Greist and Rossi Win at Road America

Monday, September 25, 2006 ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – This was not your usual Skip Barber National Presented by RACER race weekend. First of all, two “ringers” joined the field for rounds 11 and 12, supporting the Champ Car Road America Grand Prix – and one won a race, while the other took one of the poles and led the most laps of a race he didn’t win (ending up on his head, in fact). And one race was spectacularly wet, the other spectacularly dry. And the points leader had two very middling races, yet increased his points lead. And the drivers who were second and third in points coming into the weekend crashed into each other in both races – both on the first lap, and both taking a turn in being eliminated on the spot…

The ringers, if you will, were Revere Greist and Charles Anti. Neither had entered a Skip Barber National race this year, though both drivers had been multiple winners (and in Greist’s case, multiple champion) in Barber’s Regional Series, and Anti has occasionally shown well in Star Mazda this year. So the two come out of left field and go and put a hurtin’ on Jonathan Goring, Marco Di leo and Alexander Rossi, the Gang of Three who’ve hogged most of the spotlight this year. Between them they’ve won eight of the 10 races.

In qualifying for race one, Anti takes the pole and Greist is just .089 behind him. Rossi and Di Leo, the aforementioned second-and-third-in-points, are on row two. The points leader? Goring is an unremarkable 10th.

Heavy, heavy rain was falling as the race went green. Greist snatched the lead from Anti, but the fireworks were just behind them. Heading down to Turn Five in the blinding spray, Di Leo had parked himself on the gearbox of Rossi. When Rossi lifted a pinch earlier than Di Leo expected, Di Leo’s reaction to avoid put him in the grass, driver’s left. Now just along for a slithery ride, Di Leo miraculously missed hitting the wall. The car actually got pointed straight and was now headed straight for the apex – but from its backside. One might be forgiven for thinking Di Leo should have perhaps given himself more margin of error, considering it was the first lap in horrid conditions. And one might be forgiven for thinking Rossi should have seen Di Leo as he came sliding back onto the track… but he didn’t, they banged wheels very hard and Rossi’s left-front suspension was toast. Di Leo gathered it up and finished the opening lap in fourth.

Di Leo slides, then ”gets to the apex,” then he and Rossi collide.

Up front, Greist was perfect, opening a gap over Anti instantly. On lap two, Anti lost a lot more ground when he fell off the road on lap two, rejoining sixth (unfortunately, he would beach it for good two laps later, in Canada Corner). Di Leo accepted that gimme and also got around Mario Adrian Ochoa, which put Di Leo second. But behind them was Timmy Megenbier, a Bobby Rahal-sponsored karter who had done a few Skip Barber National races last year and this but hadn’t made a huge impression. Well, he did in this race, blazing up through the field from his eighth-place grid position. By lap four he was hounding Di Leo for second – and easily got him the next time around. Megenbier’s last four laps were three to seven seconds faster than anyone else on the track, including leader Greist. But time ran out and it finished Greist, Megenbier and Di Leo, with Jonathan Gore and Ochoa rounding out the top five. Goring finished a conservative seventh.

Timmy Megenbier was significantly quicker than anyone and it got him an impressive second place.

Revere Greist, just how he wanted it in the pouring rain: all alone up front.

Left to right, Di Leo, Greist and Megenbier

Race two: Rossi was on pole, Di Leo alongside. Perfect weather as the green flew. The field was clean through One and Three, Rossi out front and Di Leo right behind. Going down the long straight on the run to Five, Di Leo moved to Rossi’s inside. The next thing we knew Di Leo was spinning in the grass and hitting the wall and Rossi was sideways at 100 mph-plus. Rossi saved it and was in fourth when the field got down to Five. Each claimed the other driver was at fault but regardless, Di Leo was out.

First lap, race two… Jonathan Gore (77) leads, Rossi (64) is fourth. Look way back, upper right: That’s Di Leo, done for the day. Seconds later, here comes his left-rear, bouncing down to Five.

With Gore leading, Anti second and Greist third, a full course caution was called to clear up the mess. On the re-start, those three came rocketing down to Turn Five three-wide, Greist exiting the leader. Now it was a dogfight between the first five drivers, which included Rossi and Goring. Greist led laps three and four, Rossi lap five, Anti lap six, Greist lap seven, then Anti again laps eight and nine.

It was close like this the whole race. This is out of Five up to Turn Six.

Charles Anti (66) led the most laps — three — but he ended up upside down in the gravel at T14, when he and Greist (22) got together on the last lap.

Last lap. Leader Greist takes a defensive line in Canada, so second-place Rossi heads to the outside – and makes it stick. Now these two are side-by-side heading up to Billy Mitchell Bridge, with Anti less than a car length behind. You can’t do Bridge two wide, so Greist, being on the outside, cedes the corner to Rossi. As he does so, Anti sticks his nose under Greist. The result is a soft, sliding T-bone at 80 mph! Amazingly, the cars untangle and they each grab a gear and head to the last corner. But it’s not over. Greist and Anti are still side-by-side as they aim for the same piece of real estate in 14. The result was a flipping Anti and Greist stuck in the beach (Anti was unhurt). Rossi takes the checker, Gore and Ochoa inheriting second and third, respectively.

Megenbier had another good race, taking fourth, while Kyle Lawrence remains the best of the rest with his fifth place. Goring’s sixth place keeps him atop the points – barely.

Left to right, Gore, Rossi and Ochoa on the podium.

Now the Gang of Three head to the last two races, at Miller Motorsports Park, the weekend before Halloween. For two of them it’ll be a trick and for one, a treat, as the championship and its $100,000 title bonus won’t be decided until the final checker.

Sept. 23, 2006, round 11 of 14, Skip Barber National Presented by RACER
Champ Car Road America Grand Prix,, 14-turn, 4.0-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (2) Revere Greist, Madison, Wis., 7 laps, 75.051 winning average speed
2. (8) Timmy Megenbier, Melrose Park, Ill., 7 laps
3. (4) Marco Di Leo, Markham, Ont., Canada, 7
4. (6) Jonathan Gore, Franklin, Tenn., 7
5. (5) Mario Adrian Ochoa, Mexico, 7
6. (13) Peter Husser, Salinas, Calif., 7
7. (10) Jonathan Goring, Norfolk, Conn., 7
8. (9) Kyle Lawrence, Fort Gratiot, Mich., 7
9. (7) Alex Doman, Conifer, Colo., 7
10. (12) Jason Fennessey, Andover, Mass., 7
11. (14) Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, 7
12. (11) Julia Landauer, Bridgewater, N.J., 7
13. (1) Charles Anti, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2 (spin)
14. (3) Alexander Rossi, Nevada City, Calif., 0 (accident)

Race length: 7 laps of 4.0-mile, 14-turn street course for 28.0 miles
Time of race: 22 minutes, 39.198 seconds
Conditions: Heavy rain
Margin of victory: 4.667 seconds
Lap leaders: Greist 1 – 7
Caution laps: None
Fastest qualifier: Anti, 2:33.911 / 94.683 mph
Fastest race lap: Megenbier, 3:07.999 / 77.515 mph, lap 6

Sept. 24, 2006, round 12 of 14, Skip Barber National Presented by RACER
Champ Car Road America Grand Prix,, 14-turn, 4.0-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (1) Alexander Rossi, Nevada City, Calif., 10 laps, 87.038 winning average speed
2. (4) Jonathan Gore, Franklin, Tenn., 10 laps
3. (7) Mario Adrian Ochoa, Mexico, 10
4. (10) Timmy Megenbier, Melrose Park, Ill., 10
5. (8) Kyle Lawrence, Fort Gratiot, Mich., 10
6. (5) Jonathan Goring, Norfolk, Conn., 10
7. (11) Julia Landauer, Bridgewater, N.J., 10
8. (13) Jason Fennessey, Andover, Mass., 10
9. (14) Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, 10
10. (12) Peter Husser, Salinas, Calif., 10
11. (3) Charles Anti, Pittsburgh, Pa., 9 (accident)
12. (6) Revere Greist, Madison, Wis., 9 (accident)
13. (9) Alex Doman, Conifer, Colo., 9 (spin)
14. (2) Marco Di Leo, Markham, Ont., Canada, 0 (accident)

Race length: 10 laps of 4.0-mile, 14-turn street course for 40.0 miles
Time of race: 27 minutes, 54.298 seconds
Conditions: Dry
Margin of victory: 3.744 seconds
Lap leaders: Gore 1-2; Greist 3-4; Rossi 5; Anti 6; Greist 7; Anti 8-9; Rossi 10
Caution laps: One, for one lap (lap 2)
Fastest qualifier: Rossi, 2:33.144 / 95.157 mph
Fastest race lap: Greist, 2:32.652 / 95.464 mph, lap 7

SBN points standings, top 10 drivers, after 12 of 14 rounds:

1. Jonathan Goring, 583
2. Marco Di Leo, 557
3. Alexander Rossi, 549
4. Kyle Lawrence, 473
5. Alex Doman, 420
6. Richard Heistand, 351
7. Mario Adrian Ochoa, 340
8. Jason Fennessey, 340
9. Jonathan Gore, 314
10. Peter Husser, 283

Next: Season finale, Miller Motorsports Park, October 28-29


Words & photos, Rick Roso

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