SBRS: Watkins Glen race notes

Chris Oliver secured three wins in the penultimate round of the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Series from Watkins Glen, New York. The former Grand Prix circuit, played host to 60 drivers, each hoping to better their championship hopes or simply...

Chris Oliver secured three wins in the penultimate round of the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Series from Watkins Glen, New York. The former Grand Prix circuit, played host to 60 drivers, each hoping to better their championship hopes or simply hone their skill set. Racers Andy Newell, Mike Marino and Norio Takeda each made headway on the idle current series points leader Ernesto Viso by virtue of their strong results.

Group 1 took to the 11-turn, 3.45-mile track under dry conditions, all R/T 2000's decked in their usual Michelin Pilot slicks. Oliver, starting from pole, led all 12 laps to take the victory over Newell and fourteenth place starter David Kaemmer, who progressed to third. In addition to the scrap that Oliver and Newell waged at the front, Brad Parker, John Brice and John Pew battled for a top-5 result eventually secured by Pew. Peter Stolper's fourth place result earned him the Masters win.

Mike Marino upset polesitter Mike Weagley early on, then led all remaining laps to take the win in group 2 race 1. Abraham Zimroth quickly moved up from fourth to take the second spot and hold it for a second place result. Fastest lap setter Jerry Molitor followed in third. Chris Otis was welcomed back to series competition, where he took the Masters class win with a fourth place overall.

Rookie Norio Takeda earned a triple crown of sorts with his win from pole and fastest lap in group 3 race 1. David Kaemmer did his best to challenge the young Japanese racer, narrowly missing his mark by falling 0.049 sec. shy at the final flag. John Brice rounded out the podium with his third place result. Mike Wert earned a top-5 result and the Masters bounty with his best in the 41-plus category.

Group 4 featured a second win on the day for Chris Oliver, this time from third on the grid. Oliver had to overcome a resilient Jerry Molitor and Masters racer Mark Patterson, who had won the pole with a strong qualifying effort. Molitor and Patterson would go on to finish second and third. Matt Koskinen drove extremely well. Koskinen advanced from fifteenth quickly and applied pressure to Patterson but could not best him for the final rostrum spot. Patterson also claims Masters points for his best in category result.

In the Sad Max Memorial, Steven Rickert charged from 14th to take the win over Barber Dodge Pro Series regular Akihira Okamoto and Norio Takeda. Rickert also established a new track standard with a time of 2:08.703 sec. Max was the late dog of Skip Barber Race Series Director Divina Galica. Contrary to the event moniker, Max was, in fact, a happy dog.

The second day of race action saw Andy Newell claim the win that had eluded him in race 1. Starting from second again, Newell needed only four laps to figure out and successfully pass Chris Oliver, en route to the win. Also in the mix was third place starter David Kaemmer, who appeared committed to staying with the leaders, setting a fastest lap time of 2:10.089 sec. in the process. Kaemmer successfully chased down Oliver to gain the second place spot and relegate yesterday's group 1 winner to third. The trio crossed the checkered flag within 0.05 sec. of each other. Peter Stolper earned a fourth place and best in Masters for the second consecutive day.

Group 2 race 2 saw Mike Marino, Abraham Zimroth and Jerry Molitor maintain their 1-2-3 start order the entire 12 lap race. Despite the identical placement, this race featured an epic battle between Marino and Zimroth for the point. Both were clocking consistently fast laps, with Marino's best effort timed at 2:10.726 sec. Chris Otis was only a second shy of a podium spot. His fourth place earned him Masters class distinction. Terry Ray's admirable drive from 15th to ninth earned him most progressive driver status.

Deyne Bentt secured his first ever Skip Barber Race Series win in group 3 race 2. The eighth place starter overcame tough odds and formidable competition to take the win over John Brice and Brad Parker. Bentt leapt to second at the start, then fell back to sixth when he went four off in the Interloop. He steadily advanced, regained his composure and battled with Robert to work his way back to the front. Parker's third allows him to claim the Masters bounty. Championship contender Norio Takeda actually crossed the line first but was disqualified for brake checking the field.

Chris Oliver wrapped up an already strong weekend with a victory in the finale. The polesitter withstood a sustained challenge from Mark Patterson, volleying the lead over half-dozen times. Patterson led as late as lap 10 but was eventually chased down by Oliver on lap 11. Fourteenth place starter Tom Sands drove an inspired race, advancing 11 positions to finish in third and capture a spot on the podium.

Ed Knez, who suffered a concussion in group 1 race 2, was treated and is to be released from a local hospital shortly. He is expected to make a full recovery.


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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Skip Barber , Jerry Molitor , Abraham Zimroth , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Akihira Okamoto , David Kaemmer , Divina Galica , Ernesto Viso