(LOUDON, N.H.) June 3, 2000 -If ever anyone thought that the inaugural Formula Dodge National Championship Season would not turn itself on its head at every step of the way, that someone would be wise to reconsider. Begin with the qualifying ...
(LOUDON, N.H.) June 3, 2000 -If ever anyone thought that the inaugural Formula Dodge National Championship Season would not turn itself on its head at every step of the way, that someone would be wise to reconsider. Begin with the qualifying results for the first race that saw all of the contenders at rounds one and two conspicuously absent from the top of the time sheets at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. All but Bryan Sellers that is. Yet even he was shut out of the front row with a third starting position.
As in Grattan, the field of 27 drivers was split into two groups. Each group races twice during the weekend for rounds three and four of the 13-round Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER.
The pole honor for race 1 for Group 1 in the National Championship went to Los Angelino Damian Della-Santina. Della Santina, who had a pole at Round 2 in Grattan, but struggled somewhat during that race, had no such struggle today.
Della-Santina took control from the drop of the green flag, while Sellers slotted into second place, immediately gaining one position. Meanwhile outside front row starter Tophie Stewart didn't quite make the start he had intended and found himself several places down the order by the end of the first lap. With Della-Santina checking out, Sellers was having his mirrors full of Canadian Anthony Simone, who eventually takes second place away form Sellers.
"This was more pressure than I could imagine, said the victorious Della-Santina. "Once I was in the lead I just had to be calm and knock down smooth and consistent laps."
The order among the first three looked set until the unfortunate Simone makes contact with the wall allowing Sellers back into the second spot. Before it was all over, an epic battle for the final podium spot ends with Christian Szymczak and Brian Angen tangling and removing both from contention. This allows Ryan Howe, who managed to avoid the coming together into third. Before its all over he was able to get into Sellers mirrors, yet was unable to actually get around.
"My row was able to get a good jump and I think that surprised Tophie (Stewart starting second)," recalled Sellers. "Damian set a very strong early pace (with some very good laps)."
"Once I was able to chase Bryan," reflected Howe, "all I could do was wait for something to happen, we were evenly matched around the track. I am really looking forward to tomorrow."
The second group of National Championship contenders saw three new faces on the podium with Brazilian Caio Travaglini taking the victory ahead of Davy Cook and Jonathan Strohm.
Turn three of the Loudon track that takes the racers off of the oval and onto the road course was the scene of a several pile-ups during the opening lap that eliminated pole sitter Jon Morley as well as Juan Manuel Polar and Levi Simoes and involved others who were able to escape with minor damage. Once the smoke and dust had settled Travaglini, a Barber Dodge Pro Series 'Big Scholarship' invitee in 1999, was left to take a lonely lead and eventually victory.
"I was side by side with Davy (Cook) heading into turn-3 and I just stayed on the inside and luckily I was not hit," reflected Travaglini. "Then, I drove as fast as I could and tried not to make mistakes."
Behind Travaglini, onlookers were entertained by a marvelous duel for second place between Cook and Strohm who swapped the positions numerous times before finally settling on an order.
"Caio and I were side by side, but once we made it through turn-3 he was able to get away," said Cook of the start. "After dropping back I just calmed down and tried to make as few mistakes as possible. It wasn't easy though. Jonathan held the inside, and I over-slowed the corner then re-passed Jon heading up the hill"
Strohm was pleased to have survived the turn-3 melee and come away with a very positive result.
"I just ran the outside, saw a lot of tire smoke, and was fortunate to drive through," he said. "I don't have the most experience so I just wanted to be consistent and concentrate on my footwork."
The two groups will line it up at NHIS tomorrow and do it all over again. Will the order change yet once more?
Results Round 3, Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER, New Hampshire International Speedway, June 3, 2000.
<pre> Group One
1/Damien Della-Santina/Los Angles,Calif. 2/Bryan Sellers/Centerville, Ohio 3/Ryan Howe/ Temecula, Ca. 4/Daniel Di Leo/Markham, Ontario 5/Brian Angen/Campbell, Calif. 6/Michael Rossi/ Murrieta,Calif 7/Tophie Stewart/Carmichael, Calif. 8/Kevin Christiensen/Castaic, Calif. 9/Todd Russo/ 10/Ryan Jones/Maple Ridge, British Colombia 11/Jim McCabe/Luzern, Pa. 12/Dan Schmalshof/Adair, Ill. 13/Anthony Simone/Aurora, Ontario 14/Christian Szymczak/Oakland, Calif
1/Caio Travaglini/Miami, Fla. 2/Davy Cook/Tallahassee, Fla 3/Jonathon Strohm/Wildwood, Mo. 4/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif. 5/Craig Duerson/St. Petersburg, Fla. 6/Brian Rivera/Miami Lakes, Fla. 7/Scott Presti/Naples, Fla. 8/Chris Baker/Austin, Tex. 9/JJ Fischer/Tyler, Tex. 10/Brian Cole/Dumfries,Va. 11/Levi Simoes/Brazil 12/Juan Manuel Polar/Sannisidro, Peru 13/Jon Morley/Colombus, Ohio