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Latest News and Commentary

Allmendinger wins CART Barber Dodge opener

March 16,  2002


AJ Allmendinger hangs it all out on the way to victory
Photo copyright AR1 and
Bill Kistler

(SEBRING, Fla.) March 16, 2002 -He said it was the longest 40 minutes of his life, but in the end, it was worth the wait. A.J. Allmendinger from Hollister, Calif. scored his first Barber Dodge Pro Series career victory in the opening round of the 2002 season at Sebring International Raceway. From the pole, Allmendinger relinquished the lead to eventual second-place finisher Davy Cook, but after settling the nerves, he retook the lead for keeps, just before the halfway point. Cook earned a career best finish as did Julio Campos who finished third in his first career start. Allmendinger leaves scoring a 22 out of 23 maximum point by virtue of taking the win, pole and fastest race lap.

"I far surpassed my expectations this weekend. I came in hoping to have a clean week and finish in the top-5. But to get the pole and win makes me really excited to go to (the next race) Lime Rock now. I really have to thank my mechanic, Kent, and the rest of the Barber Dodge coaching and technical staff for really staying on top of the car and helping me out," said Allmendinger, 18. "At the start, there were a lot of nerves. Davy got a great start and got around me. I got him back but I was still a little unsettled and dropped a wheel (off track) a few times. He got around me again and I knew just had to settle down. My car got faster through the race and I caught him in turn-1, then he made a little mistake in turn-2 and I was able to get by in turn-3."


AJ Allmendinger
Photo copyright AR1 and
Bill Kistler

Cook indeed timed the start well. By the entry to the first turn, Cook assumed the early lead. Campos as well made a good start, pressuring Nilton Rossoni for third. Cook led the first lap; however, early into the second lap, Allmendinger passed Cook as they entered turn-3 side by side. By the next lap Campos got ahead of Rossoni and so the order would be Allmendinger ahead of Cook, while Campos, several car lengths behind, led Rossoni and Memo Rojas.

Allmendinger's lead wouldn't last. Twice on the same lap, he edged slightly off track and when they came around to start lap-5 it was the yellow and black HMS Motorsports Dodge Reynard of Cook on point. The order would remain the same for four laps with Cook and Allmendinger increasing their lead over Campos, Rossoni and Rojas. Suddenly, Cook lost time in turn-15 and later in the same lap Campos would spin in turn-17 and continue but not before losing a place.

Just before midway, Allmendinger made his move again in turn-3, reassuming the lead that would be his for the balance. Cook kept the gap to within a second until the final two laps but never came close enough again to challenge. Christian Szymczak was making moves coming from the ninth starting spot to claim fifth place.

Campos meanwhile had recovered from his spin to catch Rossoni who was running five seconds behind Cook. With three laps remaining in the 40-minute race, Campos set up a draft down the long Ullman Straight into turn-17 and by mid-corner had bettered Rossoni for third place.

"I was running a lower wing than A.J. so I was faster on the straights, but he was doing things in Turn-17 that I couldn't compete with," said Cook of Tallahassee, Fla., 19. "I missed a downshift in turn-3 with four laps to go, and went wide and by that point, I knew that A.J. took care of his tires, so I just thought about the championship and took second place."

Campos, the 2001 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Champion (ahead of Allmendinger) certainly worked for his first podium in his professional race start. He passed former Series champion and former Sebring race-winner Rossoni not once but twice for the position.

"When I passed Nilton the first time, I looked ahead and saw A.J. and Davy and I kept pushing and pushing to catch them. Then I made a mistake in turn-17, trying to drive the car too hard. When I got going again, I was behind Nilton once more and I thought, 'forget about the race, I have to finish third,'" said Campos, 20, from Curitiba, Brazil. "The crew and the driver coaches helped me out a lot a I am very happy to be near the front of the championship."

Rossoni duly finished fourth ahead of Szymczak, a career best for the Oaklander. Barber-CART Big Scholarship winner Leonardo Maia finished sixth, thankful that his mechanic had remedied a shock problem before the race start. Canadian Josh Beaulieu finished seventh ahead of Finn Hannu Wiinikainen, both drivers contesting their first Barber Dodge race. Marc Breuers overcame a tough start, losing his fourth position on the grid, forcing him to take the green flag from the final row of the pack. He fought gamely to finish ninth. Tom Fogarty rounded out the top-10.

Round 2 of the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series takes place at Lime Rock Park on May 2

2002 BARBER DODGE PRO SERIES RACE

RACE RESULT

ROUND 1

SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

Sebring, FL
March 16, 2002

Pos No. Driver Hometown Pts Money Laps Status

1

29

A.J. Allmendinger

Hollister, Calif.

22

$13,000

19

Running

2

16

Davy Cook

Tallahassee, Fla.

16

$8,750

19

Running

3

21

Julio Campos

Curitiba, Brazil

14

$6,500

19

Running

4

36

Nilton Rossoni

Curitiba, Brazil

13

$4,500

19

Running

5

34

Christian Szymczak

Oakland, Calif.

11

$2,500

19

Running

6

31

Leonardo Maia

Oakland, Calif.

10

$1,500

19

Running

7

27

Josh Beaulieu

Langley, B.C.

9

$1,250

19

Running

8

20

Hannu Wiinikainen

Espoo, Finland

8

$1,250

19

Running

9

94

Marc Breuers

Philadelphia, PA

7

$1,250

19

Running

10

66

Tom Fogarty

Portola Valley, Calif.

6

$1,250

19

Running

11

69

Chris Baker

Austin, Texas

5

$1,000

19

Running

12

56

Javier Gonzalez

Mexico City, Mexico

4

$1,000

19

Running

13

51

Aurelio Lopez, Jr.

Guadalajara, Mexico

3

$1,000

19

Running

14

15

Memo Rojas

Mexico City, Mexico

2

$1,000

19

Running

15

55

Piero Rodarte

Mexico City, Mexico

1

$1,000

19

Running

16

13

John Hall

Sealy, Texas

 

$750

19

Running

17

19

Dan Di Leo

Markham,Ontario

 

$750

19

Running

18

37

Mike Richardson

Kelowna, B.C.

 

$750

19

Running

19

28

Roland Isra

New York, N.Y.

 

$750

19

Running

20

33

German Quiroga

Mexico City, Mexico

 

$750

18

Running

21

93

Charlie Pareja

Guayaquil, Ecuador

 

$500

17

Contact

22

11

Rafael Sperafico

Toledo Paraná, Brazil

 

$500

15

Running

23

14

Carlos Lievano

Neiva, Colombia

 

$500

0

Off Course




LENGTH OF RACE:19 Laps of 3.7 Mile Circuit for 70.300 miles

TIME OF RACE:40 Minutes, 44.448 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED:103.533
MARGIN OF VICTORY:0 Minutes 2.984 Seconds

LAP LEADERS:Davy Cook Lap 1 and Lap 4 - 8; A. J. Allmendinger Laps 2 - 3
and Lap 9 -19
FASTEST RACE LAP:A. J. Allmendinger 2:07.328 (104.612 mph) Lap 13

FASTEST QUALIFIER:A. J. Allmendinger 2:06.599 (105.214 mph)

TOTAL PAYOUT:$52,000

Championship Points:

A.J. Allmendinger, 22
Davy Cook, 16
Julio Campos,14
Nilton Rossoni,13
Christian Szymczak,11
Leonardo Maia,10
Josh Beaulieu,9
Hannu Wiinikainen,8
Marc Breuers,7
Tom Fogarty,6
Chris Baker,5
Javier Gonzalez,4,
Aurelio Lopez, Jr.,3
Memo Rojas,2
Piero Rodarte,1.

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