Moran Posts First Barber Dodge Victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring SEBRING, Fla. (March 20) - Rocky Moran Jr. was not going to be satisfied with earning his first career pole position. He also wanted a win. Moran, of Coto de Caza, Calif., ...
Moran Posts First Barber Dodge Victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring SEBRING, Fla. (March 20) - Rocky Moran Jr. was not going to be satisfied with earning his first career pole position.
He also wanted a win.
Moran, of Coto de Caza, Calif., squeezed past defending series champion Jeff Simmons on a third-lap restart, then drove away from the field for a 6.6-second margin of victory in Round 1 of the 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series at the 12 Hours of Sebring Saturday morning. It was the first career victory for the 19-year old Moran, the son of former Indy 500 driver Rocky Moran.
The younger Moran had finished second at Laguna Seca in 1997 and Watkins Glen in 1996, but that first win had proved elusive.
"It's been long awaited - there have been many close calls - but it seemed like this weekend, I had a car that was so good I could just put the power down out of the corners," said an elated Moran. "Everything just went my way. On the restart, I got a jump on Jeff and was able to get by him in (Turn 1). After that, I was able to put my head down and just go."
Nilton Rossoni of Curitiba, Brazil finished behind Moran, while rookie Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C., Canada captured the third spot on the podium in his professional debut.
Moran pulled even with Simmons, who had started third and took the lead in Turn 3 of the race, on the front straight when the starter threw the green flag to re-start after removing the contact-disabled car of Josh Rehm of Plymouth, Mass. He skirted the edge of the inside wall and nosed past Simmons into the wide left-handed first turn. After that, Moran was able to put some distance on a trailing pack of four cars as they jostled for position behind him.
"It was very, very narrow. I almost thought I wasn't going to make it because part of the inside wall pops out a little bit there," Moran said. "But I had enough room. It wasn't much."
Rossoni gave chase and emerged from a three-way duel with Simmons and Juan Jose Font of Caracas, Venezuela on lap nine of the 17 in the 40-minute timed race. The Brazilian tucked into second as Moran maintained a blistering pace that included a circuit of 2:07.024 at 104.862 mph on lap 13 which almost surpassed his record qualifying mark (2:07.016/104.869 mph) set the previous day.
The battle for the final podium spot extended to the end of the race. Valiante forced Simmons wide in turn 15 with just two laps remaining in the race, and swooped past in Turn 16. Valiante then fended off a challenge from fourth-place finisher Font which lasted to the start/finish line.
"I was trying to pressure him throughout the whole race and see if he made any mistakes," Valiante explained of his tussle with Simmons. "He got a little bit loose and I took advantage of that."
Simmons, of East Granby, Conn., finished fifth, with Sepp Koster of the Netherlands moving up from a 13th-place grid position to take sixth. Rookie Vanderlan Junior of Goiania, Brazil posted an impressive seventh-place finish in his North American debut, while Peter Boss of Narragansett, Rhode Island ended a Barber Dodge career-best eighth. Jamie Menninga of Pella, Iowa and Roger Yasukawa of Santa Monica, Calif. rounded out the top 10.
Victor Gonzalez of Hatoray, Puerto Rico earned the Progressive Custom Wheels "Most Progressive Driver" award of $500 with a 15th-place finish after starting in the 25th position.
SEBRING, Fla. - Results Saturday from the 40-minute Barber Dodge Pro Series race on the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road circuit at the 12 Hours of Sebring with finishing position, starting position, driver, hometown or country, laps, reason out (if any), and prize money. All cars are identical Reynard Dodge V6, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin racing tires.
1 (1) Rocky Moran, Jr./Coto de Caza, Calif., 104.862 mph, 17 laps, $12,000
2 (2) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil, 17, $8,000
3 (5) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada, 17, $6,000
4 (4) Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela, 17, $4,000
5 (3) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn., 17, $2,500
6 (13) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands, 17, $2,000
7 (10) Vanderlan Junior/Goiania, Brazil, 17, $1,800
8 (15) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I., 17, $1,700
9 (18) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa, 17, $1,600
10 (7) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif., 17, $1,500
11 (6) Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico, 17, $1,400
12 (8) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa., 17, $1,300
13 (20) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn., 17, $1,200
14 (21) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif., 17, $1,100
15 (25) Victor Gonzalez, Jr./Hatorey, PR, 17, $1,500
16 (17) Andre Grillo/Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, 17, $500
17 (23) Gregg Borland/Elkhart Lake, Wis., 17, $500
18 (24) Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill., 17, $500
19 (22) Tim Bergmeister/Bergheim,Germany, 17, $500
20 (28) Diego Fernando Mejia/Bogota,Colombia, 17, $500
21 (19) John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada, 17, $500
22 (27) Jarrett Boon/Phoenix, Ariz., 17, $500
23 (26) Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill., 17, $500
24 (29) Charles Willis/Germantown, Tenn., 17, $500
25 (16) Eric Tresslar/Denver, Colo., 17, $500
26 (30) Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wis., 17, $500
27 (12) Iradj Alexander/Switzerland, 13, $500, Contact
28 (14) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass., 12, $500, Contact
29 (9) Josh Rehm/ Plymouth, Mass., 0, $500, Contact
30 (11) Townsend Bell/Los Altos Hills, Calif., 0, $500, Driveline
31 (31) Giovanni Anapoli/Vicenza, Italy, DNS
LENGTH OF RACE: 17 Laps of 3.7 Mile Circuit for 62.900 miles
TIME OF RACE: 40 Minutes, 43.835 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 92.657 mph NEW RECORD
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0 Minutes 6.617 Seconds
LAP LEADERS: Rocky Moran Jr. - Lap 4 through 17; Jeff Simmons - Laps 1-3
FASTEST RACE LAP: Rocky Moran Jr. 2:07.024 (104.862 mph) Lap 13 NEW RECORD
FASTEST QUALIFIER: Rocky Moran, Jr. 2:07.016 (104.869 mph)NEW RECORD
PROGRESSIVE CUSTOM WHEELS "MOST PROGRESSIVE DRIVER" - Victor Gonzalez (Car 27) From 25th to 15th
TOTAL PAYOUT: $55,100
1999 Points: 1 Moran, 21 2 Rossoni, 16 3 Valiante, 14 4 Font, 12 5 Simmons, 11 6 Koster, 10 7 Vanderlan Junior, 9 8 Boss, 8 9 Menninga, 7 10 Yasukawa, 6 11 Rojas, 5 12 Plumb, 4 13 Stiewing, 3 14 Fogarty, 2 15 Gonzalez, 1