Ten races, and only five winners; it was an anomaly at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Va. this last weekend but it hardly meant that it was a walkover for the five victors. The weekend was special for a number of reasons, namely it...
Ten races, and only five winners; it was an anomaly at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Va. this last weekend but it hardly meant that it was a walkover for the five victors.
The weekend was special for a number of reasons, namely it was the first race with the new Formula Dodge R/T 2000, which as previously written performed beyond all expectations with the credit going to the Skip Barber Racing crew for the exceptional work. Secondly, it was the first time that full qualifying sessions were employed to determine the grid for race 1 in each group. The grid for race 2 would be determined by the results of race 1 as before. Finally, it was the first time the Skip Barber Race Series has visited the resurrected VIR, and all were delighted by the challenge and beauty of the track.
In Group 1, Akihira Okamoto and Mikel Miller swapped the lead on a few occasions until Miller spun. That left Okamoto way out in the lead for the balance of the race. Chris Willcox came in second. He had a brief mid race battle with rookie Daniel Dileo. Dileo, a Skip Barber Karting Scholarship nominee making his first ever start in a racecar, had an eventful first race. While battling with Willcox, he slipped off of the track, and had to make the obligatory pit stop. Slipping to fourth place, he had an entertaining battle with Mark Cheek to earn the final podium spot.
Race 2 saw Okamoto and Dileo nose to tail for much of the race with Dileo leading briefly before Okamoto retook the lead with three laps remaining. Dileo, bettered his first race by finishing second with early leader Mikel Miller finishing third as he vaulted ahead of Willcox on the last lap. Willcox, fourth overall, was the Master's class winner in both races.
Group 2 was all Bryan Sellers. He won both races virtually unchallenged from the pole. Sellers was followed by Damian Della-Santina and Leonardo Maia in both races. The trio along with Dileo form Group 1 and Jim McCabe from Group 5 will be competing in the upcoming Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER. Maia had the most interesting race coming from ninth place to capture third in race 1. In race 2, Sellers established the standard for VIR by setting the fastest race lap of the weekend. Chris Otis took the Masters honors for both races in Group 2.
If Group 2 was all about Bryan Sellers, then the same can be said about Louis Dribrell in Group 3. The lowest place Dribrell found himself all weekend was second in qualifying. After that he led every lap of both races. Roland Isra and Randy Allison dueled for second place, which eventually went Isra. It was ditto for race 2, minus the Isra-Allison battle as they held station for the entire race. Dribrell, incidentally, can claim four victories on the weekend as he was the Master's winner in addition to being the overall winner in Group 3.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, if it was all about Sellers in Group 2 and all about Dribrell in Group 3, then it was all about Della-Santina in Group 4. Della-Santina led both races unabated from the pole. Della-Santina, a front-runner in the Western Series made the trip east from his Los Angeles home, so he ran a double to make it worth his while. Judging by the satisfied smile on Sunday afternoon, it was. The battle for second and third in race 1 was less straight forward. Second-place finisher Brian Kleeman and third-place finisher Joseph Calderone were involved in a fight for the podium that also included Dan Daniel in the early going. Kleeman leapt into second on the penultimate lap.
Daniel came back in race 2 from his ninth starting position to take second in race 2 ahead of Calderone in third. Daniel was on the move early having claimed second by the mid-point in the race.
Group 5 provided the most exciting battles of the weekend. Chip Bryant took his first and second career Skip Barber Race Series victories to finally get that monkey of his back. Bryant had to earn every ounce of his trophies as he and second-place finisher Toshinobu Shigemitsu were virtually side by side at least once a lap for much of each race. Bryant made the pass stick on the 14th lap of the first race and was able to only relax slightly in the last couple of laps. Race 2 was a nail biter all the way as Bryant pulled off a phenomenal pass around the outside of the last turn on the last lap to take a thrilling victory. Jim McCabe was third in his rookie start.
The Skip Barber Midwestern Series along with the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER kicks off on May 20-21 at Grattan Raceway in Grattan, Mich. The Easten region returns to action on June 3-4 at New Hampshire Internationall Raceway in Loudon, New Hampshire.