(Lime Rock, Conn.) October 13, 2001 - Californian Landon Yee scored a decisive, breakout win from pole, his first of the season, in Round 9 of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. Warwick, New York's Dan Kraus and Floridian...
(Lime Rock, Conn.) October 13, 2001 - Californian Landon Yee scored a decisive, breakout win from pole, his first of the season, in Round 9 of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. Warwick, New York's Dan Kraus and Floridian Scott Presti joined Yee on the podium with their spirited drives, largely defense of position. The win leaps Yee up to third overall in the points structure and ends a four race win streak that championship leader Julio Campos enjoyed entering Lime Rock Park.
The majestic backdrop of the lower Berkshires added to the splendor around the National Championship race, which ran as a support event to the Busch Grand National North Burnham Boilers 200. Under clear blue skies, Yee set up from pole, a position he had earned only two hours earlier by withstanding the challenge of final qualifying efforts. When the green flag dropped, Yee and the entire inside of the grid had strong starts heading down the front straight towards turn-1. Presti, able to secure the second slot in front of P2 starter Dan Kraus, was committed to preventing Yee from building a comfortable margin. Yee then led Presti and Kraus around the 1.53-mile circuit over the first 18 laps without a position change. The latter two were waged in a riveting turf battle that engaged many of the first time spectators. Yee made the most of his clear track advantage and pulled out to a six- then 10-car lead, happily letting others tie themselves up with the battle for second place. Oakland's Leonardo Maia was also in the mix. The seventh place starter advanced to fourth midway through the race and carefully applied pressure on Kraus and later Presti. Maia, who set the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 57.531 sec., advanced as far forward as third but was later re-passed by Presti who seemed determined to land on the podium. Predictably, Campos and A.J. Allmendinger were never far from each other. The two started in positions 5 and 6 on the grid and quickly squared off, battling for the final top-5 spot. Allmendinger made the last charge stick as he upended the Brazilian on the front straight with two laps to go. Tophie Stewart, Tommy Contino and Burt Frisselle ran as a train for much of the contest and turned in one of the more competitive races within the race. Grant Maiman picked off the most positions of the field, bounding from a 12th start position to finish in eighth. Robbie Montinola and James Gue, newcomers to Lime Rock Park, warmed up to the circuit by significantly improving their lines, recording improved fastest laps over their qualifying efforts. Despite the charged atmosphere, intense competition and wheel-to-wheel action, the field ran a clean race with no incidents or moments of pause.
Presti, fifth in points entering the weekend, knows a strong finish to the season may land him a shot at the Barber-CART Big Scholarship Runoff.
"It was an exciting race," said the Floridian. "There were a number of passes and re-passes. But I'm really pleased with my podium result. I hope to continue strong over the next four rounds and finish in the top-8 for a chance at the Pro Series seat."
Kraus, who nabs his second podium in the National Championship, is pleased with the consistency he has shown both in qualifying and races.
"The race went well," said the understated Kraus. "I was very happy with my qualifying effort. Being able to start outside pole. I tried to get to the inside as soon as I could for what I thought would be better grip. I slotted in fourth and slowly had to pick up positions. But Landon was really in charge. Presti made a mistake in turn-2 of Big Bend and I was able to capitalize. I caught a great run in the downhill to pass him in the straight and maintain second."
The weekend couldn't have gone any better for Yee. The patient Californian was poised, in control and deserving of his first National Championship win.
"I had a good start and was able to pull away from Scott," said Yee. "I really tried to be consistent, stay smooth and not make any mistakes. Scott made a slight error in turn-1 and I was able to open up a slight gap. I was aware of the battle going on for P2 and it allowed me to stretch out my lead even further."
The victory, coupled with Yee's success at Laguna Seca [site of Rounds 10 and 11], is a shot in the arm to the affable Yee's confidence.
"I feel good heading to Laguna. I was there earlier this year and I scored two victories in Skip Barber Race Series regional competition. So I know I can drive well and hopefully, I'll win another National Championship race."