Barber Dodge Round 4 This Sunday at Watkins Glen Race Favorite Wasn't Even Planning On Doing Barber Dodge This Year LAKEVILLE, Conn. (June 24) - The driver who was not even expected to return to Barber Dodge for 1998 instead is the favorite to...
Barber Dodge Round 4 This Sunday at Watkins Glen Race Favorite Wasn't Even Planning On Doing Barber Dodge This Year
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (June 24) - The driver who was not even expected to return to Barber Dodge for 1998 instead is the favorite to win round four, at Watkins Glen this Sunday. Rino Mastronardi, who finished second in last year's title chase to Derek Hill, won the Glen race last year by two seconds over Chris Menninga.
Over the winter, Mastronardi was confident of putting together a budget that would see him in Indy Lights this year, but it never came together. Despite missing Barber Dodge's season-opener in March, and with no testing in the new Reynard Dodge whatsoever, Mastronardi re-joined the series for round two at Lime Rock Park, tempted by the increased-for-'98 $300,000 Career Enhancement Award that goes to the series champion. He promptly finished third after leading much of the race. At Detroit two weeks later, Mastronardi again finished third, behind winner Jeff Simmons and second-place Will Langhorne. The Italian is now third in points, 18 points behind leader Todd Snyder, with three races down and nine to go.
But the competitiveness of Barber Dodge is at a fever pitch. Consider: In the first three races this year, the series has seen three different polesitters (Sepp Koster, Nicolas Rondet and Simmons), three different winners (Snyder, Thomas Schie and Simmons), and two different drivers set fastest race-lap (Snyder once, Simmons twice). Six different drivers have led laps. Only once has the polesitter won the race (Simmons, at the most recent round, Detroit).
The Watkins Glen short course is very fast (average speed of the old Mondiales was close to 115 mph), so the big question mark is how well-or not-the Reynard Dodges draft. The old Mondiales drafted like NASCAR stockers, but the Glen will be the first real test of the Reynards' draft capabilities.
Barber Dodge Pro Series round four is Sunday, June 28, with a green flag for the 40- minute race scheduled for 9:45 a.m. The first espn2 broadcast is slated for Sunday, July 12 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.