(Mount Meridian, Ind.) May 11, 2002 - Grant Maiman executed a daring but intelligent pass late in Round 6 to claim the point en route to his second victory of the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER season over...
(Mount Meridian, Ind.) May 11, 2002 - Grant Maiman executed a daring but intelligent pass late in Round 6 to claim the point en route to his second victory of the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER season over Scott Speed and Luis Pelayo. The New London, Wisconsin native capped a strong weekend in which he secured 36 of a possible 42 points to make inroads on new championship leader Speed. Only Speed had a stronger weekend, collecting 38 points for his two days of work.
The CART Stars of Tomorrow Award winner led the early laps, having checked out from pole and leading Pelayo and Maiman around the 1.77-mile road course over the first five circuits. Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner Craig Baltzer was also in the mix, looking to maximize his best start position ever. Baltzer unfortunately got tangled up with Jonatan Jorge in turn-1 and lost nine positions, falling out of contention. Speed yielded the point to Pelayo mid-race and the Mexican set the pace for the first time this season. But a miscue by Pelayo allowed Speed to capitalize and regain the lead.
The third position, of course, had the best view of the dicing. Maiman sat patiently in third and waited for his opportunity. Preserving his tires as best possible, he saved enough rubber to facilitate a strong charge when he needed one. When Speed and Pelayo broke late into turn-1, the pair slid wide and gave Maiman enough room at the apex to squeeze by. The move surprised them but Pelayo recovered quickly and slotted in to deny Speed P2. The three drivers then ran as a train with 3 laps to go, Maiman running out the clock for his second win of the season and his first since the series opener at Laguna Seca.
Al Unser, who crashed out of Round 5 in dramatic fashion, was back in race form and charged through the field from 15th to finish in fourth. Unser also established a new track record with a time of 1:15.115 sec., eclipsing Speed's mark of 1:15.420 sec. Burt Frisselle, who relinquished the series points lead to Speed in Round 5, advanced to fourth before a bent wing relegated him to a fifth place result. National Championship Runoff Winner Scott Poirier came home sixth ahead of Jonatan Jorge and Herdez driver Aurelio Lopez. Robbie Montinola and Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner Ward Imrie round out the top-10.
Third place finisher Pelayo is confident he can build upon the success of his first top-3 result.
"I believe I'm off to a good start. This is my first podium in my third National Championship race. I'm happy with how things are going, getting more comfortable in the R/T 2000. I led about half the race and that was new for me. I expect to lead even more races and be on the podium again. I'd like to thank my sponsors Escuderia Telmex, Quaker State, Tecate, Canel's and LNB for the opportunity to contest this series."
Speed reflected on a successful trip to Indiana, one that saw him enter in pursuit but leave as the championship leader.
"It was a great weekend for me. It was very tight at the end with Luis and me. I made a mistake that cost me the lead and perhaps the race but I'm happy to finish second." Speed continued and looked ahead, "I hear good things about the IRP circuit [next up on the National Championship schedule]. I hear it's a gutsy track and that suits me fine."
Today's win puts more championship points onto Maiman's ledger, allowing him to keep pace with his emerging series rival, Scott Speed.
"I have to look at these results in terms of the entire series and not just race-to-race. Round 6 is only one of 13. But with every race, there is opportunity to learn. I'm particularly pleased that I continue to evolve in the National Championship. Today was an example of using patience to my advantage. A year ago, I may have not seen that opening."