Daly, 16, from Noblesville, Ind., won from the pole on Saturday at VIR and added a second-place finish Sunday to clinch the championship and a $350,000 bonus that will enable him to progress along the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder system and compete in next year’s Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear. Daly hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow Team USA Scholarship winners Dane Cameron (2006), who went on to win the Star Mazda title in 2007 before graduating into the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, and Joel Miller (2007), who leads the 2008 Star Mazda points table prior to the final round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Newgarden, 17, from Hendersonville, Tenn., won Sunday’s race to secure second in the championship standings. Newgarden also claimed two other race wins and a series-high six poles during the 14-race season.
"Winning the National Championship is really a dream come true," said Daly. "To be given the opportunity to race in the Star Mazda Championship next season is a real honor, especially being backed by Mazda. It is a happy coincidence that several Team USA drivers have won the MAZDASPEED Scholarship before and have also competed and done very well in the series. I hope I can do the same."
Both Daly and Newgarden intend to carry their momentum to England next week as they begin preparations to contest both the famed Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 18/19 and the Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford event at Silverstone, home of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, on November 1/2.
"Winning the Skip Barber National Championship gives me huge momentum going over to England," said Daly. "I know it’s going to be super-competitive but I have a lot of confidence in my abilities and mental skills to be able to handle anything that goes on over there, and I can’t wait to show what I can do!"
"I am really pleased that I was able to finish the 2008 Skip Barber National season on a high note," added Newgarden. "Winning my last race in the SBN series is certainly the next best thing to winning the championship. I know Conor and I are going represent the U.S. in England with the highest level of class and sportsmanship, and we both plan on working together to bring home the best possible results."
The Team USA Scholarship is supported by Terminal Velocity Processing, Doug Mockett & Company, Aspin Foundations, Road Racing Drivers Club, Highcroft Racing, American Honda, Silicon Salvage, McMurry Inc., Dyson Racing, The Gorsline Company, Integrated Performance Technology, Andersen Racing Team, PitFit Training, Sparco USA, FormulaCar Magazine, Speedstar Management, Manifest Group and an array of past Scholarship winners including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, A.J. Allmendinger, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Paul Edwards and Memo Gidley.