Race One Grid, Skip Barber National

Friday, April 21, 2006 ALTON, Va. – The rain never happened, but Chris Wehrheim didn’t just happen on to the pole. The 20-year-old former karting star and some-time Grand-Am Cup driver continued his domination of the time sheets; he was the only driver in the :09s in qualifying for round three of the Skip Barber National Presented by RACER. Wehrheim, quickest on practice I and second-quick in practice II, was more than 3/10s up on next quickest Marco Di Leo in this qualifier. Third was Alex Doman, while Kyle Lawrence, who had been languishing in the bottom third of the time sheets in the two practice sessions, put up one lap in the :10s mid-session, but it was a good one, earning him fourth on the grid. Fifth was Richard Heistand, who in his second SBN season is starting to put things together.

Chris Wehrheim didn’t let dirt at the apex of Five slow him down any…

More disconcerting to the regular frontrunners must be the grid position of A.J. Riley, a Skip Barber Regional runner in his first National weekend. He’s sixth, just in front of another surprise, Cory Turner, a dirt track specialist from California. Turner was invisible at the season opener in Laguna, crashing out of race one and finishing 17th in race two. Clearly he’s coming to grips with this road racing thing. Two drivers expected to be players for front row spots instead just squeaked into the top 10: Ricky Taylor, who’s been very quick in Skip Barber Regional, and Justin Moon, who notched a second and a third at Laguna, are eighth and ninth, respectively. Mario Adrian Ochoa has not gotten a lot of ink, but he’s been very steady and gotten good results. He had a fifth and a sixth at Laguna, and here at VIR, he’s qualified 10th.

Points leader and double-winner Marco Di Leo is on the front row with Wehrheim.

Enzo Pastor is 11th, in front of another driver who has not found VIR’s technical aspects flattering to his talents, Alexander Rossi. Jonathan Goring, a race winner last year and a podium finisher in one of the openers, is 13th, followed by Andy Rossetto (a two-time winner last year) and Snap-on Stars of Karting Scholarship driver Kyle Wiegand.

VIR’s race one is at 11:15 a.m., followed by race-two qualifying at 2:15 p.m.

Race-One Qualifying, Skip Barber National Presented by RACER, Virginia International Raceway, as part of the VIR 400 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car race weekend:

1. Chris Wehrheim, Norcross, Ga., 2:09.878 / 90.639 mph
2. Marco Di Leo, Markham, Ont., Canada, 2:10.213 / 90.406
3. Alex Doman, Conifer, Colo., 2:10.319
4. Kyle Lawrence, Ft. Gratiot, Mich., 2:10.604
5. Richard Heistand, Orlando Fla., 2:10.771
6. A.J. Riley, Wilton, Conn., 2:10.955
7. Cory Turner, Bakersfield, Calif., 2:11.289
8. Ricky Taylor, Altamont Springs, Fla., 2:11.402
9. Justin Moon, Shingle Springs, Calif., 2:11.514
10. Mario Adrian Ochoa, Mexico, 2:11.539
11. Enzo Pastor, Philippines, 2:11.587
12. Alexander Rossi, Nevada City, Calif., 2:11.665
13. Jonathan Goring, Norfolk, Conn., 2:11.751
14. Andy Rossetto Grafton, Wis., 2:11.858
15. Kyle Wiegand, Bargersville, Ind., 2:11.923
16. Jason Fennessey, Andover, Mass., 2:11.965
17. Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, Calif., 2:12.033
18. Jonathan Gore, Franklin, Tenn., 2:12.219
19. Chris Castagna, South Boston, Mass., 2:12.737

Alex Doman, at 15 just a year older than Alexander Rossi, is inside row two.

In the only qualifying session prior to today — there was just one at Laguna Seca, where the second session got ”rained out” by A1GP organizers — Kyle Lawrence qualified seventh. A spin ruined that race, but a good result from his second row start here at VIR could make up for it.

Richard Heistand needs some consistency to affirm his recent ascendency. A good showing from his P5 grid position would do it.

Words and photos, Rick Roso

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