan.

The premise of the 13-round series is to contribute to the health and prosperity of American open-wheel racing with driver development at its core. Grouping these talented racers fosters competition and ultimately raises each driver's game. The young pilots use identically prepared Formula Dodge R/T 2000 race cars, run with wings, slicks and a five-speed sequential gearbox.

While the focus among competitors is the Formula Dodge National Championship Barber-CART Scholarship, a fully funded season to contest the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series, opportunities abound elsewhere. Racers that complete the championship in positions two-through-eight automatically qualify to participate in a three-day run-off using the Reynard-Dodge 98E racecar. These drivers are evaluated in both on and off track activities such as multiple track and interview sessions. The winner of this run-off receives the Barber-CART Big Scholarship, a second fully-funded season in the subsequent Barber Dodge Pro Series.

Among the competitors to watch this weekend are current points leader Julio Campos of Brazil, who put together back-to-back wins from pole two times this season and currently enjoys a streak of four consecutive victories. Trailing Campos in the standings is Californian A.J. Allmendinger. Remarkably, Allmendinger is only in his first season racing cars. The former karting champion has been in contention since Round 1 and only recently had his record of five consecutive podiums interrupted. Both Campos and Allmendinger contested last weekend's Eastern Regional series finale, splitting their two races with a win each.

Returning driver Dan Di Leo also bears close watching. The Markham, Ontario native registered his first Skip Barber Race Series win in Round 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park and enters Lime Rock Park third in points. Landon Yee and Scott Presti, also second year drivers, have been models of consistency and round out the top-five to date in fourth and fifth place. But as quickly as conditions change on track, things change in the standings. For this reason alone, the balance of the season is promising and invites close scrutiny.

- Barber-

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers James Gue , Julio Campos , Skip Barber , Juan Manuel Polar