West & South Engulf Sebring

Thursday, February 23, 2006 The 3.7-mile Sebring 12-hour course was a perfect venue to hold the combined Western/Southern/Masters National race weekend. The average field size for the 11 races was nearly 16 drivers – including a giant Memorial race that had 23 starters. And Matt Franc saw his Full Course track record snatched away by someone whom might be a star in the making…

Qualifying, results and lap charts are here

The pix from Sebring are here

A separate story on the Masters National…

The complete 2006 racing schedules – all four Regionals, Masters National and National.

G1R1 (Sportsman South)
This was the largest field of the weekend (17), and your pole ‘‘man’’ was Hayden Duerson, with Yannick Hofman alongside. The first lap sorted out with Duerson and Hofman one-two, Miles Bell, Dane Moxlow and Jay Fuchs following. Third time around, Moxlow grabbed second from Hofman going into 17. After the leaders flew through Turn One to start lap four, the mid-pack drivers headed into One… and we had big fustercluck; a couple of spinners escalated into a four-car melee, and we went black-all to sweep things up. Out were Robert Salley, A.J. Glassberg, Michele Marden and Mike Collins. Just after the re-start, Moxlow and Bell got together. Moxlow’s car was done, but Bell’s was okie-doke and he re-joined after his stop. So now it was still Duerson up front, with Hofman having gotten P2 back, and Fuchs up to third. Over the last three laps, Fuchs and Pat Daly (up from 14th!) were tradin’ places in a great battle for third, with Hofman finally prevailing by the skin of his teeth (.042 of a second). George Ebel was fifth, followed by David Stubbs, Carmine Pici and Aaron Hollander. Bell recovered from his Moxlow incident to ninth, with Mike Cascioli rounding out the top 10.

G1R2 (Sportsman South)
Young Duerson moved to the Championship group, which put Hofman on pole. Yannick led flag to flag, manufacturing a healthy lead right from the git-go. But Moxlow impressed even more. From 12th on the grid, he lopped off seven cars on the first lap, then on the next lap dispatched Ebel and Daly to take over third. By the fourth lap, Moxlow passed Fuchs for second place, and then got around Hofman for the lead in the Hairpin (but it didn’t stick, as Hofman got it back…). Hofman, now with his hair on fire, began to leave Moxlow – especially since Fuchs was catching then harassing Moxlow. While this was going on, Daly and Bell had their own hot battle fighting over fourth place. Last lap, Jay was on Dane’s gearbox through the Tower Turn, but he went a little hot into 16 and though Fuchs didn’t lose any ground, he didn’t make up any, either. At the checker Moxlow held onto second by less than half a second. The Daly-Bell P4 tussle ended up even closer, Pat a scant .114 over Miles. Ebel, Stubbs and Hollander each crossed the line solo for sixth, seventh and eighth, with Marden and Pici rounding out the top 10.

New guy Robert Salley knocked 3 seconds off his best lap time between his Saturday race and Sunday’s.

G3R1 (Championship West)
Karting Shoot-out winner Alexander Rossi had taken pole with a record-setting lap in qualifying – a 2:25.602 – but this one didn’t start all that well: The start was waved off and Andre Villarreal (starting fourth) and Steven Guerrero (second) had contact (enough so that it effectively ended Villarreal’s race, as he finished two laps down). Green for the start of lap two, with Carlos Llano the leader, there’s more fun as Guerrero had nose-to-gearbox contact with Rossi in Turn Seven. Rossi then passed Llano for the lead going into T16, but the only driver that comes in for their contact stop is Villarreal. Now it’s lap three, and the leaderboard shows Rossi, Llano, Tom Roberts, Duncan Ende and Dom Bastien as the top five. On lap four, Rossi brings her into the pits (re-joining mid-pack) so everybody moves up a notch, including Laura Rowe from sixth to fifth. Guerrero also does the right thing. With everybody except for Tim Traver ‘‘having served,’’ (he would show up in pit lane on the next-to-last lap), we now had a proper race over the last three laps. Llano stayed out front, by just a bit more than a second, but Ende stalked Roberts for two laps before getting around him with the white flag flying. Rowe held off first Bastien then a flying Rossi (who got Dom on the last lap to take fifth) for a fine fourth. Tom Brown, Robb Holland, Rick Balsley, Guerrero and Traver finished on the lead lap, with Villarreal 12 th two laps down and Ted Ballou out after early contact.

The hardest part about writing these race reports and putting up the pictures is that sometimes I have no idea who these drivers are. Like, who’s this? Can someone ID this race car driver for me, please?

G3R2 (Championship West)
It was five-wide heading into Three at the start, and there was action aplenty the entire first lap, but by the time lap two began, Rossi, from sixth, had snatched the lead and took off. He led every lap and crossed the line with the biggest margin of victory of the entire weekend, more than 11 seconds up. Impressive. A very compelling battle involving Ende, Guerrero and Llano (second through fourth, respectively) entertained the crowd, and Rowe made a neat move on the last lap in Turn One over Roberts to snag fifth on the track (Roberts would officially end up classified eighth, behind Traver and Holland, following a time penalty). Ballou and Bastien were ninth and 10th.

G4R1 (Sportsman West)
Moxlow was the polesitter but it was crazy tight all the way around that first lap. Moxlow, Villarreal and Bell then rocketed into 17 three-wide… and Villarreal emerged the leader. Good stuff! But then the race lost a potential winner when Bell fell off the track surface in T13. That put Steve Rooyakkers into third and Doug “Beta” Harrison into fourth and Tim George, Jr., fifth. (And a charging Guy Bolduc might have made it into this mix, except he smoked ‘em and went off in the Hairpin…) So now it’s lap four; Villarreal, Moxlow, Rooyakkers up front. The next thing you know, we’re FCY, as Rooyakkers power-hooked it like you read about into the wall in Turn 16. Two laps of yellow, then we go green with two laps to go. Harrison took over second place, but Moxlow wouldn’t let him keep it and got it back in the Hairpin. And that was that… Villarreal 1.7 seconds up on Moxlow, who was another 8/10s up on Harrison, George, Jr., and Nicholas Spencer fourth and fifth. Stephen McPherson kept sixth, while Angelos Angelopoulos came from as far back as 12 th to come home seventh. Brett Liljegren, Bell and Craig Conwell finished off the top 10.

Is that a Bell, Miles?

G4R2 (Sportsman West)
Moxlow led the first lap from pole, but Harrison’s pass in Turn One on the next lap took care of that. Except Moxlow wasn’t content with that sate of affairs and took the lead back in Turn 10. But Harrison thought he deserved the lead and took it back. Whereupon Moxlow returned the favor yet again, again in 10. After that, Moxlow pretty much took off, leaving Harrison and Bell to duke it out for second. That fight stayed relatively hot, Harrison prevailing by just 2/10s at the checker. Rooyakkers made up for his Saturday oof with a fine drive, going 12 th to fourth, and Spencer, who had run as high as third early in the race, got himself a fifth. Buldoc also climbed the ladder (10th to sixth), while George, Jr. – he had a taste of third, too – fought through a spin to wind up seventh. Angelopoulos, Liljegren and McPherson rounded out the top 10.

Dane Moxlow ”doubled,” entering Southern and Western Sportsman. A DNF in G1R1 was more than offset with a P2 in R2, then another second in G4R1, and a win (celebrated above) on Sunday.

G5R1 (Championship South)
This group had a lot of fast, race-winning drivers. This was a cool race, one that pitted the extremely quick Craig Duerson and very capable Brent Milner – both of a certain age – against three teens; Alex Doman, Ricky Taylor and Andrew Carbonell. Also in were Tim Traver, Duncan Ende, Carlos Llano, Andre Villarreal, Laura Rowe, Michel Garrido. In qualifying, the top seven were within 1 second of each other… First lap, Rowe went four-off to re-enter after a spin in Three, and John Peterson had some damage – did he and Villarreal get together? Whatever, Villarreal was done. P2-starting Duerson was the leader, with Carbonell, Milner and Doman in lockstep By lap two, Doman was P3, but Taylor took the spot over on lap four. Those two would trade spots a couple more times, all the while Duerson and Carbonell gapping them. Just past halfway, Ende and Llano, battling for sixth, might have gotten cattywampus in the Carrousel. Whatever happened, Lano was done and Ende wound up 11 th. Back up front, Duerson and Carbonell were tussling – Carbonell put up the fastest race-lap in the process – and the last move, on the last lap, was Carbonell compromising his line to pass Duerson in 16. The almost inevitable re-pass by Duerson sealed the deal. Taylor was third, after he stuck a pass on Doman two laps from the end. Milner was fifth and Garrido sixth, followed by Traver, David Libby, Mike Edwards and Peterson.

G5R2 (Championship South)
Again, it was Duerson taking the “kids” to school (including his own son, Hayden). Carbonell ran second for six of the eight laps, until Taylor – who had taken Doman for third place on lap three – dispatched Carbonell with two to go. Just like Saturday’s race, Duerson didn’t put up the fastest lap (Taylor did), but experience and racecraft saw him lead every lap. And don’t forget that we can’t ballast the cars in Regional, so Duerson’s accomplishments are even more impressive… Garrido ran fifth the whole race, and Milner sixth, who was hounded by Villarreal.. Ende, Llano and Libby rounded out the top 10, while Peterson, Rowe, Traver and Hayden Duerson all finished on the lead lap, too.

Ryan Conti was Da Man this weekend, winning the Mechanic of the Race award.

Al ‘‘Grandpa Munster’’ Lewis Memorial
A giant Memorial field: 23 drivers, from HazMatt and Bo Bo to Doppler Dave and Dr. Mike, everybody was playing. Prior to the race, Alexander Rossi got his hands on one of those Star Trek Transporters – well, at least it looked that way – as he vaporized himself from 21st on the grid to the lead in two – that would be two – laps. HazMattFranc (17th) went along for the Rossi Ride, slotting into second in the same time frame. Craig DoIt,Son! took a skinch longer – he was third by lap three – while Andrew CarbonFiber’s climb was bit subtler; 22, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. Gerardo ‘’Star Mazda’’ Bonilla went 12th to fifth, while David Libby was the best of the front-gridded drivers, nabbing a solid sixth (and setting his personal-best lap of the weekend to boot, juuuuuuuust missing getting into the :27s). All 23 drivers finished on the lead lap. All 23 drivers had a great time. And all 23 drivers are pointing at you, asking why you weren’t there!

Coming up…
Another big combined Western and Southern Series Race Weekend is headed our way. March 24-26, we’re at the recently upgraded ‘‘Outside’’ (their word, not ours) road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It’s a 13-turn, 2.4-mile long circuit that’s veeeeeery smooth, with car-friendly apexes/track-out curbing (Click here to see the track map). Besides the cool race track and what’s sure to be a large gathering of Series drivers, I don’t think anyone has to explain the possibilities that Vegas, as a city, proffers. This will be great – even if Al ‘‘Tiny’’ Delattre does pass on the Celine Dion show…

One more thing. The Skip Barber National Presented by RACER opens its ninth season, supporting the inaugural A1GP event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, March 10-12. This is hoped to be a big spectator event, and the National is the featured support series, with excellent race times on Saturday and Sunday. Come to this race and support your buddies! (Alex Doman, Carlos Llano, Duncan Ende and Alexander Rossi amongst others.) See you there!

Ricky Lusso; pix by Divi

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