Rossi clinches title in New Jersey
With his second win of the weekend at Thunderbolt Raceway, in Millville, NJ, 17- year old Californian Alexander Rossi (Eurointernational) clinched the 2008 Formula BMW Americas Championship. Rossi is first American to win the title in the five year history of the series and the first driver ever to clinch the championship before the final race of the season.
Winning eight races from eight poles this season Rossi now stands at the top of the Formula BMW Americas record books with 11 career wins and 10 career poles.
Starting from the pole, Rossi won Round 14, finishing 8.6 seconds ahead of Formula BMW Junior and Rookie Mikael Grenier (Apex-HBR Racing Team) in the 17-lap race. Grenier's fourth podium finish of the season moves him back to second in Rookie points. Giancarlo Vilarinho (Eurointernational) finished third, for the young Brazilian's second podium finish of the weekend. Vilarinho set the fastest lap of the race (1:29.128 minutes) on lap 16.
The race began on a damp and muddy track with Rossi getting another excellent start, immediately pulling a gap to the rest of the field. Formula BMW Junior and Rookie Gianmorco Raimondo (Autotecnica), from the fifth starting spot, slid off the track and fell back to the end of the field. He would ultimately finish sixth and retain the lead in the Rookie point standings. Grenier, from fourth, moved past David Ostella (Eurointernational) and Vilarinho by the end of the first lap to hold the second spot. Behind Rossi, Grenier and Vilarinho Apex-HBR Racing teammates Jorge Goncalvez and Formula BMW Junior and Rookie Alexandre Ruiz had the battle of the race with Ruiz getting past Goncalvez on lap 15, holding him off at the checked flag by just .017 seconds, and rounding out the top-five finishers.
With two races remaining, the Rookie title chase continues to be as tight as it has been all year with Raimondo, Grenier, Ruiz and now Vilarinho separated by only 12 points.
An elated Rossi said, "I am struggling to find the words to describe how I feel right now. Relief, joy, happiness and thankfulness are a start. There were some tough moments this season, but a great team behind me got me here. The Championship is clinched. Awesome!"